I might rightfully have titled this post “Diamond Quilt Progress: Post Thirteen” because everything I am reporting today is about things I did to bring about the eventual completion of that quilt. However, in doing those things I created a totally new object specifically to gain practice in a technique of binding. That technique is unfamiliar to me, and I actually fear it. The technique is binding angles other than 90 degrees with bias strips. I’ll admit it. I have a severe fear of binding. My fear is so deep that I could not consider using this technique on my queen sized quilt without first having tried it on a smaller piece. In order to do that I made a dining room table runner, which turned into quite a large piece. I have a tendency to make a big deal out of my samples. The table runner will have it’s own post soon to describe the construction process. Here I will address only the binding. After completing the quilting on the runner I decided to dive into the work on the binding. My initial impulse was to add small pieces to the edge to finish it off with straight edges allowing me to add a traditional type of folded bias binding. I would turn corners as necessary. The paper pieces in the photograph below represent the pieces I intended to add.
I actually made and added a few of the smaller pieces before deciding that this was too laborious and tedious for EVEN ME. I don’t mind spending the time, but it was very frustrating work, and it was almost impossible to match up the narrow corners of the smaller diamond pieces with the corners of the existing hexagon pieces on the table runner. Perhaps if the hexagons were much larger it might have been a different story. However, given the one inch hexagons I was using, I had to admit defeat. If adding pieces wasn’t the right way to proceed, then perhaps taking pieces away might work better. By taking them away I mean folding them under the edge. I folded under the short triangular projections of the hexagons along the edge, pressing them into place, and pinning them down.
I then sewed the projections down so they would not pop out of place as I was adding the binding strips. This entire process was laborious. It also added a good deal of extra fabric to the binding, which made it difficult to pull the binding far enough to hide the sewing line on the reverse side, but I managed to handle it.
After completing the binding I decided that a slightly different method might prove less time consuming. I was also seeking to maintain the integrity of the double hexagon border on the Diamond Quilt. The method I had used on the table runner lost a bit of a row of hexagons that I considered to be important to the border. What I have decided to do for the Diamond Quilt is to add an additional row of half hexagons around the edge. This will create a straight border which will add only the extra fabric of the edge of the half hexagon to the binding. Being as obsessive as I am about the binding on the Diamond Quilt, I am going to create another table runner that will be finished off with a border of half hexagons. I’m planning to complete that project before I start adding the half hexagons to the Diamond Quilt.
My fear of binding goes back to the beginning of my work with hexagons about a year ago. I became aware that all of the quilts I had created during my First Act In Fibers had been bound incorrectly. I had simply hemmed them. That is how I learned how to finish my quilts. It was what was recommended in “The Perfect Patchwork Primer”, the only book I had at the time. I always made sure I had enough of the quilt top to turn to the back and hem. I hemmed my quilts with a blind stitch, and they turned out fairly well, but I had never learned how to do a proper binding.
Looking at my grandmother’s quilts I saw that she had never mitered her corners on her bindings, nor had she ever used bias strips. She did, however, use straight grain binding strips, and she overlapped them at the corners and sewed them neatly into place. It was possible for me to avoid the issue of using binding strips altogether for a short period of time by creating a method of binding using hexagons, as illustrated below. I knew, however, that this was not a sturdy binding method to be used on pieces requiring heavy use, such as bed covers.
Last summer I was making some panels to hang downstairs to keep air conditioning limited to the living room and the dining room. I knew that I was going to have to bind those items with a straight edge, and it simply made sense to learn how to do a proper bias binding while I was at it. I signed up for a workshop in binding at the Pennington Quilt Works and took copious notes. I seemed to have missed some of the finer points, however, because my corners proved to be less than satisfactory, and I was more afraid of binding than ever. If I could not create a passable corner with two teachers hovering over me, what hope was there? I went on to do some research on the web, watched some tutorials, and I got better at doing a 90 degree angle.
When it came time to apply the binding to the front of this table runner, however, I went back to the web and found some good tutorials on Jaybird Quilts. These tutorials involved angles other than 90 degrees and gave me the confidence to do the unusual angles in my table runner. In spite of that, I will admit to being quite anxious about the applying the binding until I was able to get the piece off the machine and see that it was going to turn attractively to the opposite side. I was especially worried about the ends of the piece, which had severe angles. Below I’ve provided some photographs of the table runner. I took it outdoors to get the best light. There is a colorful growth of tiny flowers along the driveway, which I took advantage of as a backdrop in the last few photographs.