Firehall Finishing Topics

This is the spot where we are going to talk abou the ever-important details about how to finish you quilt, including binding and backing information. We'll also do a little pillow talking as well!

Hanging Sleeve:

Sew this on before the binding is added. Measure the width of the quilt and subtract two inches. Cut a 5” – 7” (double the desired width) wide strip by the length needed. Turn each end under ¼” and again another ¼” - edge stitch. Fold strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, press on fold. Centre the sleeve on the backside of the quilt, aligning upper raw edges. Pin and sew. Attach binding in usual manner. Once binding is done, hand-sew the sleeve to the back of the quilt to complete.


French fold binding is very easy to apply and adds strength to your quilt edges. Join the strips together using either the diagonal seam method or the straight seam method. Trim seam to ¼”. With wrong sides together, fold the strip in half lengthwise and press. Align the raw edges of the binding strip to one side edge of the front of the quilt and sewing through all layers, sew to ¼” of the first corner. Miter the corner by removing the quilt from under the presser foot and folding the binding strip upward, creating a diagonal fold – finger press. While holding the diagonal fold, bring the binding strip back down in line with the next edge, making a horizontal fold that aligns with the quilt edge. Start sewing again from the top edge through all the layers and continue around the quilt, mitering each corner as you come to it. Turn the binding over the raw edge of the quilt and hand stitch to the back.

Making a Pillow:

Once the pillow front is complete, layer with a muslin backing and a piece of batting that measure 1 – 1 ½” larger than the pillow front. Quilt as desired. Cut two backing pieces the same width as the pillow top and 3” smaller than the height of the front. (For Example: for a 14” pillow including the ½” for seams allowances (14 ½”) cut two pieces that measure 14 ½”x 11 ½”). Press under ¼” along one of the long edges and then press under an additional 2”. Stitch in place to complete the pillow back hem. Wrong sides together, layer and pin the two pillow back pieces to the pillow front, aligning the raw edges and overlapping the folded edges. Pin together and sew along all four edges with ¼” seam to make the pillow cover. Turn right side out and attach binding to the raw edges, mitering corners as you go.

Pieced Backing:

Trying to decide how to make the backing for larger quilts has always been difficult for me until I decided to just dive in and find a way that works for me. The best solution I have come up with is as follows:

Measure your quilt top. This is where I usually draw myself a rectangle on paper and jot down the measurements – pretend this quilt is 62” x 62”. Then I draw another rectangle in the centre of the first one and label this one as 42” at the top edge (the width of purchased fabric). If your quilt top is 62” wide you know you have 10” that you need on either side for borders PLUS 2 or 3 inches extra on either side to allow for attaching to a quilt frame or for machine quilting. So now I know that my side borders are going to be 12” wide.

Now for the top and bottom borders: This is the easy part because you can either purchase enough yardage to run the whole length of the quilt (plus 2 or 3 inches extra on both ends) or if you wanted to have equal borders all the way around you would cut your centre rectangle 42” x 42” and add on 12” borders to all four sides.

Make a backing like this also makes it easier to calculate your yardage. Assuming you are using the 42” x 42” centre rectangle you know you will need 42” for the centre rectangle and two 12” x 42” strips for the top and bottom. The sides are longer than 42” though, so you need to add 62” + 2” + 2” (for overhang) = 66” for sides. Add 66” + 66” = 132” / 42” (width of fabric) = 3.14 strips – you will need to cut 4. These will be seamed together for the side border lengths.

42” (centre) + 12” (top) + 12” (bottom) + 48” (4 side strips x 12”) = 114”.

Divide the 114” x 36” (yard) = 3.17 yards required for backing

This type of backing works wonderful if you have some matching leftover fabric that you want to incorporate into the backing or if you have some wacky print that is ONLY good for backing – this is a great place to use it up!

Instructions for this backing are meant to be a little oversized to allow for squaring up after the quilt is quilted. If you are going to machine quilt, extra border widths may be required.



© Sipiweske Quilt Designs - 2006