Finishing Quilts

By Mary Beth Krapil

Here at Handi Quilter, we are all about finishing quilts.

The whole concept of longarm machines is to make it easier and faster to creatively sew the three layers of a quilt together. Hand quilting is beautiful! It’s the way I started quilting. Let’s be honest, I’d have to live to be 300 years old to finish all the quilt tops I have complete right now, with hand quilting. And that would mean I would have to stop making quilt tops. Then what would I do with all that fabric I have?!! Let’s not go there. I needed a faster, better way and a longarm machine was the answer.

But once that quilt is quilted, it’s really not finished. The raw edges need to be finished in a way that will protect them from wear and make them look neat and tidy. There are several ways to finish the edges and the most popular is binding.

quilt by Mary Beth Krapil

Binding is a continuous strip of fabric sewn to one side (either top or backing) then turned over the edge, enclosing it, and sewn to the other side. Usually the binding strip is folded to make it a double thickness. This covers the quilt’s edges with two protective layers of fabric. The strip can be cut on the straight of grain or on the bias. Bias binding is better for edges that are curved such as a double wedding ring quilt.

GO! Double Wedding Ring quilt Accuquilt

Another alternative to binding is to use the backing fabric; bringing it over the edge to the front of the quilt and stitching it in place. This is sometimes called “hemming” or “self binding”. It is not as durable as a double fold binding, as it is a single layer of fabric. It is faster than traditional binding and it can show off your beautiful backing fabric. It’s a great option for quilts with a plush backing fabric, when binding over that thick fabric can be cumbersome. And also a quick method that works well on small projects such as this name tag.

If you want to get really fancy, you can add Prairie Points, triangular folded fabric pieces, that give the quilt edge a saw-tooth look. It’s more work, but might be just the right touch for a certain quilt.

Speaking of fancy… you can embellish your binding with piping or a flange. This is a tiny piping or folded strip of fabric sewn between the quilt and the binding on the front of the quilt. I love the look, but I do not like the work it entails. However, it’s possible to get the look, without all the work with Handi Couching Feet. Simply sew the binding to the front of the quilt while it is still on your frame. Learn how to do that from Handi Quilter Ambassador, Kim Brunner. Once the binding is on, attach the couching foot and stitch some yarn or ribbon in the ditch between the quilt and the binding! So fun!

quilt by Mary Beth Krapil

“Pillow casing” is really no binding at all. The backing is placed right sides together with the quilt top/batting and stitched all around the edge leaving an opening large enough to turn the “pillow case” right side out. The opening is usually hand stitched closed. I like this method for doll quilts and place mats. I quilt the top and batting (no backing) then apply the pillowcase method. Add a little more quilting to secure the backing to the front, if desired. Quick and Easy!

placemat by Mary Beth Krapil (designed in Art and Stitch)

There are times when you don’t want any binding to show on the front of the quilt, but you want the durability and security of an actual binding. Facing is the answer here. Facing strips are sewn to the front of the quilt and then turned to the back, rolling the seam, such that none of the facing is visible on the front of the quilt. Then the facing is hand stitched in place on the back of the quilt.

So there you have it; several ways to finish the quilt. Do you have a favorite? Do you have another unique way? Please share.

Now we have a finished quilt. Or do we? Stay tuned, next week.

By |2017-05-26T12:01:27+00:00May 26th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|5 Comments

About the Author:

Mary Beth Krapil


  1. Mary Green May 29, 2017 at 8:29 am - Reply

    I like the curved corner on the facing in the final photo. It adds a nice touch.

  2. Kathleen P. Clancy May 29, 2017 at 9:07 am - Reply

    You can get the piping look for a binding by sewing two (different widths) of fabric together for the binding. When you fold in half, the larger width fabric will rest over the seam and look like piping when sewn into place. This has been a fun technique for baby quilts that have flannel backing, I use the flannel as wider strip and regular cotton as border on front. It’s nice, soft detail to front of quilt.

  3. LindieLee February 2, 2018 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    I would like to see a tutorial on the curved binding in the last photo – how did you do that?

    • Mary Beth Krapil
      Mary Beth Krapil February 2, 2018 at 3:03 pm - Reply

      Thank you. It’s really as simple as cutting a curved facing piece rather than a straight facing piece. Maybe we can put together a little tutorial in the future.

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