Monday, April 6, 2015


It is a nuisance to have to do something over when your work ended too imperfectly.  I mentioned before that a judge commented on my "Fenestra Rosa" that there was a problem with the binding.  She didn't elaborate so I could only guess at the specifics of my offense.  I want to show the quilt some more and decided that it would be best to remove the binding and do it over again.  Grrrrr!  Back to bulldog mode.

The first time, I blocked the quilt and bound it with a method that machine stitches mitered corners.  You cut the binding lengths to match the quilt measurements plus an extra couple of inches.  Once the sides are sewn up to, but not including the seam allowance, you stitch the ends of two bindings together in a miter, press and turn.  The corner is beautifully formed...theoretically.  It looks really nice when done right, but it takes practice to get it right.  Ricky Tims does his quilts this way, but I have not achieved his level of expertise.  My problem might have been a tiny nipple at the point of the turned corner.

TIP:  With this method, if you get a nipple on your corner you may have to do the whole side over because you have trimmed the inner seam just like you would a collar point so there's not much left to work with.

After removing the errant binding I soaked the quilt and re-blocked it.  I first took 3 measurements horizontally and 3 measurements vertically, i.e. 1-2" from the edge of each side, top and bottom and one across the middle of each dimension.  They may not match perfectly, but you can work with some minor discrepancy.  If you have a major discrepancy you may have to trim.   Then I averaged the numbers to get the final dimensions of my quilt.  Next I hauled out my sheet of 1" styrofoam from the local big box hardware store and laid out blue painter's tape in a rectangle so the inner edges were the dimensions of my quilt.  Be sure to measure the diagonals as well.  They must be equal to each other.  A non-square corner can throw the whole thing off.

My Blocking Board
(I have done several quilts so there are extra blue tape lines to ignore.)
After the quilt has soaked throughly ring out as much water as possible, rolling it in a towel to sop it up, or spin it in the washing machine.  Now you are ready to pin with long glass-top pins (at least that is what I use).  I don't like t-pins as they are not as sharp.  Start pinning in the seam allowance at the center of each side and the corners, and then fill in, stretching where necessary, or patting and pinning down excess if needed.  Pins should end up about 1 inch apart all the way around the quilt.  When carefully measured and pinned the quilt will dry into perfect measurements and will stay that way until soaked again.

"Fenestra Rosa" pinned into submission.
This is where I think I went wrong.  The second time around I noticed that the top of the quilt is slightly wider or stretchier than the bottom, which has more quilting because of the lattice.  If my blocking was shoddy when I used pre-measured binding I may have stretched or eased the binding to get it to fit.  Who knows?  I don't remember.  I did not have the option of trimming because I was afraid that would mess up the carefully calculated junction between the background and the arch (scroll down to last week's post to see the quilt).

TIP:  It really comes down to accurate blocking.  If the quilt is off in any dimension it will not hang straight and the judges will catch it every time.  If the quilt is for home use and will only hang on the clothesline this need not be an issue.

This time I bound the quilt with Sharon Schamber's method and it went very smoothly.  We'll see what I get back from future shows.

Happy Stitching until next week.


  1. Oh that is so frustrating! Especially that the judge didn't expand on the problem with the binding. I do hope redoing it will get good marks by the next judge!

  2. What a stunning quilt! I'm sorry to hear about your binding situation. I recently finished a project that I know I could do a better job on the binding but I was so glad to have it finished I just left it as it was. Maybe after a few more attempts to improve my technique I'll go back and fix it. You've definitely inspired me to do just that!

    1. My daughter made a bunch of placemats just to work on her binding technique. It is a good idea, but I haven't pursued it that aggressively.

  3. Such a beautiful quilt, Mardi! You have definitely put a lot of time in planning and executing an amazing design. Hope you can manage to get the new binding on to your satisfaction!

  4. I find binding the most challenging part of quilting! I use a variation on Ricky Tim's method with piping for my 'fancier' quilts, and a variation on others. I sew together all the binding strips, but start at the corner, so 3 corners are mitered by like you would for continuous binding, and the final corner is one the way he does it. The challenge I have (and my standards are not nearly as high as yours!) is the final machine stitching so that both the front and back stitching lines look good. I just can't seem to stay keep the lines consistent. You have such a beautiful quilt. I hope the re-application of the binding will satisfy the judges!