You'll hear all sorts of myths related to quilt construction... let's talk about five.
Quilting Myth #1: Binding Should Always Be Made From Bias Strips
Bias binding strips are indeed one choice when it's time to make binding for a quilt, but they aren't always a necessary choice.
- Bias binding strips are stretchy, making them a cinch to sew (neatly) around quilts with curved edges, but bias strips aren't required for straight-edged quilts.
- The threads in bias strips will end up running at an angle to the quilt itself -- if a thread in a strip eventually becomes weak and breaks, it will break around its own small portion of the binding, not all the way down the side of the quilt.
Crosswise Binding Strips
- Strips cut along the crosswise grain of fabric are a bit stretchy, too, and when cut, the grain is typically not completely straight -- a weakened thread will rarely cause a repair problem down the entire side of a quilt.
- Crosswise grain strips are more simple to make, and often (depending on available yardage) have fewer (bulky) connecting seams across their width, resulting in a neat, flat binding.
- Crosswise thread binding is a perfect choice for most quilts.
You should indeed avoid lengthwise grain binding strips. They have less stretch than crosswise strips, and their threads are more likely to run down a strip for a long distance -- a weak thread can make it necessary to repair binding on a longer portion of the quilt.
Use my tutorial to learn how to make crosswise binding strips and bias binding strips.
Quilting Myth #2: While We're Talking About Binding
One of my biggest binding pet peeves concerns the binding instructions that many quilting authors have traditionally written. I've cautioned quilters on this since I began writing quilting books in the 1990s, but still see incorrect instructions everywhere.
The Real DealWhen preparing to miter binding at the corner of a quilt, the point where you should stop and backstitch must be a distance equal to the finished width of the binding.
Nearly all patterns tell you to stop 1/4" away from the quilt's edge. That's correct if you are sewing a 1/4" finished width binding, and that width is a must if quilt blocks surround the outer edges of the quilt, since they have a built-in 1/4" seam.
What if you have a border, where the width of binding is arbitrary? I've made lots of miniature quilts with 1/8" bindings, and larger quilts with 1/2" bindings. Try stopping 1/4" from the edge of those quilts and you'll end up with a messy (if not impossible to construct) mitered corner. Stop sewing at the point that matches your finished binding width and the miter will create itself, almost automatically.
Read more in my mitered binding instructions.
Quilting Myth #3: Seam Allowances Must Be Pressed to the Side
I do usually press seam allowances to one side when I'm constructing patchwork, because that method helps enhance accuracy when units, rows and the entire quilt are assembled. When seam allowances in adjoining units are pressed in opposite directions, the loft (or height) each allowance creates helps you butt intersections together for a perfect match.
sometimes you'll find that pressing seams to the side creates too much bulk, especially if lots of seams meet in a given spot of your patchwork. When that happens, don't be afraid to press seams open.
We've always been told that pressing seam allowances to one side strengthens a block or quilt, but I personally do not believe that is true. Some will disagree, but I know many quilters who press open all the time with great success.
Match-up Tip: When adjoining units with pressed-open seams, align edges and stab a straight pin through both narrow channels where each seam should meet and secure. Leave the pin in place until the needle reaches that spot, remove the needle and keep sewing. Your seams should be perfectly matched.
Quilting Myth #4: Only Seniors Make Quilts
I hope this old myth (or maybe it's a perception) is finally dead and buried. Some of the most talented quilters out there are young people in their 20s and 30s (and younger) proving that there's absolutely no 'age requirement' to become a successful quilter. Browse the Web and you'll find thousands upon thousands of young people turning their visions into quilts. I'll link to just a few:
- Young Quilters Share their Art at Sisters Quilt Show
- Gallery of Quilts Made by Quilters Under 16 Years Old
- Emma, at Sampaquita quilts
- Lotte, from the Netherlands
- Leah Day -- her book 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs, is for inspiration, not a step by step tutorial.
Quilting Myth #5: An Expensive Sewing Machine is a Must
It's true that sewing machines with every option available may help you piece and quilt with ease, but an expensive sewing machine is not a must. Many quilters sew patchwork on their vintage Featherweight sewing machines, and I know a few who love to sew on a treadle machine.
If you plan to machine quilt, do plan to buy a machine that either comes with a walking foot or can be fitted with a generic version made by an accessories manufacturer. Go for a more expensive machine later if you find that you love to make quilts (and your budget is okay with the purchase).
More: Hundreds of quilters have shared the pros and cons of their sewing machines.