Can you believe it’s time to finish up String of Pearls? It’s been a wonderful few months. I really enjoyed taking this quilt at a slower pace over a longer time period. It seems like that gave everyone more of a breather to work at their own pace. Be sure to visit my Quilt Along main page for links to all of my other quilt alongs.
And now – onto the binding! It took me a total 8 hours for this part of the tutorial, which includes finishing by hand. This tutorial is pretty long and heavy on the pictures but I would rather show too much than too little.
Step 1 – Making Continuous Binding (20 Minutes)
I’m sewing my binding strips together slightly differently than I usually do to make use of the scrappy strips. From tutorial part 6.1, you should have a total of 13 Pearl Bracelets strips that measure 2.25″ by about 21″. This will be exactly the right amount of strips needed to make the quilt size approximately 66″ x 66″.
If you are using the same continuous fabric, measure the perimeter of your quilt and add 10″. For String of pearls that is 274″ (66+66+66+66+10). Then divide this number by 42″ to get your number of strips needed. In this case it would be 6.5 (round to 7) full strips measuring 2.25″ x 42″.
Join your scrappy strips end to end with 1/4″ seam allowances so that you have a continuous strip. For faster assembly, chain piece your strips. Press the seams open, then fold in half wrong sides together along the length and press completely. The folded binding should now measure about 1 1/8″ wide.
Hint: if using all one fabric, join the strips together with mitered seams. This uses up more fabric, but distributes the bulk of the seams.
Step 2 – Squaring up the Quilt (10 Minutes)
I like to trim away all of the excess batting before I add the binding. For me, the less bulk to deal with the better! Using a large square acrylic ruler and rotary cutter, trim off each of the 4 corners of the quilt. Try to keep it as flat and square as possible. You can tug and yank on the quilt a little if needed to make sure you have nice 90 degree corners.
Hint: If you’d like to stuff your binding, you can leave a small sliver of batting (less than 1/4″) all the way around. Then be sure to cut wider 2 1/2″ binding strips to accommodate the bulk.
Now with a long acrylic ruler, trim up all four sides. I will slide the ruler along the length of the quilt if needed. You can throw the excess backing and batting away, or toss the fabric in your scrap pile and save the batting to make free-motion quilting practice sandwiches.
Step 3 – Attaching the Binding to the Quilt (45 Minutes)
Because of the scrappy nature of the binding, I always “pre-measure” the binding around the quilt. I want to make sure that none of the sewn seams ends up in the corner. Start somewhere away from a corner, with a few inches of extra binding tail hanging off. Pin part of the binding to the front of the quilt, then “walk” it around the perimeter of the quilt to see where the seams fall. Adjust as needed until no seams are in the corners.
Once you are satisfied with the placement, begin sewing the binding to the front of the quilt with 1/4″ seam, making sure at least 6″-8″ of tail is hanging loose. I prefer to use a neutral cotton thread when sewing. Be sure that the raw edges of the binding line up with the raw edges of the quilt. Use a walking foot or built-in even feed when stitching.
When you get to a corner, stop sewing 1/4″ away from the end and sew off the corner at a 45 degree angle. This will form a nice miter on the front.
Take the quilt off the machine and fold a length of binding up and away from your quilt, forming a straight line like so:
Bring the binding strip back down, folding over the excess in the corner. The top of the binding should be even with the edge of the quilt.
Continue sewing the next side of the binding on the quilt. Be sure you sew completely from the corner. Grab the thread tails as you do this so they don’t bunch up and make a mess. When you get to the next corner, repeat the steps above to sew around all 4 corners.
When you near the end, stop sewing at least 6″-8″ away from your original starting point, leaving at least another 6″ tail of binding. You will now join the ends to make a continuous binding.
Open up the ending tail and place the beginning tail inside it. Mark a line showing where the beginning tail meets up. Cut 1/2″ away from this line to allow for seam allowances.
Pin the two ends and join with 1/4″ seam allowance ensuring that you don’t accidentally twist it out of place (trust me I have done that) and finger press the seam open.
Fold the binding wrong sides together again and finish attaching it to the front side of the quilt. Flip the binding to the back and check out your gorgeous mitered corners!
Step 4 – Pinning or Clipping the Binding to the Quilt (30 Minutes)
I love using Clover Wonder Clips for securing my binding to the back of my quilt in preparation for stitching it down. They come in two sizes, regular and jumbo. I’ve tried both for binding and the regular size work the best. You can also use pins.
It takes about 80-100 clips to secure the entire binding for this size quilt. However, you could get away with fewer and just move them along as you sew.
Be sure to fold down the corners in opposite directions to create nice miters on the back and secure with a couple of pins or a clip.
Step 5 – Hand Stitching to Finish (5 Hours, 45 Minutes)
I usually use a thread color to match my binding. However, when making a scrappy binding, I will sew with a thin neutral colored blending thread.
Hint: thread several needles at once to save time later. Simply cut a new length of thread as needed.
Cut off about 18″ of thread to work with and make a knot on the end by holding the thread end parallel to the needle and wrapping it around the needle 3 times. (I usually just use whatever small needles are lying around.)
Slide the knot past the needle and all the way through to near the end of the thread.
Sew the binding in place by hand. Grab a little bit of the backing and a little bit of the binding with each stitch. For a hidden finish, try to insert the needle right along the fold of the binding. Use a thimble to help push the needle through the quilt. Hide the thread tail in the binding fold.
Continue sewing, cutting a new length of thread when needed and hiding your knots in the binding seam. When you get to a corner, be sure to sew the corners closed on both front and back. When you reach your starting place, take a few extra stitches to overlap, then “pop” your ending knot into the quilt and trim off the excess thread.
For final presentation, use a lint roller to pick up all the excess threads and fuzz from both the front and back of the quilt. I work on one corner of the quilt at a time, tearing off a new lint sheet as needed when it gets full. I used 2 sheets on the front and two on back. This is also a good time to go over the quilt and clip off any excess threads poking through.
Enjoy your finished quilt!
String of Pearls Final Stats
- Finished Size 64″ x 64″ (shrunk up 2 inches after quilting)
- Total Time to Finish 60 Hours
- Cotton Fabrics, Pearl Bracelets and Kona Solids
- Legacy Wool Batting
- Pieced Backing, Shades of Grey
- Aurifil Cotton Thread, 50 wt and Sew Fine Polyester, 50 wt
- Quilted on my Bernina 710
- Completed August, 2013
Remember to share pictures of your finishes at Christa’s Quilt Along on flickr.
Quilt Along Schedule – links will be active at the completion of each step:
- String of Pearls Introduction
- Step 1 – Rotary cutting all the pieces
- Step 2 – Sewing all the “pearl” blocks
- Step 3 – Completing the quilt top
- Step 4 – Backing and basting
- Step 5 – Machine quilting #1 straight lines
- Bonus – Extra spiral quilting
- Step 6 – Machine quilting #2 swirls ‘n pearls
- Step 7 – Binding to finish
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