This week I'm making some skinny binding to use in a special project with the paper pieced sewing machine. There are some fun paper pieced projects out there, but the ways you might traditionally use the finished pieces are not really my style. I like my wall hangings to be a bit more abstract and weird, my pillows basic patchwork or mostly solid, and my tote bags on the plain side.
But I've been thinking about other ways to incorporate paper piecing into projects and have an idea for the sewing machine. I think it is going to be both cute and useful! When it's done I'll share what I've made.
In the meantime, I have a trick for sewing binding together, and thought you might like to know about it too.
I enjoy the process of cutting, sewing and pressing binding. Which is sort of funny because unless I'm binding something large/squarish (mostly quilts) projects requiring bound edges are not my favorite. If I see a pattern for something small with bound edges, it kills my interest. It just takes too much time and is really hard to do well.
But binding most definitely has a place in sewing, and even though the process of joining the strips is easy, I've had my share of sewing misadventures when stitching the pieces together.
So here is my trick for joining the strips together perfectly (i.e. straight).
The usual way I see binding strips being joined is to match the edges of each piece at a 90 degree angle, and then sew them together on the diagonal:
The problem with this is it can be hard to get off to a smooth start when sewing the seam because there isn't a lot of stability with just the two layers of fabric. Most of the time I get at least a small nest of tangled thread at the start and the end. Starching the strips can help, but starch is always a last resort for me.
Then if you don't sew just PERFECTLY to the bottom intersection where the pieces meet, the strips end up uneven. Either the sides where they join are uneven, or the strips are not attached in one straight, continuous piece.
In the past, when I used this method to sew binding I'd match the edges, look underneath to make sure I knew exactly where the seam needed to end, pin the pieces well, mark the seam, etc. And still I'd end up with wacky strips!
What I do now is super simple...Instead of matching the edges I overlap them a bit like this:
Having those extra bits of fabric along the sides gives stability and makes it a lot easier to start and end the seam. Then I can also see exactly where the seam must end to have the strips joined perfectly.
Once it is time to sew, it is really easy to just line the pieces up straight and sew straight down to the corner:
The pieces are in pinned in the photos here, but usually I don't pin them. The pins were really to remind myself to take pictures, and I forgot to take them out. You can of course pin if you need some extra stability. More and more, I'm trying to skip pins for the sake of efficiency.
So next time you are joining fabric strips, give this a try. There is no marking, no pinning, and they turn out perfect!