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Lesson: Finish A Layered Item
Assemble & Bind

quilts, placemats, hot pads

add binding to quilt or hot pad

Binding adds a nice, finished edge to a layered item.

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Finishing A Quilt Or Other Layered Item

A "quilt" consists of 3 layers: the backing, the batting and the decorative top layer. After assembling the layers, the item is quilted, either by hand or machine. This stitching holds the three layers together.

Smaller items, such as hot pads and placemats, do not require quilting. Quilting can be added for detail.

PROJECT SHOWN ABOVE: For the free pattern & lesson for the "Happy Day Applique" shown above, go to: Happy Day Applique - free lesson using fusible web.

1. Attach Hanging Sleeve

If you wish to attach a hanging sleeve to a small project that will not be quilted, do that now. The hanging sleeve will be stitched to the right side of your backing piece before the layers are stitched together.
Refer to: Hanging Sleeve Directions.

If you are going to quilt your piece, the hanging sleeve must be added AFTER quilting (or you will stitch through the hanging sleeve). In that case, proceed to the next step.

2. Assemble Layers

binding Lap quilts, placemats and other layered items are assembled in the following way: quilt back on the bottom - wrong side up, batting on top of backing, quilt top on the top - right side up.

In place of batting (for small pieces such as placemats), I often use craft felt or fusible fleece. This is inexpensive compared to actual batting, and can be bought by the yard.

For quilts, the weight of batting chosen depends on several factors. Will the item be hand quilted? Is warmth important? Do you prefer natural cotton? A sales person at a quilting store can help you choose the correct batting for your project.

An iron-on batting is nice because it is ironed onto the wrong side of the quilt backing piece, and can be re-positioned later if needed. Once it is in place, the quilt top can be ironed on over it. The three layers are held in place until you are ready to stitch them together. NOTE: Iron-on batting is not easier for everyone. I have found that I prefer to pin my layers together.

Fusible fleece (for placemats or small wall hangings) is nice, too, because it holds the layers together until they are stitched.

Aligning Layers
There are many different methods for aligning your layers. Techniques differ. I advise you to refer to a good quilter's book for instruction. This is the technique I use. If you have a large table to lay your quilt out on, use it. If a table is not available, use any large, clean surface. Lay the backing down first, wrong side up. Lay the batting over the backing. Lay the quilt top on top, right side up. Measure your quilt diagonally and mark the center. Measure on the other diagonal and mark the center. The two centers should align: if not, adjust the quilt. Pin the layers together in the center. Keep layers of fabric taut (smooth our wrinkles). Move out from the center and pin again. Do this in each direction. Keep doing this until you have the three layers pinned throughout the quilt (baste the layers for hand quilting). When finished pinning, baste the outer edges of the layers together; trim. You are now ready for machine or hand quilting (or tie-off) and binding.

2. Finishing Without Binding

Method One
Trim the batting or felt .5" smaller in height and width than your quilt top and backing pieces. Iron under a .25" hem around all four sides of your quilt back and quilt top. Now, layer the batting on top of the wrong side of the quilt backing. Fold the quilt backing hem over the batting edges, so the batting edges are hidden under the hem of the backing. Lay the top layer over the other two layers. Stitch through all three layers, very close to the edge (a zipper foot is helpful here). NOTE: It may be helpful to use a temporary roll-on or iron-on bond adhesive to hold the edges for you before they are sewn (caution: some iron-on adhesives cannot be sewn through - they are used in place of sewing). I would recommend hand basting through all three layers before your final stitching is done.

topstitch placemat Method Two
Another method for finishing a piece without use of binding (I use this on my placemats) is to fuse or baste the batting (or fleece) to the wrong side of the backing fabric. Then, stitch the backing to the front fabric, right sides together, leaving an area open for turning. I use a .25" seam allowance. Turn the placemat right side out, then top stitch all the way around. The apple placemat was created this way.

3. Attach Binding

stitch binding Mitered Corners - Front
Press under .25" of the starting end of your binding piece. The photo shows the start and end of the binding. I folded down the end of the binding so you can see the starting point. This will give a finished end to the start of yoru binding. Start stitching the the long, raw edge of the binding to the raw edge of the quilt top, right sides together, about 1/3 of the way up one side of the quilt (where your eye won't pick up the place where the two binding ends will meet). See figure 1. Stop stitching .25" from the end. See figure 2.

bind quilt side 1
Figure 1
bind quilt side 2
Figure 2

Pivot your project and fold the binding straight up, away from you. This will create a 45-degree fold line. See figure 3. Fold the binding straight down, lining up edges. Stitch from top edge. See figure 4.

bind quilt side 3
Figure 3
bind quilt side 4
Figure 4

Continue stitching around, creating mitered corners as you go. When you come around to where you began, stitch the two binding ends together and stitch the last area of binding into place.

Mitered Corners - Back
Turn the binding to the back of your quilt. A mitered corner will automatically form on the front side, but you must help things a bit on the back. First, fold one corner down at a 45 degree angle from the corner (figure 1 below).

Then, fold under one side, creating a mitered corner fold (figure 2 below).

Last, turn under the other side, creating a mitered corner fold (figure 3 below). Press well and hand stitch into place using an invisible hem stitch around all loose edges.


pinned binding The following photo shows the binding after it has been stitched to the front and folded over and pinned into place on the back. This photo also shows part of the hanaging sleeve. I hand stitched the binding into place on the back.

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