In a bind…a ‘Zig-Zag’ bind

zigzag-SusanI’ve been working on a quilt for a very special person (I won’t name her, on the off-chance that she stumbles upon this blog). It’s taken me almost a year to make this quilt: Finding the perfect pattern, gathering all the fabric scraps, and arranging to have it quilted.

No, I don’t quilt my own pieces. Yes, I AM that quilter, the one who prefers to design and piece but hates the tedium of the actual quilting.

Thank goodness for the lovely ladies at the Cloth Peddler quilt shop in Stephens City, Va. They have a longarm quilting machine and do GREAT work, fast — and at reasonable prices.

But even with their help, I still have to bind my quilts, another incredibly tedious process. I’ve bound them by hand, and I’ve stitched in the ditch to machine bind them. They are still a pain. And since, despite nearly three decades of sewing experience I still can’t sew a straight line, it takes me almost as long to machine bind because I keep having to rip out and resew crooked stitching lines.

A couple of months ago, I was killing time on Pinterest waiting for a conference call to begin when I stumbled upon the perfect solution for my binding challenges: the Zig-Zag binding.

Zig-Zag binding

(c) Stitched in Color

Rachel from Stitched in Color has developed this binding technique, custom-made for quilters like me.

She has a great tutorial on her site, which walks the reader, step-by-step, through this technique for creating a clean, somewhat modern look for the binding. Better still, the tutorial starts from the very beginning, so less-experienced quilters can follow it too.

I’ll confess I was eager to try this technique. My latest quilt was the perfect test project since it is an extra-long Twin sized quilt with LOTS edge space for binding.

So after deciding on the binding fabric and finding some matching thread, I decided to give it a try.

The good news is that, when done well, the binding is really quite attractive.

The bad news is that, when done poorly and with contrasting thread, it’s a bit of a mess:

I see some ripping and restitching in my near future

I see some ripping and restitching in my near future

It wasn’t so bad in some places, but in others…

My first indication that I should have read the instructions more closely

My first indication that I should have read the instructions more closely

So where did I go wrong? (After all, the point of this blog is to focus on learnings, right?)

Looking back, I realized that there was one section of the instructions, well before the zig-zagging, that gave me some trouble. It was the part where Rachel was explaining how to join the “tails” from the binding when attaching it to the quilt. For some reason, I could NOT get it right and kept coming up with this Mobius strip of fabric.  I got pretty frustrated, almost to the point of tears, which is never a good thing when quilting.

A friend of mine has a phrase she uses, “Quilt until angry.” I was there. So I took a break to clear my head.

And here’s where I went wrong: When I got back to my sewing machine and dove back into the binding process, I didn’t read the instructions all the way through. So instead of stitching from the top of the quilt (which would have allowed me to make adjustments as I worked my way around the quilt), I stitched from the back. Doh!

My seam ripper will be getting quite a workout in the coming week. But I have no doubt that, once I master this new technique, I’ll lose my aversion to binding and may actually finish that stack of quilts I have waiting in my sewing room.



  1. Good ol’ seam rippers… I go through them like jars of peanut butter. 😀
    I still say, nice job, though. And, I read your post all the way through.

    1. Thanks, seapunk! I will be doing some serious ripping this weekend…

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