It happened again yesterday. I hate it when I have “not quite enough” binding. Oh, I don’t mean having 1/4 yard when you need 1/2. I mean, when you need 18 inches and have 17 1/2. Who wants to go out and buy a fat quarter just for that? And then you have most of a fat quarter left. More in your stash.
Well, my friends, I have been cheating. Now mind you, this doesn’t happen often, but I have found a way around it that makes me happy and makes the quilt finished. I simply use skinnier strips. I don’t mean make the binding 2 inches–because then it just looks wrong. No, I use skinnier strips and supplement with muslin. Here’s how:
1. How short are you? I needed 6 width of fabric strips @ 2 1/4 inch each. That is 13 1/2 inches. I have 12 3/4. I am short 3/4 inches.
2. What wiggle room do I have? I have developed a formula. Your absolute minimum “skinny” strip size is one half of your strip width (I use 2 1/4 inch strips, so one half is 1 1/8) PLUS 1/2 inch. So my minimum skinny strip is 1 5/8 inches. The wiggle room is the difference between my desired strip width (2 1/4 inches) and my minimum (1 5/8 inches). So I have wiggle room of 7/8 inches.
3. Do I have enough wiggle room to absorb the shortage? In this case, I have 7/8 inch wiggle room and need 3/4 inches–I have enough. Just to be safe, however, I’ll spread my wiggle room over two strips. Note: I never use more than two strips. If I am shorter than that, I release the fabric back to my stash and look for Plan B.
4. Cut your strips as usual–to a point. As I said, I like to make my binding 2 1/4 inches. So I cut the first 4 strips at 2 1/4 inches as usual.
That leaves me 3 3/4 inches for the last two strips. Cut the next strip about 1 7/8. The last strip should be about 1 7/8, but may have a little wave edge.
5. Cut 2 inch strips of muslin for supplement. I use muslin, because it is a little lighter weight.
6. How do you attach your binding? I attach mine from the front, working clockwise. Make note of this.
7. Attach the muslin cheater strips. Lay your skinny binding on top of the muslin. Overlap about 1/2 inch. Just eyeball it. Then sew right on top about 1/4 of an inch or less from the edge. Now trim the width of your binding (+ muslin) strip down to your desired binding strip width, so you have a very narrow muslin strip. If you overlap too much, you may want to trim off the extra muslin so you don’t get a fat spot in your binding.
8. Start attaching your quilt binding. Normally I sew all my strips together. I do not sew my cheater binding together though, I wait until I run out to attach it for two reasons: A. I need to make sure the orientation is correct so the cheater strip won’t show and B: If the binding strip is too long, I want to whack off the cheater strip instead of a good strip. The less of it I use, the better.
9. Sew on your cheater strips and attach binding as usual. As I said, I attach my binding clockwise, so when I sew the binding strips together, I make sure that the muslin strip is on the right. This is something that takes a little practice. Make sure that the muslin strip is up when you sew the binding on, so it will be inside the binding, and that the sewing line stitching your skinny strip to the cheater strip will also be inside the fold.
Unless you overlap way too much or use a heavier weight fabric than muslin, most likely no one will ever know. I did this on one quilt where I had about a 9 inch long piece of binding that was 1/4″ too narrow. I entered it in a show to be judged, and the judge commented what a beautiful job I did on my binding. With the muslin being a little lighter weight, the overlap doesn’t bulk up anymore than a double layer of your binding fabric.
Keep on sewing!