Not every quilt needs a frame – sometimes those edges just want to be left alone in peace! That’s where a self binding finishing method comes in handy.
What do you mean “self binding”?
It’s possible to finish your quilt without a binding. I’m going to show you how I used a “self binding” method to bind my Christmas mini quilt to give a more modern look. The method (in my opinion) is best suited to small items such as mini quilts, table toppers or baby quilts. I wouldn’t be prepared for the work required to implement this method with a large quilt. (But if you’re that way inclined, go for it!)
I’ve seen this method referred to as self binding, no binding and the pillowcase method. You’ll go through basting and backing, just in a different configuration.
Baste your quilt top
First up, you need to baste your quilt top to your batting. Because I’ve just got a small mini quilt, I used poly batting and some basting spray. You’ll want to add a few lines of quilting here to make sure your two layers are well secured. Stitching in the ditch along a couple of lines would be perfect.
I actually decided to go to town and do most of my quilting at this stage. Why? Because I’m lazy! I knew that quilting when the backing is on will require thread burying, which isn’t my idea of a fun night in.
Using my walking foot I straight line quilted, using the seams as rough guides. I quilted it fairly densely as I like my mini quilts to have a fair bit of structure.
Once your batting and quilt top are secured (however you decide to go) trim off the excess batting and square it up.
Attach your backing
You’ll now need a backing piece the same size as your quilt top/batting piece. Place the top and backing right sides together.
Pin all around the edges, but remember to leave an open section to turn the work right side out after sewing. You can learn from my mistake here – locate your gap along one side so that only one fabric is involved. I left my turning gap along the top of the quilt and it spanned several different coloured fabrics, which makes it harder to match the thread when hand sewing it closed.
I’ve pinned my edges above. You’ll see I’ve put two pins in the one spot – that’s my little code to remind me where my turning gap is, so I remember not to sew the whole perimeter closed.
I used my walking foot and a 1/2″ seam as the seams are quite bulky with all the layers. If this were a larger quilt I would also zig zag the raw edges or use the “serger” stitch on my machine just to help it stand up to washing better.
Once I’ve sewn the backing and top together around the edges I like to take the time to press back my turning gap seams. I find it easier to get them straight from the back side, rather than when the piece is right side out.
I also like to trim my corners to make sure there’s less bulk (but be careful not to clip your stitching).
Close the turning gap
Once you’ve pressed your turning gap seams you can turn the piece right side out.
Give the quilt another press. Focus on setting the seams around the edges and making sure your turning gap edges are still aligned and straight. I’ve pinned the turning gap closed below.
Now it’s time to whip stitch the turning gap closed with some hand sewing. I like to start with a nice long thread, which I double up. I put both cut ends through the eye of the needle and keep the thread loop at the other end. When you take your first stitch, pop the needle through the loop before pulling the stitch tight. This will make the loop close into a sturdy starting knot that will never come undone. It’s my favourite way to tie on a thread.
Quilt, quilt, quilt!
Once your turning gap is closed you’re ready to quilt the piece so the backing is better fixed to the top. If you have a larger project, you may like to put some basting pins in to make sure you don’t get any bunching or tucks in your backing. And remember that you’ll have to bury your ends at the beginning/end of your seam lines. Your start/end points can’t be later secured by the binding. (This is why I did so much quilting earlier.)
Because this is just a mini quilt I felt that two lines, about a third in from each edge, would work a treat. They’re a bit hard to see below.
And again, because it’s a wall decoration and won’t be washed, I just did a few backstitches at the start and end of each line. No thread burying for me!
Another good press, and there you have it.
If this was a larger quilt, I would have also done a perimeter of “top stitching” around the edge. This would add some extra strength and to help keep the edge seams where they should be.
So there you have it – one way of creating a no binding finish, or a self binding quilt.
If you like this pattern and would like to make a Christmas mini quilt of your own, you can find the pattern in my shop here.
Have you tried the self binding method before? Do you have any tips for young players? I’d love to hear them below.