Now that the binding is attached to the quilt by machine, we can sew the folded edge of the binding to the back of the quilt by hand.
Of course, some quilters prefer to use the machine for this last step, but I think it’s nice to slow things down a bit with needle and thread in hand. You’ll need a sewing needle–sharps, size 8, 9 or 10, thread to match the color of the binding fabric, thread snips, a thimble if you wear one, and clips or pins to hold the binding in place while you sew.
Thread the needle and make a knot at the end. Insert the thread through the layers at the edge of the quilt, under the sewn binding. Pull the thread up to the back of the quilt, and just barely grab the folded edge of the binding–one or two threads of the fold, that’s it. Pull the thread through.
Insert the needle into the backing just a little bit behind the thread exit point, then travel through the batting layer about 3/8″ or less. Come up through the backing and grab the binding fold again. This is a slip stitch. Continue stitching along the straight edge of the quilt, removing clips as you sew, and placing them further around the binding, so you’re continuously sewing and prepping the next steps.
Keep repeating the slip stitch along the straight edge of the quilt, until you approach the corner. When you reach the corner. Stop and ‘park’ the needle in the quilt. At the corner, fold the right side over the left side forming a miter in the binding on the back of the quilt at the corner.
Fold the right edge over the left edge . .
Continue slip-stitching to the corner . . .
. . . then take a stitch or two along the diagonal toward the outer edge of the quilt.
Then take a stitch from back to the front (or front to back, depending on your perspective!), catching the mitered flap on both sides. This will help to keep the binding square over time.
Pull the thread from the front to the back, again . . .
Take a peek at the front to admire your work! If all goes according to plan. The binding bulk at the corner will be evenly distributed front-to-back.
Once you’ve made it all the way around the quilt, tie off and bury the thread end.
Before calling the project ‘done,’ make a label. The label can be elaborate or simple – a scrap of fabric from the quilt top will do. The point is to record the important stuff on a label that will follow the quilt where ever it goes!
With a permanent fabric marker, write the name of the quilt, the pattern, your name as the maker and the date on the fabric label. If the quilt is a gift or for a special occasion, add that also. Consider adding washing instructions or the city where it was made, too. Tell the quilt’s story. Slip stitch the label to the back of the quilt.
It’s also a good idea to take a picture of the finished quilt so you have a record of the projects you’ve finished. Quilts tend to move on from their original maker and it’s sometimes nice to look back and remember the quilts you’ve made.
And the best part of making a quilt is enjoying it–while you are planning the next one!