Are You a Peeker?

I know that sounds like a really personal question doesn’t it? (I am a proud “peeker” but we’ll get into that in a moment…)

I’m about to ask those of you who quilt/put bindings on projects some really deeply personal questions, are you ready?

Working on sewing on the quilt binding that won the votes (see posts Help Me Pick the Binding for Seattle Scrappy! and And the Winner of the Binding Fabric Poll is…) yesterday got me wondering what other crafters’ practices are related to sewing on a binding.

First a couple questions related to the initial sewing on of the binding to the quilt:

Are You a Peeker?

When you first sew the binding onto to the quilt (before you hand stitch or machine stitch it down), do you peek after your first couple inches or so to see how the binding is going to look finished

I do! I am a proud peeker! As soon as I have enough binding sewn on to the quilt I flip the edge it over to the backside so I can see how it is going to look:


It is just so pleasing to me and like instant gratification to see a preview of how the finishing quilt binding will look!

Do You Measure or Eyeball?

When it comes to turning a corner on a quilt when initially sewing on the binding, do you eyeball the quarter inch (or whatever measurement you use), or do you whip out the ruler and measure?


I am an “eyeballer” and so far it has served me well (but I have screwed up a couple times). Occasionally, as you can see in the image above,  I do also pin it in place before sewing down the next section after turning the corner.

Now a couple questions related to hand stitching the binding to the back of the quilt after you’ve initially sewn it on:

How Do You Do Your Corners?

After you finish initially sewing on the binding, do you sew all the corners of the binding first and then sew down the rest along the quilt; or do you just start at one section and work your way around the quilt?


What I do is preview the corners, that they are sitting correctly and sometimes leave some pins or some clips in the corner, and then I randomly select a place to start to sew down the binding and work my way around the quilt.

And the most private and personal question of all (smile):

How Do You Select Thread Color to Sew Down to Back?

I’ve always struggled with this – do you go with trying to match the color of the binding or the color of the backing/back of the quilt?

I went with what was in my sewing machine – a medium-ish gray and I hope it works between the medium-dark binding color and the light gray backing!


I think that is enough probing questions.

Okay, so in the comments below feel free to share your most personal binding related secrets – it’s OK you’re among friends (smile)!


I was also going to ask how do you initially measure how much binding you need to bind a quilt? I eyeball it by holding up my fabrics strips, that will be made into the binding, up to the quilt. But many times I end up with this situation: too much leftover binding…

What's on the Design Wall

Slogging through the binding…oh wait, I am finally finished!

Before I get to the update on my quilt, Happy Ending, I wanted to recommend a blog if you are an antique sewing machine aficionado: Vintage Sewing Machines

Elena, a couture tailor, shares photos and stories about her incredible vintage sewing machine collection; and a lot of educational information about the workings of sewing machines. Reading her blog I have gained a huge appreciation for the beauty and mystery of vintage sewing machines!

This post is a follow up to a quilt discussed in my What’s on the Design Wall series of posts, Happy Ending.

In my post A Happy Ending for “Happy Ending”, I shared that I received my Happy Ending quilt in the mail from the long-arm quilter, Cindy Anderson, of A Quilter’s Corner with Cindy Anderson (, and it was time to put on the binding and finish up the quilt.

Slogging through the binding

How do you feel about binding a quilt? I am torn. On one hand, it is exciting because the quilt is nearly done; and I enjoy snuggling under the quilt as I sew down the binding. On the other hand, I find it tedious and irritating and want it to be quickly done.

My desire to have my binding quickly done was evidenced in my early quilts which had sloppily sewn binding. If these quilts were still in my possession, over the years I have either replaced the binding completely or unstitched the hand sewing on the binding and restitched the bindings.

It seems like there are so many steps to binding a quilt:

  • Creating the binding
  • Sewing the binding strips to the quilt
  • Selecting the thread to hand stitch the binding down
  • Stitching the binding down

After stitching enough 2.5 ” strips together to encompass the entire perimeter of the quilt, it all begins with sewing down the binding:


Here is the quilt with the binding sewn onto it, waiting to be hand stitched down (now comes the opportunity for major procrastination to set in):


The thread I selected for hand stitching the binding to the back of the quilt (I usually select a lighter thread that will blend):


Finally the hand stitching is done and the quilt is complete:


It’s done, it’s finally done! (The Reveal)

Terry the Quilting Husband holding up the quilt for its quick photo shoot:


I want to put it on the bed, but our miniature schnauzer Mike thinks there are “snakes in the bed” and has to scratch and spin before laying down. So for now I will keep it on the back of the sofa and put it on the bed on special occasions:


Check out Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer‘s blog Schnauzer Snips for her latest musings.

Books, Music, Podcasts, Studio

Quilter True Confessions


Sloppily sewn down binding.

There, I have confessed.


In my early days of quilting, I was rather impatient with the last stage of completing a quilt – “sewing down binding”. In my mind I was quickly sewing down the binding to the back of the quilt. In reality I was sloppily sewing down the binding to the back of the quilt.

Recently I went to wash an old (my early days of quilting) quilt, and discovered the binding was loose and missing in some areas.

I took a good and honest look at the stitches in the back of this old quilt, and I was APPALLED. Yes that is appalled in all caps because that is how I felt.

As you can see in the image below – on the left side of the rectangle is where the thread left the binding; and on the right side is an example of my sloppy stitching. (Yes, it looks like I was under “some chemical influences” with one eye closed, while I was sewing).


I am going to remove the old binding and redo the entire binding. This time I will carefully sew it down.

I did not realize I had an issue with being sloppy with sewing down binding until a couple of years ago when a friend asked me to help her sew down binding on her quilt. We were at a quilt retreat and in the process of taking a break from sewing and doing the local “quilt shop hop” near the retreat center.

I was sitting in the backseat with a couple other quilters (two were up front and one of the them was driving of course, as we have yet to afford the special QUILTER AUTOMATED VEHICLE that drives you around on its own to quilt shops while you visit with your friends and sew). My friend had a lovely quilt for her son that she was trying to finish and brought along to work on in the car, as it only needed its binding sewn down. So she gave me one end of the quilt to work on while she worked on the other.

She tried to be polite, but she had to remove and redo all the stitches I had done. This is when I realized (as the truth was now starring me in the face): that I need to take sewing down binding more seriously. Binding a quilt deserve the same level of care and patience that goes into piecing a quilt.

I committed to becoming a better “quilt binder” and my quilts over the last couple of years and had high quality binding stitching.

Interesting: once you get into the habit of doing something correct, sometimes you forget what you used to do in the past. I was in shock when I saw what I had done on the old quilt!


Originally when writing this post I was going to title it: “Quilter’s Hall of Shame: Binding”. However ever since listening to the audiobook of Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly (2015) I have no time for the concept or feelings of “shame”. I figure life is a learning and growing experience (for a summary of key insights I gained from reading this book, see my post Life is Nonfiction Part II) and I am not going to fill it with any feelings of shame.


Sewing Down Binding: the final frontier to completion

As a quilter, one of my favorite things is to get a quilt back from the long arm quilter, put on the binding and then sew it down to complete the quilt.  I have quilting friends who hate the binding part, even some with a backlog of finished quilts only awaiting binding. I have included a photo of the recent quilt I got back from the long arm quilter. It is such a treat to watch a movie or TV show and sew down my binding while snuggling under my new quilt.  I would love to hear what other quilters think about sewing down binding….

I received a gift from someone’s estate of new and antique Dutch and Japanese blue and white textiles and used those fabrics to create this quilt. After it was quilted and the binding attached, I laundered it to give it more texture.  

Pattern: “Joining Together Quilt” from the book Quilt Love by Cassandra Ellis, Taunton Press 2012