Sunday, March 26, 2017

Quilt bindings: Do you stitch the miters?

Do you stitch closed the miters on a quilt binding? 

There's no way out of it...
(unless someone else does it for you).

Either you love attaching binding or you tolerate it because it means your quilt is almost finished.

Binding: cutting binding strips and attaching them was one of the topics in the "Viewpoints and Q-points" panel discussion at the February ChattMQG meeting. There are probably as many variations for making and attaching bindings as there are quilters:
:: single fold
:: French (double) fold
:: attaching by hand and machine
:: attaching all by machine
:: with piping
:: with a faux piping or flat piping (this technique has various names such as "Magic Binding" or "Reveal Binding," etc.)
:: fused binding

... not to mention the various methods for joining the beginning and ending binding tails as well as faced bindings and other edge-finishing techniques. Whew! Quite a smorgasbord.

One detail about bindings that I posed to the panel members as well as the audience was, "Do you stitch the miters closed at the corners?" In judged quilt shows, among the many things that judges may look at is the quilt's binding. Is it straight? Is it filled to the edge with the batting? And... are the miters stitched?

How did our foremothers do it? The miters on
the corners of this vintage quilt are stitched closed.
For me, I DO stitch the miters closed (tack them down, or sew together, if you will). However, since there was such an interesting reaction to this question, I decided to ask others in the quilting community and here's what I found.

Results from the Poll:
Not many ChattMQGuild members stitched the miters closed. The reasons cited include:
  • don't think it's necessary; 
  • hadn't really considered it; 
  • don't want to take the time.
My students who took Beginning Quiltmaking with me said they do stitch the miters. (It warms my heart that they were paying attention in my class.)

Certified quilt appraiser, Holly Anderson, stitches her miters closed. She cited the following reasons, "... [stitching the miters] does have a practical purpose. It holds the corners together better and keeps things from getting caught in the binding and pulling it loose." She added this helpful tip, "You can also correct some not-so-perfect cornering with the hand stitching."

Modern quilter, Carolyn Friedlander, stitches the miters closed only on the back side of the quilt in one of her online class. When asked about the front side, she replied, "I don't stitch up the miters on the front, but you're welcome to do that if you'd like."
The corners on this antique quilt
are stitched down but are not mitered.

Three fabric representatives who are quilters each responded differently:
  • I stitch the back miters.
  • Not very often [do I stitch the miters together].
  • Nope [I don't stitch the miters].

I then contacted Cathy Neri in Quilt City USA. She is a member of the Visitors Service Team at the Paducah Convention and Visitor's Bureau. The CVB has a rotating exhibit of wall quilts made by professional quilt artists from around the world. Cathy examined the quilts in the current exhibit and relayed the practises of the artists:
  • Jenny Raymond, "Shine Down," 2006,  mitered corners, stitched front and back.
  • Marla Yeager, 1998, "Collide-a-Scope,"1998, mitered corners, stitched front and back
  • "Mariner's Compass" with no label/date/ID: mitered corners, stitched front and back.
  • Helen Marshall, "Carnival," 2006, has curved corners (no miters needed) and bias piped binding.
  • Helene Davis, "Big Blue Marble," 2007, no binding. This on is faced on all sides.
  • Linda Lasco, "Grandma's Stars" (from a Timna Tarr pattern) no date, mitered corners and stitched front and back.
  • Laura Wasilowski, fused quilt (no date, no name): fused, fold-over edges then decorative stitched.
  • Untitled work (unknown maker, no date), mitered corners but left unstitched front and back.
  • Caohagan quilt by a Polynesian artist, 2015, mitered corners stitched by hand on the back only.

And finally, Instagram friend, Tiffany Horn of @villageboundquilts posted my question to the online IG quilting community about tacking down the miters. I compiled the feedback in this pie chart.

Compiled responses from the InstaGram online quilting community
from a post by Tiffany Horn of Village Bound Quilts.
Again, the methods for attaching binding were diverse. Some quilters indicated that they chose hand or machine depending on the quilt's recipient or the quilt's use. If the binding was attached all or partially by hand, the miters were more frequently stitched together. What does this tell us?

Individual IG comments that I found interesting:
  • "... For show quilts, always blind stitch mitered binding corners closed." —@dianavanderyar
  • An interesting idea from @mamasan_gerber is to use a double needle when machine binding. "... It gives a nice front look and the zigzag back catches all, so no stray openings." 
  • "... I sew down the mitered corners when hand binding, not machine." —@prettypiney
  • "... I also sew the corners closed front and back... judges tend to like that!" —@quiltedblooms

So, there you have it... responses, insights and different approaches from various pockets of the quilting community about whether to stitch the miters closed on a quilt binding. Have you found this insightful?

Thank you. I appreciate everyone's input and help in gathering answers to this question. A few IG readers said they appreciated getting a look into other quilters' processes. We can learn things from each other all the time. I'll end with this comment from @sharon_drummond, an open-minded quilter on IG:

"... I don't stitch up the corners though I'm rethinking after reading responses." 
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