Starting to bind my quilt

My husband is flying down to Cape Town for a course, so I thought he could take the quilt with him for the first leg of the journey to New Zealand, instead of the risky business of posting it. So instead of working om my shirt, I started making the binding (I am usually a terrible procrastinator).

I started with 3" strips cut across the grain and trimmed to 45-degree angles at the ends. I follow the directions given by Nancy Srebro Johnson in her book Rotary Magic when binding quilts. This was one of the first "modern" quilt books I read, and it has very detailed directions on quiltmaking and especially rotary cutting. Perfect for the beginner quilter, and I refer back to it again and again. It is also loaded with tips and hints (I love that kind of book). There are also many tutorials on the web: here is a link to one that looks straightforward (although I don't do the joining of beginning and end like that).

3" strips with ends cut at 45 degrees and 3/8" tip cut off
Once I have sewn all the strips together to make one looooong continuous strip, I press the seams open to reduce bulk (same principle as in making lingerie!), then fold the whole thing in half lengthwise and press.
 Double-fold binding ready for applying to the quilt

This time, I am trying a new technique. Following machine quilter supreme Diane Gaudynski's method, I blocked the quilt after quilting by spraying it with water and flattening it to dry on a large plastic-backed picnic blanket. Instead of trimming the extra batting and backing before binding, I have marked the final cutting line right around the quilt perimeter. I did it first with water-soluble blue pen (in case I made a mistake), and will go over this line with a thin permanent pen line tomorrow when the light is good. The idea is then to align the edge of the binding with the line, sew it on, and trim the extra fabric/batting off after sewing. Diane describes the process in her book Guide to Machine Quilting - a great book if you want to learn to do beautiful machine quilting. (I have to add here that Diane advocates using binding cut on the bias, but I am too much of a miser. And Diane now has a blog - here is the link.)

Cutting line marked on quilt with blue marker
You can also see that I was terribly miserly when cutting the batting for the quilt - it does not even show at the edge of the quilt top. The reason for this is that I originally designed the quilt to be smaller, but I ended up adding wider borders and I didn't have enough cotton batting left. I actually had to piece the batting to make a rectangle that was just big enough for the quilt. (I can't buy this batting locally and bought it online from the UK a few years ago; this was my last piece.)
I had to stop tonight because .... I found out that my strip of binding is about 30 cm (12") too short! I will have to make a quick trip to Nikki Mommen's excellent quilt fabric shop and buy a 4"-wide strip before I can finish the quilt. Thank goodness I always measure before I start sewing!
I leave you with this final picture of my sewing table. Am I the only person whose table looks like this while I'm working or do others also find it impossible to keep chaos at bay? I just seem to need so much stuff while I'm working.
The creative process....


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