Welcome to the last week of the last project of How to Quilt: A Beginner’s Guide. We’re finishing the All-Border Quilt with a label and binding.
If you missed the instructions for piecing the All-Border Quilt, click here!
Scrap of light fabric for label, washed and dried
Permanent Fabric Marker
Light Iron-On Fusible such as Heat N Bond Lite or Lite Steam-a-Seam 2
Roxanne Glue-Baste-It (optional)
Freezer Paper (optional)
We’re going to start with quilt labels today, because it’s an important step in making a quilt that is too often skipped. A quilt label is akin to the artist’s signature on a painting. On a quilt, it’s typically a small piece of fabric adhered to the bottom right corner of the back of the quilt, printed (or stitched) with information pertinent to the quilt.
Quilt labels are also historically important. It’s your voice, the quiltmaker’s voice, saying “I made this” long after you’re there to say it yourself. Even if you are making the quilt to be used until it wears out, add a label, because it can mean a lot to the person using it.
My great-grandmother made quilts for her loved ones and I have one which she embroidered with her signature, the year it was made, and that she made the quilt with love for me and the date of my birth. She proudly displayed the label in a block on the front of the quilt, as a commemoration of the occasion. I know she put her love in every stitch of that quilt, but the label feels like a tangible connection to her I can look at and touch when I miss her.
What Goes on a Label?
Quilt labels usually note a few things such as:
- the name of the quilt maker(s)
- the pattern/design of the quilt
- where the quilt was made
- when the quilt was made
- who the quilt is for or what occasion it marked
Think of the Five W’s from English class: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. All of these are excellent questions to answer on a quilt label.
But that’s not all a quilt label does. It can provide valuable cleaning and care information. Read more about creating a care label by Clicking Here.
Quilt labels are also a great place to put a few words of meaning, like a quote, a poem, or a scripture.
Making a Quilt Label
Wash your scrap of light fabric in the sink with a bit of dish soap to remove any finishing product that would keep the permanent pen from marking the fabric. Dry the fabric and press flat. Trim the fabric to the size label you want, plus half an inch for seam allowances.
Decide what you’d like to write on your label and write it on a piece of paper the size and layout you want for the label. Use this as a guide for writing out the quilt label.
Cut a piece of freezer paper the exact size of the finished label. Center and press the shiny side of the freezer paper to the back of the label fabric with a warm iron.
Write your label text across the fabric using a fine tip permanent fabric marker/pen. Sometimes it works better to draw a line lightly and then go over it a second time to darken the line. Heat press the ink unless otherwise specified by marker manufacturer.
Fold the raw edges of the label over the freezer paper (to the back of the label) and set a crease with your iron. Peel off the freezer paper and use a few dots of glue to baste the raw edges to the back.
Cut a piece of light iron-on fusible the size of your label, and note that it’s better if it’s a touch smaller than a touch bigger. Iron the fusible onto the back of the label following the manufacturer’s directions. Once it’s adhered to the label, iron the label to the quilt.
Quilt labels are most commonly placed in the back bottom right corner of the quilt. Wait to place yours until after binding the quilt so there’s no risk of accidentally placing it over an area that will be sewn over in the binding process.
Read all about what other quilters think about all things quilt labels by clicking below!
From the binding fabric, cut:
(6) 2 1/2″ x Width of Fabric strips
Once the quilt is all quilted, baste around the edge of the quilt with long, low-tension stitches on your machine. Trim the excess batting and backing even to the quilt top. It’s okay to trim a little of the quilt top off to achieve a straight line.
At the corners of the quilt, mark 1/4″ from the edges, like we did when making miters. You can place a pin in the mark for later. This mark will guide us when we sew on the binding.
There are lots of types of binding, but for the All-Border Quilt we’re going to make straight-grain double-fold binding. We begin by sewing the binding strips together with diagonal seams.
Sew the six binding 2 1/2″ x WOF strips together into one long strip with diagonal seams as follows.
On a hard workspace, place a strip right side up horizontally with the tail (long ends) pointing towards your non-dominant hand. Lay another strip over the first strip at a 90-degree angle, right sides together, with the tail pointing towards you.
Place a ruler over the strips intersecting at a 45-degree angle as shown below and mark.
Pin the selvage ends and carefully fold the strip open following the marked line to check that the seam will create a long, continuous strip.
Once you’ve confirmed, replace the top strip over and secure with another pin. Sew on the marked line and trim a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Repeat until all the strips are sewn together. Press the seam allowances open.
After sewing all the strips together, fold the binding strip in half, wrong sides together and press a crease. Repeat this down the entire length of the strip.
Sewing the Binding to the Quilt and Mitered Corners
Leave yourself about an 8″ tail of binding. Place the binding over the quilt top so the raw edges of the folded binding and the raw edge of the quilt line up. Sew the binding on 1/4″ from the edge. It can be helpful to sew binding on using a walking foot to help with moving all the layers.
Start near a corner. As you sew towards the corner, look to stop on the 1/4″ mark from the edge you made earlier. Bring your needle down in the 1/4″ mark and take a few backstitches to secure the binding. Lift the foot and cut the thread.
Fold the binding back on itself so the raw edges of the binding and the quilt are even to one another. This fold creates the miter.
Hold the fold with a finger or pin, and then fold the binding back over the fold to line up over the quilt once more. Start sewing the binding on again as before.
Watch this method in action as Bonnie Browning demonstrates how to start a double-fold binding and how to sew a mitered corner.
Joining the Ends of Binding
Sew on the binding until you’re about 12″ from where you began sewing the binding on, and take a couple back stitches to secure.
Use a pair of scissors to trim one of the ends about 6″ from the seam. Replace this end over the quilt with a little sticking out from the edge so we can see the end of it easily. Now lay the other binding end on top of the trimmed binding end. Measure 2 1/2″ from the trimmed binding end to create a 2 1/2″ overlap. (That’s the width of the binding.) Mark that measurement and trim on the marked line using a pair of scissors.
Move the top binding end aside for a moment. Open the fold on the bottom binding end to see the wrong side. Fold over the corner of the end at a 45-degree angle away from you. A triangle of fabric will be right side facing up. Finger press a crease into this diagonal fold.
Lay the top binding over the diagonal fold. Match the ends of the binding together so the right side of the top binding end and the right side of the diagonal fold are facing. Pin the ends together to hold the matching edges.
Place pins across the diagonal of the binding to simulate the seam line. Refold the binding in half like the seam is already sewn. Lay the binding over the quilt to ensure the binding fits and that it isn’t twisted. Once satisfied, unfold the binding again and sew the diagonal line marked by the pins (remove the pins as you sew). Trim the seam allowance to 1/4″ and press open. Refold the binding in half and finish sewing the binding to the quilt.
Watch this technique in motion as Bonnie demonstrates how she joins binding ends and shares how she remembers the process from project.
Finishing the Binding
Roll the edge of the binding over the raw quilt edge and around to the back. Use wonder clips or pins to secure the binding in place. Working from the front stitch in the ditch along the folded binding edge. Take your time stitching in the ditch, and feel the binding on the back of the quilt as you feed it through to make sure the stitches will catch it. Once you sew around the whole quilt, check the back for any places the stitches missed the binding on the back and take that section again until all the binding is secure.
You finished the All-Border Quilt from start to finish and completed the How to Quilt series. Pat yourself on the back and snuggle up in your quilt!
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This is the last project in the How to Quilt series. We’ve gone from Four-Patch Coasters to making an entire quilt.
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