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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Binding Technique!

I learned the neatest thing today and I just have to share. I give absolute full credit to Betty Cotton, author of Cotton Theory Quilting and Nancy Zieman and her program on public television.

Cotton was on part two of a program where she is demonstrating her very unique method of making a reversible quilted jacket. I doubt that I would ever make one but her approach and result were definitely out of the box thinking. The jacket was attractive, but not my style. Her seams were done with a hard to describe method of using two wide bias strips sewn together down the middle then flipped here and there. Nuff said. You had to see it. All seams used the technique which left her with a hem that needed to be bound. She showed a unique way to do this. Her method brings to mind Judy Barlup's method of moving seams to different places to reduce bulk. Remember, "reduce bulk whenever possible", Roberta Carr's cardinal sewing rule.

I had to try this for the binding of my little bishop neck and sleeves. I usually use a double fold or "French" binding for my edges. At the end you always seem to have to fidddle to get it just right and can easily end up with a bumpy lumpy end to your binding. With this technique I can still use my double fold and have a much sleeker finish at the end. Here is what I learned:

First, cut yourself a strip of true bias. I like 2 inches to bind my little bishop necklines. 

Next, cut a trapezoid. You will need to know the finished length of your bound edge. Let's say it is ten inches. To find where to start measuring your edge place a dot in the middle of the strip on the right side. You can find this either by folding the strip in half on the length or just measuring up one inch from the long edge. You measure ten inches plus two 1/4 inch seam allowances from that dot to another dot on the left side that you will make. So the finished length you need is NOT the length of either edge. It is the length in the exact middle plus seam allowances. Take your acrylic ruler and place it to get the 45º angle with the edge of the ruler going right thru the dots you just made. If you enlarge this pic you will see on the right a big blue dot that I measured thru with the ruler to get my 45º angle.

Take the tip of the longest edge and pull it over to the other side. The tip will extend beyond the long edge. It is important to make sure the point is in the middle of the strip.  Sew from where the two edges meet across to the point with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Trim and flat press. Turn the point. (EDIT:

EDIT, 02/18/10: I am going to explain this again, hopefully with a little more clarity for those who don't quite grasp (no pun intended) it. Let's make this easier. Take the trapezoid strip and place it in front of you vertically, right side up. This will put the longest edge of the strip on the right. As you now look at it, grab that longest edge at the very top, the point. Carry it over to the short edge on the left until the point extends about a 1/4 inch beyond the strip. Now, on the left hand side of the strip, at the top left, you will have two raw edges running from the extended little point to the point at the very top in the middle of the strip. Sew a 1/4 inch seam here. Trim the seam and press flat. Turn that point so it is now right side out. Now------
Put your thumb into the corner and pull the fabric around until you no longer have an arrow but have a squared off flat edge. 

You can see how this puts all the bulk further up the binding and it is very secure and flat. There will be no fiddling with turning under the edges. Trim the edge to straighten if it has stretched out a bit like mind did. Remember, bias stretches. Use this strip to now bind your edge on the garment. It is so nice and doggone flat and bulkfree.

You can see it attached to the suiting here. The right edge of the suiting is folded and therefore double and thick.

The binding was folded over and stitched down. Here you can see how nice and thin and flat it all is. Click to enlarge any of the pictures. This was such a Eureka moment  when I tried this. Hope you give this a try for binding anything....Bunny
 ETA: I have added some further description of the folding and stitching and I hope this helps those of you who needed additional  explanation. I had to watch the program  twice and pause to see how she actually did this so I understand it is not that easy to grasp. I guarantee you, it is one of those crazy things that once you try it you will realize it is really quite simple. Shoot me an email if you need any further help..,,,The reverse side of the suiting has one edge folded, like you might have a facing, just to give it more "reality". The binding is a double french fold binding. This is a strip of bias that is folded in half. Both raw edges are lined up with the garment edge to be bound and then stitched by machine. The folded edge is then brought over to the back and stitched down by hand, usually, although certainly can be machine stitched as well. This double binding makes a stronger, more easily finished, prettier edge to the completed binding. Hope this helps.

 This is the public toboggan run on Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, where DH and I spent the day today. There is a large group on the upper steps waiting to come down. This is quite steep and shoots you 2/3s of the way across the lake. This toboggan run is open till very late at night when the party animals show up and give it a try. We've seen it open as late as midnight and the course is all lit across the lake. It's pretty cool and quite the cure for cabin fever!


  1. This method is very intriguing, Bunny. I tape all of NZeiman's shows & I also have the Cotton Theory book, needle, batting & kit from a trip to the Houston Quilt show years ago. (another UFO waiting)
    I will go review both the tape & the book to see if I can make this work.

    I think I get it & your photos are most helpful, but like anything in sewing, I have to fiddle with it myself to be sure I understand it.

    Thanks for sharing!


    Hope you had a great birthday!!! :D

  2. That is very clever,Bunny. I will make a sample of that binding. Betty Cotton's pieceing method is interesting, but like you, those quilted jackets aren't my style. But you never know when you may need to know that technique.

  3. Very interesting technique. It does remind me of how Judy Burlap reduces bulk. I'll have to make a sample.

  4. Wow, thanks for the binding technique. Very interesting. The tobogan run looks like so much fun!


  5. Thanks for the tip on the binding. I will be trying that on the two bishops I'm making for Easter.

  6. Looks great, I certainly will try.

  7. Come again?
    Am I the only one that doesn't get this?
    The part " Sew from where the two edges meet across to the point" is especially confusing. Also would you mind showing the reverse side of the suiting with the binding? are you sewing just one edge and handsewing the other side (as one would normally do on a bishop)?

  8. Great technique! I can't wait to try this.

  9. Very cool! Looks pretty easy and would definitely reduce the bulk at ends, which I find pretty annoying. It also reminds me of the way Kenneth King reduces bulk around the edges of pocket flaps, with diagonal seaming underneath. I think there was a Threads article and it is in Cool Couture.

  10. This is great Bunny! Thank you for the edited explanation. I think I get it now. I am going to try this!

  11. This is very cool! Love the neatness and the crispness.

  12. Bunny, I just returned from a class with Gail Doane and she suggested that we check your blog for the neatest way to finish the binding on a bishop without added bulk. It was the first thing I did when I got home because I did not want to forget about it. I can't wait to try it!! Looks like a great idea and the bishop she showed us using this technique looked great. Kudos to you!!!

  13. If this was the class in Boston, I sooooo wanted to attend but work and family issues just prevented it. Glad you and she liked the technique, which, once again, I didn't think of.


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