Monday, September 19, 2011

How To, With a Twist

I have been doing some thinking and reading about how to add value to my blog. What can I offer to my readers that might actually benefit them beyond entertainment? (Although I do hope you will always be entertained when you stop by!) I have considered a give-away, and one is in fact coming but not until October 1 when I unveil some exciting news...(intrigued? I hope so!) So instead, I've decided to run a three part How To series. I know that many of you are creative people who can't help but try every new craft that even slightly interests you, and even if you don't necessarily want to try it yourself you're likely interested in how it's done anyway. You're what I like to call creatively curious. So without further ado:

How To Make French Fold Quilt Binding When Numerically Challenged and Highly Distractable

I absolutely love to tell people that I use only French Fold Binding on my handmade quilts. It sounds both classy and sexy at the same time. Plus, if you know quilting you know it's a durable and easy way to finish off a quilt. For quilting newbies, the binding is the fabric that encases the edges of the quilt. This is the part of the quilt that tends to wear out first (especially if it's a silky edge and you have a thumb-sucker) so it's important to use high quality fabric. I also see it as the frame of the quilt--what pulls it together and completes it visually.

To calculate (I know, I hate that word too) how much fabric I need I have found that it is best to simplify the process. We have a joke in my house: Mom's so bad a math she should get a handicapped parking permit. Here's what I do know: most fabric is 44" wide with a selvage at either edge. These selvages vary, as does my mathematical accuracy, plus I like to work with numbers that end in zero or five, so I assume I have 40" of usable fabric width. The other thing I know is that I will be cutting the fabric into 2 1/2" strips for my binding.

Now it's time to get out your measuring weapon of choice. For me, it depends on the size of the quilt, my mood, and what color I'm wearing. I either go with a tape measure or the grid on my rotary cutting mat. Do you remember the concept of perimeter from elementary school? You know, the distance around a shape...That's what you need to find out. This involves some adding, and if you're really ambitious, mulitplication. Or, you could do what I do: I know I need x number of 40" long strips...about how many do I need to cover this sucker? Again, there is a lot of rounding up or down so that I'm working with numbers ending in zero or five. For example, if I have a quilt that 52" x 70", I need 3 40" strips to cover the two 52" sides, and four 40" strips to cover the two 70" sides. That's 7 strips total. Multiple that by 2.5 (for the 2 1/2" per strip) and you need 17 1/2" of binding. I round up again to 2/3 of a yard, but this time it has nothing to do with bad math. You just never know how straight the fabric will be cut at the store, if it has a flaw you missed and have to work around, or when your ruler is going to slip while cutting the strips. It's always nice to have a little extra...

And here's a little bonus tip: When I have a little leftover fabric I go ahead and cut it into 2 1/2" strips anyway and toss them into a bin I keep for just that pupose. When I have enough strips stashed away, I make a quilt something like this:

This one was a gift to someone very dear to me, but I'm sure there will be similar ones in my future so stop by the shop and take a look around...

Don't forget to come back tomorrow when we turn this fabric into one heck of long strip of binding...


  1. I am extremely numerically challanged, always distracted, and creativly curious! You hit the nail on the head lol.

  2. My mother in law has been trying to talk me into taking a quilt class. She is worried that if/when she croaks, she will have unfinished projects and no one will know what to do (yes, she's morbid like that). This french seam business is intriguing. But I think I should figure out how to put the top together first! LOL