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Thread: Squaring up the quilt top prior to binding

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Can anyone give me suggestions on how to square up your quilt top prior to putting on the binding? I keep cutting and cutting and gradually my borders get thinner and thinner. Any quick tips. Also, I try to miter my corners but they just don't seem to work right--any quick tips there too?Thanks for the info.

  2. #2
    Carla P's Avatar
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    Well, first would be squaring up your quilt top. I would put it in the washing machine, hand-wash cycle/gentle cycle, and only allow minimal agitation if any at all. After the top is saturated, spin all of the water out, then carefully remove it from the washer. Spread it out on a table, the floor, or a wall, pulling it (gently) tight, or until it has no wrinkles or loose spots. If possible, attach it to the surface you have it stretched out on, for example pin it to the carpet or tape it to the wall or table. Leave it in place until it is completely dry; aiming a fan at the top will aid in the drying process. After it is dry, place a straight pin in each corner, so they each look like a nail partially hammered into a board, each positioned in each "corner of the square". Just as a builder squares a foundation of a building with sticks & string, wrap a string or thread around each pin going from one to the next. There are a couple of different ways to mark these lines. You can mark them with a wash out pen, fabric marker, or place talc or cinnamon on your thread & pop them like a chalk line. Either way you choose will give you your cutting line.

    As far as mitering your border, after you square your top, sew on each of your border strips, leaving more legnth than the width of your border strip. For example, a 6 inch border, I would recommend a 7 inch "tail" on each end, and stop sewing 1/4 inch from each end of your top. (I usually take one of my rulers before I begin sewing & mark the 1/4 inch start & stop point of each corner.) This is the important step. If you do not leave the 1/4 inch at each corner your miter will not lie flat, but instead be puckered. I will refer you to a couple of links with pictures for the remainder of the process. There are a couple of ways to choose from, & the pictures will show it better than I can explain it so you will understand.

    http://www.geocities.com/quiltfrenzy/miter.html

    http://www.frommarti.com/miter.html

    http://www.kayewood.com/tips.html

    I hope what I have said helps, and makes sense. There are many ways to do either of these tasks, so I'm sure someone else here will be able to offer a more simple method.

    Good luck!

  3. #3

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    Dec 2006
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    Thanks for the tips. I should have said binding, though, not borders as to mitering and getting square. I suppose it is the same--making sure to leave enough to make those corners square. Thanks. I will give it a try. Never tried the string pin method, but sounds like a great way to do it.

  4. #4
    Suz
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    Carla,

    I square my quilts after quilting. I take two measurements. One in the center in both directions. Write these numbers down. Then measure each outside edge along the borders. Compare these numbers to the ones first taken. They should be very similar. At this point you can do minimal trimming.

    Using the shortest measurement from the two opposing sides, measure your binding piece to match this measurement. Your binding piece should be yards long so do not cut it, just make your quilt fit within the shortest measurement. Fold the binding in half and match it to the center point of the quilt and pin; then into quarters, etc, easing to distribute any fullness. Stitch, make the corner mitre and then start the process over again for the next side.

    Do not start your binding at a corner. Attempt to start it in the middle of one side using only half of the measurement and the balance when you get to the last side.

    You will be able to test how well you did once the binding process is complete by bringing the opposing edges together at the corners and see if they are the same. (Incidentally, judges for quilt shows do then when judging.)

    Some quilters just slap their binding on and never bother to measure. This is why their projects are wavy when hung.

    Lastly, I only use bias binding on an edge that is curved, otherwise I use a double straight-grain binding. The formula is 6 x the finished binding width + 1/4". Example for a 1/2" binding: 6 x 1/2 = 3" + 1/4" or strips cut at 3-1/4". (The 1/4" is taken up in the thickness of the quilt. If you are using a thicker batt, increase the 1/4".) Once all of your strips are connected in one long strip, press in half lengthwise and then align the raw binding edge of your quilt project. Stitch a scant 1/2" on the right side of the quilt. Press the binding away from the body of the quilt and when you get to stitching on the back side, your folded edge is ready.

    I know this reply is lengthy but hope it gives you another option. Suzanne

  5. #5

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    Dec 2006
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    Wow! Wonderful hints and helps. I have gotten so many great suggestions. You make it sound so easy---but I know it's not. Will try all, as I have 3 quilts to bind--one a queen size, one a wall hanging and one a baby quilt. I will put all suggestions to good use. Thanks a bunch..

  6. #6
    Suz
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    Sondra, (sorry about calling you Carla),

    One very important thing that I forgot. I ALWAYS PUT ON MY WALKLING FOOT WHEN BINDING. This will ensure that all layers arrive at the end of the row TOGETHER.

    Suzanne

  7. #7

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    Dec 2006
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    Thanks, yes I always also use the walking foot.

  8. #8

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    May 2007
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    Wow !! I have not been able to square up either. I am a novice quilter but I love it. Thanks for all the help. Now if I can only remember my password I had to re register to get back in.
    Martha :lol:

  9. #9

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    RE Passwords. I keep all my passwords for my computer in a small address book alphabatized, I have thirty or so. No kids in the house and my laptop is ihn my bedroom, so pretty safe. Spouse is not the least bit computer savvy. so it works for me. piecefully yours CMM

  10. #10
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sondra
    Can anyone give me suggestions on how to square up your quilt top prior to putting on the binding? I keep cutting and cutting and gradually my borders get thinner and thinner. Any quick tips. Also, I try to miter my corners but they just don't seem to work right--any quick tips there too?Thanks for the info.
    I don't cut the edges when I square up a quilt prior to binding. I use a marker only. This way the edges aren't moving around on me. Basically I mark the edge with a permanent Sharpie instead of cutting the edge. I place my folded binding raw edges against the Sharpie mark when sewing the binding on. After the binding is sewn on, I cut the quilt edge.

    To get miters on the binding to come out right, you have to be very exact about your stitching lines; you cannot go a stitch over or a stitch under. There are various ways to ensure this. Here is a Youtube video that shows one way:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wprg5vzkuGw

    I think actually one of the most foolproof ways to make good miters on binding is to use a Martelli minute miter tool:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wprg5vzkuGw
    Their zip bind tool is supposed to be super for helping to fold the binding exactly too, whether finishing by hand or machine. If you Google, you should be able to find some reviews of these tools. I'm planning to get them before I have to bind my next quilt.

    Mary

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