One issue that I wanted to address was how I could make my bindings more durable. I do not enjoy sewing the binding on by machine. It is durable, but I enjoy hand sewing the binding and I didn't want to give that up. But I was having problems with the stitching on my binding breaking occasionally, especially when my kids tugged on them. So when I made this quilt last year, I decided to try "hand quilting" the binding.
This quilt is super soft because it was made with woven fabrics and has become a favorite with my kids so it has been washed A LOT. The binding has held up beautifully. The above photo was taken when I made the quilt and the photo below was taken his morning. It's not the prettiest stitching that has ever been done, but I like what it adds to the quilt.
Since I made this quilt, I have slowly started binding all of my quilts this way.
- Perle Cotton (size 8) or a thick thread like Aurifil Floss (this is thicker and a little trickier to work with but gives a really pretty, rustic finish)
- Embroidery needle - I use all of these sizes depending on the exact thread that I am using
- Small, sharp scissors - I like these
There are several different types of Perle cotton available. I have used Valdani, DMC, and Presencia and have liked them all. You could also use a heavier weight thread, like Aurifil floss, Aurifil 12wt, or a few strands of embroidery thread.
You will also need a needle, embroidery or crewel work well. The main thing is that the eye of the needle is large enough to thread the thick Perle cotton but not so large that it is hard to pull the needle through all of the layers. You will also need a thimble to push the needle. A thimble will save your finger as you rock the needle through the fabric.
This is not exactly related to big stitch binding, but there are a few things that I like to do to my binding.
- Zig zag stitch the raw edges. I think I heard about this from Heather a while back, but it gives the quilt a nice, crisp edge and I think it helps keep things together. It only takes a few minutes and is well worth it.
- Press the binding toward the raw edge. This is super quick and it makes hand sewing the binding much easier.
- Make the binding extra wide. How thick do you cut your binding strips? When I first started quilting, I cut mine 2.25". Gradually I moved to 2.5", now I do 2.75" or 3". It is much easier to get a mitered corner with a wider binding and I love the feel. I use a seam allowance that is wider than 1/4" and the size of the seam allowance varies on the binding material, batting etc. As you can see in the photo below, it does clip the corners of my blocks closest to the edge, but I have decided that it does not bother me one bit.
Secure your binding with clips and choose a thread color. I like to use a thread that contrasts with my binding, but matches the quilt.
Start sewing! If you have hand quilted before, this will feel really familiar. You can rock the needle just with hand quilting, but the needle doesn't go all of the way through the quilt. I can usually load 3 stitches on my needle before pulling it through. If you haven't hand quilted before, this tutorial by Sarah Fielke is excellent.
Here is a photo of the reverse side. Because you are sewing through so many layers, it actually takes quite a bit of effort to pull it through to the other side. Sewing through the binding and backing takes just the right amount of effort. Keep going until you have finished quilt. I miter the corners in exactly the same way as when I was trying to hide my stitches, so that hasn't changed.
I hope that helps anyone who was interested. If you have any questions, post them in the comments section and I will do my best to answer!