I have an ongoing battle with myself over quilt binding. Namely, whether or not I should switch over from handsewing my bindings to completely machine sewing them.
My earliest quilts had completely machine sewn binding, if you could call it that! Basically, I cut the backing wider than the front, folded it over a couple of times, and then machine sewed it down. It looked pretty horrible -- partially because I also didn't measure my borders carefully back then, so there were some pretty wavy edges to begin with. Eventually, I moved on to cutting the binding separately and machine sewing it to the quilt. I didn't have a way with dealing with corners, and I also didn't know how to sew the binding strips together diagonally, so I ended up with these really bulky corners and seams.
When I finally started reading the multitude of information available on how to cut and sew a double-folded binding, I couldn't believe that I had avoided it for so long, thinking it was too "hard". There are so many great tutorials online -- here's one if you're not familiar with the process. Although for the longest time, I had to have the instructions handy to remember the steps everytime I had a binding to do, I think I could do them in my sleep now!
My next battle, however, was blindstitching it to the back of the quilt. I've never been a great hand sewer -- all of my attempts at hand quilting have failed miserably, and my applique stitches are definitely nothing to brag about. I hand sewed a lot of bindings, but I wasn't too happy with the stitch, until one day when I changed one little thing by accident, and it was like I had a binding breakthrough! (don't ask me what it was, because I have no idea!) Anyway, after that moment, I was happy with my binding stitches!
I truly enjoy the process of hand sewing a binding. I like to have something to do on long car trips (highway driving -- not windy roads!). I bring quilts to soccer games, meetings, and doctor's appointments, and I love having something to bind when I watch TV. I think I even enjoy spending all that time with the quilt, especially since so many of them go off to new homes shortly thereafter.
However, the process of hand sewing does take time -- in fact, it is usually the longest single time element in the piecing, quilting and finishing processes. From a business standpoint, I've wondered if machine sewing the binding would be a better option. There are some great tutorials -- I particularly love the way Rita's machine sewn bindings come out -- she has a really unique and professional looking technique. I suspect, however, that the reason hers are so nice are that she invests a lot of time in them. So, my battle always ends with picking up the hand-sewing needle, and enjoying the process!
I have binding on the brain, because that's what I've been doing the past five nights! In anticipation of possible power outage due to Hurricane Sandy (we were thankfully out of the path of the storm, as it turns out), I quilted a bunch of tops, and prepared the bindings so they were ready for hand stitching. It has been so cold the last few days that my project of choice every evening has been to sit in the toasty warm living room wrapped in a quilt that needs binding!
a second "Ahoy Matey" quilt. This is a brand-new fabric collection by Michael Miller Fabrics, and it is just so fun and cheerful. I love the combo of navy, aqua, and orangey-red. The center panel is actually sold as 24" wide, but I chose to purchase three panels, and cut them down the middle. The ship is centered differently on the second quilt I made, which I think adds to the fun, modern look. The larger width definitely helped the overall proportions -- I'm not a fan of skinny, long quilts.
this Parisville (by Tula Pink) quilt made from my new pattern "Beads and Baubles".
this Peak Hour quilt in my Hip to Be Square pattern. I have one more quilt from the pile to bind, and then I need to restock for Thanksgiving week car rides, etc!
On an exciting note, I had an unexpected visitor to my blog the other day! In my last post, I started with some pictures of the quilt I just completed using Kate Spain's "Flurry" fabric collection. I was honored, and a bit star-struck, to discover that Kate had stopped by the blog and taken the time to leave me a lovely comment on the quilt! It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Kate's fabric (as well as her blog) so it was absolutely thrilling to find out that she stopped by! Of course, it was a little like when someone stops by your house unexpectedly, and you wish you'd taken the time to fold the laundry or do the dishes earlier in the day! I haven't taken advantage of the "labels" aspect of blog posts, and now I wish I had labeled all of my posts so that Kate could have seen some of the other quilts I made with her fabrics. I plan to do some labeling this weekend in anticipation of the next unexpected visitor, but in the meantime, here is a little collage I made using PicMonkey: