TGIF: Thank Goodness It's Flanged
Use a flange binding to get a fabulous pop of color in your quilt binding and avoid hand sewing entirely. Now that's what I call a win-win!
Confessions time: I'm not a fan of hand-sewing. I'm very slow at hand work, and I'm always impatient to get a finished project ... well, finished. But I do like a more tailored look to the binding on a quilt, so a technique that lets me machine-finish a quilt while still delivering that clean look is squarely in the middle of my happy place. Flange binding is one of those techniques.
A flange binding is a two-color binding that includes a narrow strip that looks like piping on the inside edge of your binding. It's a wonderful way to add a pop of framing color and coordinate your binding beautifully with your quilt.
Making the Binding
Determine which color is going to be your flange color and which will be your main color.
Cut and join enough 1-3/4" strips of your flange color and 1-1/2" strips of your main color for the perimeter of your quilt + 15-20" for tails when you join the binding. (I know ... it sounds weird that the tiny color strip is wider than the main color strip, but trust me on this.)
Press your join seams open to reduce bulk. You can cut these strips on the bias if you wish, but straight strips work fine for the majority of quilts. Let your personal preference rule!
Sew the strips together along the long edge using a 1/4" seam. After sewing, leave the strip closed and press the strip to set the stitching. This pressing will help to stabilize the stitches by relaxing the fabric around the thread and will smooth any wrinkles or puckers in your stitch line.
Open the strip and press the strip open, with the seam towards the main color side. Be gentle. Don't push and pull with your iron, as that will distort your fabric.
Fold the main color side down so that the raw edges of the strip are aligned. The flange color will fold over leaving a 1/8" flange visible at the top of the strip. Take your time to ensure that the flange has an even and consistent appearance. If you need to, you can allow the raw edges to be a little misaligned in order to keep that flange looking consistent and lovely. Remember, those raw edges are going to be hidden inside the binding.
Attaching the Binding
Once your binding strip is made, you're ready to attach it to your quilt. A traditional binding strip is attached to the front of the quilt and wrapped around to the back before being hand-sewn down. Not so with a flange binding! Let's keep going ...
Pin or clip your binding strip to the back of your quilt, with the flange color side of the binding strip facing up. Leave a tail to make it easy to join your binding strips together. I like a longish tail of about 10" on each end so that I'm not wrestling with the quilt too much when those strips get joined up.
Attach the binding strip to your quilt, mitering the corners as you would with a traditional binding.
When all four sides are attached, join your binding strips together. It can be tricky to ensure that the fold of the flange is meeting in the right spot when you turn the binding strip in the right way. Pro-tips: Leave a long tail so that you have room to work and try using a pin to mark the spot where the stitching needs to cross. Use flat-head pins so that you can leave the pins in to stabilize the fabric and have them pass safely under your presser foot.
After joining your binding strips, trim the excess fabric adjacent to your seam, press your joining seam open to reduce bulk, then stitch down the join section so that your entire binding is attached to the quilt.
Finishing the Binding
Turn the binding and wrap to the front of the quilt. You will see the flange color sitting prettily on the edge. (If you're like me, you will have done a little test wrap before you started sewing the binding on, just to make sure you had everything placed the right way around. Un-sewing is nobody's friend!)
Choose a thread color to coordinate with your flange color. A single line of your bobbin thread will be visible on the quilt back, so you will want to coordinate that thread color also.
Stitch in the ditch between the flange and the main color to anchor the binding to the front of the quilt. You can use a ditching foot if you have one, but your regular foot will also work just fine. The pictures below show my walking foot, but more often than not, I'm just using a regular straight sewing foot. Go with your personal preference.
As you approach each corner, arrange the corner miter carefully. I usually slow waaaaaaay down so that I can catch the absolute corner of the miter with both sides of the binding strip under the needle. This will allow you to lift the presser foot with the needle down and turn your quilt while the needle holds everything in place. You may find it useful to use a stiletto tool to hold everything aligned in the corners as you sew (and it'll help keep your fingers safely out of the way!).
Continue sewing until you have sewn the entire binding strip down to the front of the quilt.
And that's all there is to it. Sure, there are a few more steps involved in making the binding strip, but it's time you'll save (and then some!) by not having to hand sew your binding. If you give it a try, let me know how it went in the comments!
Happy binding, everyone! (Bet you never thought binding could be happy ...)