How to Hand Stitch Binding Invisibly by Nadine Ruggles@Fabric Bias

Tutorial: How to Hand Stitch Binding Invisibly

I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to bindings, so here’s my quick tutorial for hand stitching the binding down to the back of the quilt. When I bind my quilts, I use a French- or double-fold binding. For a medium size quilt with a 3/8″ binding, I cut strips 2ÂĽ” wide, stitch them together with diagonal seams end to end, then fold the binding in half as I put it on the quilt, not beforehand with the iron. It really does fold over the edge of the quilt better if you don’t iron the binding in half before sewing it to the edge of the quilt.

I adjust the seam allowance when I sew the binding down with the machine so that when the binding is flipped to the back of the quilt, the folded edge just barely covers the bobbin thread, and the edge of the quilt fills the binding nicely without being bunched up and lumpy inside. I adjust the seam allowance, sew for 3-4″ and then flip it and check it on every single quilt because this setting can vary so much depending on the fabrics in the quilt and the binding and the batting used in the quilt. Even the weight of the thread can cause a variance in this setting from quilt to quilt.

Once you’ve sewn the binding all the way around the quilt, flip the binding to the back of the quilt and secure temporarily with binding clips. The binding clips really do make the hand sewing easier. Thread your needle and knot the end of the thread; use a single thread, not a doubled thread. Secure the end of the thread under the binding in the edge of the back of the quilt where it won’t be seen. Read More

Paisley Pavane, detail by Nadine Ruggles

Marking Quilting Designs on Dark Fabrics with a Lightbox

Marking quilting designs to dark fabric got you down? Don’t despair! Check out this tutorial for instructions and tips to use a light box to trace designs on your fabric, even if your fabric is black.

Transferring quilting designs is quite possibly the bane of my existence. It’s not my least-favorite part of quilting (that would have to be basting!), but it runs a very close second. It’s a different combination of issues and tools for every quilt you make. During my classes, I hear a lot of questions about the best way to mark quilt designs, what marker to use, how to do it, and the list goes on. Everybody wants a quick answer, but there really isn’t one. There is no “one true way” that works best for every quilt or every design when it comes to quilt marking. I’ve tried a few different methods to mark designs on black or dark fabrics when I didn’t have a stencil or the designs were too complex to make one, and so far, I like this one best.

The step-by-step process: Read More

Quilt Backing Tutorial

After Kathy’s great and precise tutorial at Pink Chalk Studio, this one probably seems a bit slap-dash, but hey, there’s always more than one way to go about it! If I had a set of those ginormous cutting mats in my studio, I might be a bit more precise and exacting when I cut my backings. I work with a 24″ x 36″ mat however—while it isn’t exactly tiny, you can’t cut huge backing-sized pieces of fabric on it. I did think about getting those mats and adding another giant cutting table to the studio, but at the moment, I’m more in love with the floor space than I would be with more furniture in the room. 🙂

So here’s Nadine’s quick and dirty, rip-it-up backing tutorial: Read More

Marking Border Quilting Designs

Since Joyce asked, here’s a short tutorial about fitting border quilting designs when marking a quilt. This is the Swanky quilt, which is about 24″ x 29″ and the border stencil is 2″ wide. For a first try at this method of border marking, use a small-ish quilt, so that the borders aren’t really long. Here’s my slap-dash method for border marking: Read More

Quilt Blocking–A Short Tutorial

Do you block your quilts when they’re complete? Most of the time, I do. Blocking helps the quilt lay flat and hang straight, and can help counteract slight ruffling or waviness in the borders. Here’s what you’ll need:

Blocking a quilt

  • An old, clean sheet or piece of fabric bigger than the quilt (helpful to keep lint or pet hair off the quilt, and a bit of the moisture off the carpet)
  • One wet quilt (I wash most of my quilts in the washer, either with a clear water pre-wash and then soap, or just clear water; you can also start with a dry quilt, and sprinkle or spray water on it to thoroughly wet while it’s on the floor)
  • A tape measure
  • A Stanley S2 Laser Level Square (more on this tool here), or a 15″-24″ square acrylic ruler
  • An oscillating fan or even a ceiling fan if you are lucky enough to have one
  • One cat (optional)

Spread out the sheet on the floor, ideally in a room or area that you can close off for 24 hours to keep curious pets or kids away from the quilt while it dries flat. Carefully spread out the quilt on the sheet, patting it into shape, but not stretching it. Smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles, and try to make the borders look square and even.

Blocking a quilt

Once the quilt is looking as flat as possible, measure across the top, middle and bottom of the quilt. If these measurements are not the same on the top middle and bottom, pat, smoosh, and mash the quilt lightly until they are. Yes, these are very technical methods here, smooshing and mashing. 🙂

Blocking a quilt

Keep working with it until the the measurements are even, and then measure the left, right and center of the quilt top to bottom and repeat the smooshing and mashing process until these three measurements are equal as well.

Once the measurements in each direction are equal, use the Laser Level Square (or the large square ruler) to square up the quilt. The Laser Level Square shines a red laser line all the way down each side of the quilt from the corner to help you straighten the quilt. Using a large square ruler isn’t as easy, but you can at least square up each corner, and eyeball the sides between them to make them straighter. More smooshing and mashing may be required to make the quilt look like a square or rectangle rather than a parallelogram. Examine each corner and side and smoosh and mash until everything is straight and each corner is a 90 degree angle.

Blocking a quilt

Use the measuring tape to check the measurements one more time, just in case anything changed while you were squaring it up. Leave the quilt to dry on the floor for 24 hours, or until completely dry. Picking the quilt up while it’s still damp undoes all your hard work! Use a fan to help speed the drying process.

I block my quilts before I sew on a hanging sleeve or a label. If a quilt is ever washed after it’s been hanging a while, it should be blocked again while drying. I do block most of my quilts that are meant to hang, even king size show quilts, but I don’t block lap or bed quilts if they won’t ever be hung on a wall.

That’s my quilt blocking method. If you have anything to add or a link to your method, share it!

Driven to Quilt Podcast Episode 8: It’s all about accuracy: ways to improve your piecing and quilting accuracy; Barn Quilts: what they are and where to find them; and tips for hand appliquĂ©.

Listen now!

Episode 8 program notes:

Rotary cutting accuracy tips1. Fabric that is not folded correctly for rotary cutting.


Rotary cutting accuracy tips2. Fabric folded correctly for rotary cutting, with no rolls or wrinkles.


Rotary cutting accuracy tips3. Trimming off ragged edges.


Rotary cutting accuracy tips4. Line up the fold with a ruler line.


Rotary cutting accuracy tips5. Check your fold and keep it lined up on a ruler line when cutting strips.


Rotary cutting accuracy tips6. If your strips have a “v” at the fold, the ruler was not lined up correctly at 90 degrees when you cut the fabric.


Rotary cutting accuracy tips7. Cutting angled pieces with the angled lines on the ruler.


Visit Scott Hagan’s website, and these other websites about Barn Quilts:
Monroe County, Ohio website
Ohio Quilt Barns
Quilt Barn Video
Quilt Barns in other states

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