August 12, 2011

Binding Confession

What my binding used to look like.
I hate sewing binding on quilts. I really hate it. It's my least favorite part of the whole process and one I constantly have to remind myself "do it right or pay the price"*. It is normal for me to have a stack of quilts laying around waiting to be bound. If I was rich, I would pay someone to sew the bindings. One of my many mental blocks, as evident in the picture above, it the thickness of the binding. Up until about 2 months ago, I was making really thick binding. I don't know why. Maybe I was worried that it wouldn't wrap all the way around the quilt? Who knows. It looks fine, there's just a wide strip of binding on the back of all my quilts.

This is what my binding looks line now.
 So, then I realized I could make my binding thinner and it would take less fabric and look much cleaner on the back of the quilt. But I still hated sewing binding. It all has to be done by hand, and I was using a slip stitch, which takes forever and shows tiny little stitches.
It reached a point yesterday where I did something that I wish I hadn't. I machine sewed a binding. Ugh. As I was doing it, I thought two things: 1. This is going so fast. Yay! and 2. This feels wrong. I shouldn't be doing this.

Machine sewn binding (front of the quilt).
 But then, last night at quilt guild, I learned something that may change my life forever. Our president Jacquie (of Tallgrass Prairie Studio) showed us how she sews bindings that are invisible and much faster than the slip stitch. It's called the "Invisible Ladder Stitch". There is a great tutorial at Turning*Turning with pictures and instructions. This weekend I plan to tackle my stack of quilts and see how I do with the magic ladder stitch. 

*I just finished reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and started my own happiness project that I call "Kim's grow the f*** up project" and one of my personal commandments is "Do it right or pay the price" (which really means don't take shortcuts). If you don't know the book, go buy it or check it out at the library. I was a little put off by it at first because I feel like I already know everything she recommends doing. The hard part is actually doing everything. Once I stopped judging and being negative about it, I realized that I could definitely benefit from a lot of her ideas. One of my other commandments is "Don't be negative. Ever. About anything.".


  1. I've loved the results of using the ladder stitch for other applications, but "much faster" has never been my experience. I'm very curious to hear about how it goes when you try it!

  2. I'm curious, too. Jacquie says it takes her half the amount of time to sew a binding using ladder stitch vs. slip stitch. Even if it takes the same amount of time, I'll be pleased because it looks nicer.

  3. I personally like the way your machine sewn binding looks - it's a design feature! But yes, you will love the ladder stitch. And you're already a step ahead because you know how to do it on your knits!

  4. I was excited by Jacquie's binding tip too. i do think that it will take a lot of practice for me to get it down...handstitching is not my thing. The quilts you shared on Thursday night were gorgeous!

  5. Thank you for your insights. I am trying this method next!

  6. Ha! You are funny, and's really good to know that other craftpersons have frequent freak out sessions, which then involve cats (cats are so always there, and they have super calming purr abilities). Your quilting is lovely, I love the use of color, and the use of lines (quilting with lots of lines, I think that's how I would do it too, if I quilted). Just ran into your blog, was on Jessie Fair's site, and my cat stepped on my laptop and brought your blog up. funny:)