Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How to Bind a Quilt with Minky Fabric (and how to join binding ends)

Yes! It can be done!

Backstory: I made a t-shirt quilt for my daughter's school auction. It has shirts and plaid from uniforms. I really wanted to back this quilt in Minky, because I think it would make it even more appealing. But then, all I could think was how dull a plain cotton binding would be, especially from the back. So I was determined to figure out how to bind with Minky.

If you've not ever worked with Minky fabric, it's notoriously squirrelly. It's polyester, it's slippery, and it's stretchy width-wise. Many people hate even putting it on the backs of quilts. My solution to that is to use spray baste. If you pin baste, you will likely have problems because the backing could stretch and you might get puckers. However, if you spray baste, the batting acts as a stabilizer and the Minky doesn't stretch. My favorite spray baste is 505. It's not stinky like some of the others, and as long as you don't apply it too heavily, it doesn't gum up your needle. In fact, I spray it indoors and can't even smell it.

Oh, and though I quilt my quilts on a straight stitch machine, for this part I used my trusty Kenmore.

It only has 12 stitches!

I lowered my presser foot pressure down to zero and I lengthened the stitch length to about 3.

Anyway, I knew the typical double fold binding would not work with Minky. It was too stretchy, and the binding would be so bulky. After some experimenting, here's how I did it.

First, I cut my binding strips 1 3/4 inches wide. I joined them as you would a typical cotton binding. I was sure the keep the nap of the Minky going the same way.

I used a straight stitch to attach the binding to the back of the quilt. You'll see later why I chose to do this on the back. I forgot to take a photo here, but rest assured it's just like attaching any other binding, including at the corners. I did try to put it on so that when I was doing my final stitching, I would be sewing with the nap instead of against it. I attached it at about 3/8 inch, or the width of my walking foot.

I like to join my binding ends, so here's a little bonus tutorial! Be sure to leave a tail at the beginning of attaching your binding, as you probably do already. Then, when you approach the end, after you've sewn all the way around, leave another tail of about six inches, overlap the binding ends and trim your excess so that it's the same as the width you originally cut the binding. In this case, 1 3/4 inches. If you look closely, you can see the tail from the start of the binding peeking out right at 1 3/4 inches. Cut the end tail.

Overlap the ends like you would when making binding. You have to scrunch up the quilt to do this. It's awkward, to be sure.

 Pin in both directions and make a diagonal line from the corner of the top binding to the corner where the bottom binding meets the top. It should be a 45 degree angle. Again, just like joining binding strips.

Sew on the line.

This is what it should look like. Don't trim yet!

First, lay your quilt flat and make sure you didn't accidentally twist your binding when you joined it.

Okay, NOW you can trim your excess out of the binding seam allowance.

Now, if you've ever taken a class with me, you know that pinning is not my favorite thing. When I'm piecing, I rarely pin, unless I feel like I really need to. I think in general that pinning can distort things and make matching corners even harder. However, in this case? I pin. A lot.

Start sewing behind the point you stopped attaching your binding, backstitch, and slowly sew the rest of the binding on. Oh, yeah, I'm sewing over pins here. The truth is, if I'm using these pins, I sew over them fairly regularly. They're very fine. Because they're fine, the needle tends not to hit them. They're kind of expensive, but they are hands down my favorite. 

All done! No puckers!

Begin stitching from the front side. I used a three-step zigzag. I think it's much more secure than a regular zigzag. I simply ran my presser foot along the raw edge on the left.

At the corners, I stitched into the corner a bit, then took the quilt off the machine and folded the next side of the binding down to miter the binding.

That's it! I used a few pins to make sure I didn't get a pucker at the point where I approached the start of the zigzagging, but only about three. And because of the shape of the bit of Minky I had left over, it was even going cross-grain, which is the stretchy way! 

 So the reason I didn't sew the Minky onto the front of the quilt and zigzag from the back (like a typical binding) is that you can't quite tell what's happening on the back. For the most part, my back looks like this.

But in a few places, the zigzag ventured into the binding. 

If this had been on the front of the quilt, it would have been really noticeable. On the back, it's not so bad.

I hope this inspires you to use Minky for bindings some time!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I'm official!

Big news: yesterday I officially registered as a business in the state of Wisconsin! Welcome to unSpooled! I still have to come up with a logo and website and EVERYTHING else, but it's a start!

My focus will be teaching quilting classes as well as making skating dresses. Also, I'll be traveling to North Carolina next month to become an official tuffet instructor! I'm so excited!

In the meantime, here are some skating photos! I made these teams' dresses! I'm hoping to do more synchronized skating dresses as well as individual skaters' dresses.

Madison Ice Diamonds Beginner 2:

Beaver Dam Beginner 1: