Give Up a Step

A question for you – If you could somehow get someone to do ONE step of the quilting process for you, what would it be?   Don’t say quilting because it’s pretty common to have the quilting done by someone else.

Steps that come to mind are:

  • Choosing fabrics/patterns
  • Cutting
  • Sewing (but I guess if it’s the sewing . . my next question would be why are you quilting?)
  • Pressing
  • Adding Borders
  • Binding

Don’t be limited by those steps though . . if you think of something else, add it.

My least favorite part is pressing.


Here’s my pile of pieced border strips waiting to be pressed.  I wonder why I dislike the pressing part so much.  Maybe because I like the sewing parts much more and would rather be sewing than pressing.  When adding borders, especially when there are 7 or 8 of them, I sometimes think I could just add them all and not press after adding the 2 sides of one border; and then press again after adding the top and bottom of one border.  With 8 borders, that’s at least 16 times to have to get up and press.

Looking at my sewing area . . I see a mess. Stuff on the ironing board.  The trash can gets tangled up in my fabric and if it’s halfway full, threads and fabric crumbs from the trash attach themselves to my fabric.


It’s time for a good cleaning in the sewing room . . just not today!



  1. 1


    The step I’d like to give up is trimming/squareing units. My piecing (or cutting) is not quilte accurate enough to cut the 7/8 and 5/16 sizes and have the blocks come out the right size, so I do a lot of “make it big and trim it down”. But the trimming really gets on my nerves. With the help of my “quilting Judys” (You and Judy Martin) I am working on improving my cutting and piecing skills to be more accurate. That’s why my stars BOM is so far behind!

  2. 2


    I detest binding. I figure after it’s been quitled, either by me or someone else, it should be DONE! I have a few right now that have been done for months that need binding.

  3. 3


    Definitely borders. I hate doing them, but it seems like every quilt I make has at least 57 on each one. Obviously I like the look of them! LOL Oh, and squaring the quilt top before borders and before binding. I don’t have enough room here to do it properly.

  4. 4


    Funny you should ask –

    My least favorite part would be the binding – especially when I used to think I had to sew the back down by hand. It is not nearly as bad when you do it all by machine!

    This morning I was sewing on some charity blocks for our guild and tried to talk my 8-year old son Ian into ironing them for me. Just press the seam towards the dark square. He stuck at it much longer than I expected – about 5 minutes. I did have to re-iron a few – but maybe if he keeps practicing!

    Have a great day!

    • 4.1

      lesthook says

      Pinning the sandwich together. But mainly because my knees won’t allow me to crawl around on the floor. Smaller ones I can do on the table.. It used to be binding but I think I finally got the hang of that .

  5. 5

    Donna in KS says

    least favorite, binding; but then when I was doing apparel sewing, it was tacking facings and hemming that I disliked. And binding is akin!! As to pressing, I have seen too many people screw things up by the way THEY press…, thank you, I’ll definitely do that myself! I must admit that binding has become less of a “job” for me since I now put the bulk of the quilt on a table and bind in front of the TV, rather than having it spill down lap, legs and to the floor……hot and heavy. Psycho babble…perhaps I just hate to see a project come to and end. Your questions, your discussion and other comments are always interesting, Judy! Thanks, again.

    • 5.1

      Donna in KS says

      that should be that I will do my own pressing, not screw up! Also, I use the hair clip things to hold my bindings. That was a stroke of genius, whoever came up with the idea.

  6. 6

    Julie H. says

    Trimming the smaller units, followed closely by cutting out the whole quilt. I love to sew, love to bind, love to pick fabric, borders are fine, pressing is fine, it’s just that time consuming trimming that always slows me down. I have three nearly finished quilts on my cutting table awaiting the trimming of pieced border blocks.

    What did you end up with for an iron?

  7. 7

    Rona says

    Choosing fabrics. Kits are my friend. All of the hard decisions are done at that point.

  8. 8

    becky says

    Basting!!! even when i use spray basting stuff i still hate that step. I’ve got 3 king size that waiting for me to find a big enough floor. And crawling around on the floor is no fun either!

  9. 9


    Binding is my nemisis. I really love sewing and quilting, am okay with pressing, love picking out and cutting fabric. But binding?? I don’t like handwork in general, so perhaps that’s why I don’t like binding. I try to put my bindings on with my LA, that helps, but I still have to hand stitch the other side!!

  10. 10

    Melanie says

    I would agree with binding. I have several quilts that are quilted and not bound that we use anyway.

  11. 11

    Richelle Robinson says

    I am surprised at the amount of people who dislike the binding process, that is my absolute favorite. I could do without cutting the fabric out. I find it tedious and boring, not to mention I might cut it out wrong and then not have enough of a fabric. I need to find someone close who likes to cut the fabric out and I will do their bindings.

  12. 12


    My least favorite is definitely the cutting. That is why I like to use layer cakes and charm squares as much as possible. Love the new quilt.

  13. 14


    There is a tie for my least favorite! Pressing and cutting are definitely the worst part of quilting for me. If I had someone to cut and a pressing princess at my house there would be many more quilts done.

  14. 15


    Picking Fabrics is very tough for me, just posted a little bit about my struggle with it! I love kits but I also want to work from the stash!

  15. 16


    I don’t like putting on borders.

    Judy, I have a question for you. Do you measure your tops and cut the borders to size or do you just sew a length of border and trim it off?

  16. 17


    Cutting….If I could pick out the fabric, leave it at the quilt store for them to cut and then just send it to me…
    I love all the other aspects of the quilting process, including hand sewing the binding, which is actually my favorite part…

  17. 18

    Cynthia H., El Cerrito, CA says

    I know that a lot of quilters just *detest* doing bindings. That’s why I began a small, informal “binding” business a couple of years ago…

    Pressing can be tiresome, but I’m a nut for having it done “right” ….

    But if I could give one part away forever, it would be sleeves and labels. OMG. Making the sleeve is OK, but hand-stitching the three sides that aren’t enclosed in the binding is a real pain.

    And don’t even get me started on labels…I can’t use the computer printed ones b/c of chemical sensitivity. I have to hand-print them on fabric which is reinforced with freezer paper and then APPLIQUE them to the quilt back (where they aren’t enclosed in the binding).

    So…sleeves and labels. Ugh.

  18. 19


    Boarders and Binding… that is the two I dislike the most. However I did recently take a clas son how to do the binding by machine and I know I will be using that option a lot in th efuture esp. on quilts I know that will be used and washed often 😉 so maybe I will come around to enjoy the binding part after all. 😉

    and Judy – we really should get together and quilt sometime b/c I LOVE PRESSING!! really! 🙂 I couild stand and press all day quilt pieces that is – if it’s laundry then uham, no not so much 😉

    Love from Texas! ~bonnie

  19. 21

    Cheryl L says

    Well, I guess I have two steps I’d like to skip. One is the cutting. That step can be especially bad if I miscut and have to try to get more fabric—triple that dislike factor if I’ve had the fabric for a LONG time! The other step I dislike is borders, especially if the quilt is a big one and applying those borders is like wrestling an elephant! It’s interesting to read everyone’s thoughts.

  20. 22


    Pressing is my least favorite process, I confess to skipping this step a lot, most of the time when the top is almost finished and almost always on the borders. I figure it will be taken care of when stretching it for basting!.

  21. 23


    I am with Julie H………I hate having to trim off the “rabbit-ears” and square up blocks……and I’m not super-thrilled about the initial cutting of the fabric, either. Having to do the quilt “sandwich” can sometimes be very hard on the back and legs if I have to put the piece on the floor and crawl around to do it. I know you said we can’t say the quilting is what we’d want someone else to do, but that IS a big wish for me. I can’t seem to do a good job of it on my regular machine…… not able to get a long-arm or even a mid-arm machine for myself….and can rarely afford to have the quilting done for me. SO…….not being able to get the quilting done has stopped me from making a lot of quilts I’d otherwise have made, but I won’t make them as I have no way of getting them quilted. I guess, for me, the things I DO like about quilting are: choosing the fabric and pattern, sewing the pieces together to make the quilt top and pressing well as I go along, and doing the binding. The rest isn’t so great for me…..LOL

  22. 24


    My part I like the least is choosing the fabric…..I keep second guessing myself…..I have so many sample blocks made trying to make sure I have the right combination. I wish I could hire a “personal fabric shopper”….my life would be so much simpler.

    Karen L

  23. 25

    Diane says

    I LOVE to press, pick fabric and cut it out, but HATE binding. I want to sometime get a group of my friends together to sew and have us sew in the buddy system. You get paired with the gal who hates what you like and vice versa.
    I have a friend who loves to bind so I usually give her my quilt and she will have it back to me in about a day or two and I give her a couple of fat quarters or so and we are both happy.

  24. 26

    Debbi says

    Pinning. Maybe you’d consider that a part of “sewing”, I don’t know. But I really hate pinning long rows of blocks (especially) together before sewing them. I love making all the different pieces and blocks of a quilt, but when it comes time to put them all together with pins to prepare to sew them – yuk.

  25. 27


    When I first read your question, the first thing that came to mind is PINNING, but then I realized you weren’t talking longarm, but quilting in general. That would be pressing. I really enjoy all of quilting, even cutting and borders and binding. Actually, if I could get someone to clean up after me, that would be fabulous! My DH already does all the vacuuming, so it wouldn’t be too bad, if anyone wants to volunteer…

  26. 28

    Kristie says

    Definitely dislike cutting out the fabrics the most…. When I went to a retreat a few years ago, one of the women there mentioned paying someone $10 to cut out all of the patches from a kit – just $10!!! If I had someone like that around me, there’s no telling how many quilts I could get done! LOL

  27. 31


    I don’t know if I’d be willing to give up control of one piece of the process. Fortunately, I enjoy most of the process of making a quilt, so this is not an issue.

  28. 32

    Rose H says

    I would have to say cutting is least favorite because by the time I pick out my fabrics I dislike the time it takes to cut the strips/pieces–I am just anxious to start sewing. I enjoy pressing, because I really like seeing how nice the pieces/strips lay after they have been pressed. Currently working on a Trudie Hughes quilt from one of her books and she gives directions on how the blocks/rows need to be pressed. It is so nice to have all the rows/blocks fit together without stressing over it. Pressing might be more enjoyable for most quilters if the instructions were given in pattern on direction of pressing.

  29. 33


    I love to choose the fabrics and cut out the pattern. Binding is awful work for me and I try to farm it out by bartering quilting or something like that. I do enjoy almost all the rest of the processes. I’m not always real fond of sashing assembly but it usually depends on the quilt.

  30. 36


    choosing fabrics is always hard for me. I need 8 fabrics for an up coming quilt, and the first five or six I pick myself, easy peasy. But I know I will need the quilt shop ladies help to fill in those last two or three choices. Fortunately they don’t seem to mind!

  31. 37


    No doubt, my least favorite part is pinning together/basting the quilt sandwich! I’m notorious for letting 5 and 6 quilt tops pile up because I so dread the next step of pinning the sandwich.

  32. 38


    My #1 hated task is sewing on the label. I don’t know why but I postpone that forever. Sometimes binding is a chore but I do it willingly because it will mean the quilt is done…..except for the damned label. I think I hate the label because the quilt is done without it and it feels like an extra unnecessary step. Every other part of the process is wonderful. I love it all!

  33. 39

    Kerri says


    I love them, but dread the needed measuring and squaring to have them lay nicely!

  34. 40


    When I want a quilt handquilted I give it to my mother, but I sometimes can get her to do the handsewing on the binding too. That is the one thing I hate most.

  35. 41


    Pinning. I absolutely hate it when I need to pin blocks together or pin rows of blocks. Usually I’ll try to get away with fudging and hoping for the best. I don’t trim my blocks, so I’m not in a position to hate that step. I just fudge a lot. 🙂 Same thing for borders. I just sew them on and trim off the ends, no measuring for me. I really hate pinning!

    Cutting started going a lot better once I adjusted my table to a proper height.

    I love bindings. They’re relaxing and give me time to bond with the quilt. I never have any bindings waiting for me! I wonder if I’d make any money offering to sew down bindings for 10 cents an inch? A twin quilt could net me around $30.

    Quilting would be easier if I had more throat space.

  36. 42


    Trimming and squaring up blocks followed by pressing a larger quilt.

    Funny, I don’t mind pressing when the project is small, but once it gets larger, then it is harder to do a good pressing job.

  37. 43

    CarolE/UP says

    I love love love ALMOST every step of the way — but when it’s time to sew the rows together, I start procrastinating.

  38. 45


    It’s a toss-up for me. I hate cutting out, and I hate (equally) basting the sandwich. LOL! I love the sewing, love the pressing (except when it’s over 100° here) as I see things looking as they should, and I even like the binding part. It takes me a long time to figure out how I want to quilt a piece, but I really *really* enjoy that part, too.

  39. 46


    Definitely BORDERS. When I get all the (usually scrappy) blocks together I have a mental glitch in figuring out what fabrics for the borders. I make a mess in the sewing room pulling out fabrics to audition. I still can’t make up my mind. I finally decide on a narrow inner border. Have to grit my teeth to measure top for them and cut them–then the PINNING to kept them square! Aargh! And I still have to decide and find the fabric for the wide border!
    YIKES! This is where everything slows down to a stop for me.

    When the borders are finally on, I have no trouble doing the binding (machine sewn on both sides) and label because I want the whole thing done and useable.

  40. 47


    I like every part of quilting except cleaning up the mess after I’m done, esp when I do free piecing with lots of little scraps.

  41. 48


    i hate measuring the quilt top for borders. I don’t mind sewing them on. I just don’t like to measure the top. I love pressing. Wish we lived closer. We could trade services.

    Rusty said to tell Speak hello 🙂

    Take care,

  42. 49


    Well for me, I absolutely hate cutting, and I even have a studio cutter from accu cut where all you need to do is crank a handle and on the other end of the machine is your cut pieces! I just detest it, I am the king of buying precut stuff. I also hate setting blocks together. I have boxes of blocks ready to set, but I just hate those long seams, reminds of making drapes.

  43. 50


    If I didn’t have to put another border on, I’d be tickled. Making sure it lays flat and doesn’t ripple is always a headache for me.

  44. 51


    I hate to work with borders. But hey, I love to cut things out! Nothing feels better than to have all the pieces cut, bagged, packaged with the pattern and ready to go! (I’m just a LITTLE OCD here!) And I’m wondering, how are the chickens??

  45. 53


    I love all aspects of quilting from pattern and fabric selection to cutting to sewing. I like putting on borders the least (with hand turning bindings a close second). I have many tops that are still just the center because that is where I got stopped…at the border. It’s a curse…but I am working on it!

  46. 55


    I love to do every aspect of quilting except maybe the binding. I do sometimes need help in the “reading” of a pattern, but all in all, I love quilting!

  47. 57


    I have the hardest time getting the backings ready and pin basting my quilts. I make lots and lots of flimsies. Love all the rest of the tasks that making a quilt takes. Even the binding is easier to me than making the quilt sandwich. A second choice would be borders. I usually just do blob-o- borders, which is why a mystery is good cause I
    usually don’t know if I’m working on a border or the main part of the quilt, and they get done nicer that way… I love your 8 borders.

  48. 58

    Lynne in Hawaii says

    I’m with Leslie…trimming and squareing a quilt. It’s just something I don’t have a real talent for….so never quite comfortable with that important process. I make do but I don’t like it!

  49. 60

    Becky says

    I hate putting the backings on. I always have to piece them and it is a drag. I love your orange quilt, it looks great. Very sunny looking on a very dreary day! Hang in there and don’t take people’s critiques too seriously. Take what you need from them and move on. Those folks could be insecure and have to cut up on every one else. I enjoy your blog.

  50. 61

    Gloria Yates says

    I dislike adding borders. Border decisions are more difficult for me and secondly, I dislike measuring and squaring up the quilt.

  51. 62


    I know you said not to say quilting, but honestly, my least favorite part is the quilting or more exact, deciding how the quilt should be quilted (design/motif).

  52. 63


    My least favorite thing is the cutting. If I could have someone else do that I would be one happy camper!

  53. 65

    Linda H says

    Hah! I think you just hit it on the nose, Judy. The part I would most like someone to do for me….is the clean-up part…the putting away…the deciding whether it is practical to save that eensy teensy scrap…the folding…the de-linting….all of it.
    I already am spoiled. Because most of my quilts are for my prayer quilt group, someone else hand sews the binding. (The non-quilters in our group do the hand sewing of bindings and labels, record keeping, etc)
    So, yep…someone to clean me up and keep me neat would be a dream.
    You come up with interesting questions! 🙂

  54. 66


    least favorite.. or less likely to get done.:::: Cleaning The House, while Im sewing!
    LOLLl this is where I miss my boys ! when they were young enough to EARN thier privledges .. when they were still at home and we made use of thier ‘two hands’

    now Im stuck doing all those things… sighs… ~~K

  55. 68


    Hmmm…I don’t like ironing that much…it takes so much time while I just want to sit & sew…;o). But what I really like least, is trimming dog ears (?) of a gazillion pieces…if there are just a few, I don’t mind, but when there are hundreds of HSTs, for example, I wish there was someone who could do it for me…
    Interesting question!
    Greetings from Germany,

  56. 69

    Sandy says

    I detest cutting out all the fabric. I just want to get going on the sewing!

    Adding borders isn’t my favorite job either. I have trouble getting them the right length so I don’t have ripples. That is probably the reason why my quilts never have more than 2 borders, lol.

    My favorite job is the handsewing of the binding to the back of the quilt.

    Your orange quilt is gorgeous and the borders really are great! What a fantastic wedding gift.

  57. 70


    Assembling the top — I love starting a new quilt, love making the blocks but once I get it up on the design wall and can *see* what it’s going to look like I’m ready to start something else.

  58. 72

    Glenda in Florida says

    Basting! That is one reason that “quilting by checkbook” is so appealing. No basting!

  59. 73

    Deb says

    Definitely borders. once the quilt gets that big it is hard to deal with for measuring. I am always worried I will meaure wrong and have to redo it. Only had to do it once, but that was enough.

  60. 74


    Mine would be making the backing. I know I could just buy wide backing but the choices are not that great and why do that when I’ve got loads of fabric that is great for a backing. I just hate piecing it together.

  61. 75


    Pressing is just inconvenient with two little girls who find the iron magnetic, and in the summer it’s so hot, but definitely BORDERS!

  62. 76

    Evelyn says

    LABELS! Very few of my quilts have labels, sad I know – once I get the binding on I am just so done that I don’t do the label. One way I have found that helps me get the label on – I fold it into a triangle and sew 2 edges in with the binding. Cheers! Evelyn

  63. 77

    Julianne says

    binding definitely binding. and I have to get back to one. LOL I have been stalling.

  64. 78

    carol c says

    someone else to pay for whatever fabric i want-lol

    i do other peoples binding, sew on by machine, then , i do all the handsewing

    of it, the cutting hurts my back, so i do it sitting when i can.

  65. 80

    Kathy C says

    I really don’t like cutting out the fabric. I am one of those people who LOVE doing bindings, from cutting to sewing to handstitching. Maybe I can get someone to cut my pieces in return for doing their binding.

  66. 81


    Cutting is soooo tedious. I break it up in to short sessions or else my arm, shoulder and neck hurt. It doesn’t help that I am tall and have to use my dining room table. That equals wrong height, wrong angle, and not great lighting! I tend to choose patterns without borders. Currently I am avoiding sewing backings together for two quilts. All that MATH, you know. So I guess that’s my 1, 2, & 3 on least favorite list!

    • 81.1

      Cynthia H., El Cerrito, CA says

      Annie, please look into purchasing “bed risers.” They fit under the legs of a table and raise it up about 8 inches or so. They’re not permanent; you can remove them after your cutting session. Many hardware stores carry them, and they’re easy to find online, too.

  67. 83


    Cutting! After the first block it’s just tedious work on my too low table. I love the pressing part, when the block opens up and you start to see the quilt in the random tiny pieces of fabric.

  68. 85


    I mostly dislike the cutting: I next do not enjoy hand stitching the binding. But having said that, I love it when I have a finished quilt and know I did it all myself.

  69. 86

    Karen says

    I would like someone else to do the paying for. Boy what fun I would have if someone else was paying the bill!

  70. 87

    Debquilts says

    Binding hands down. At one point I had 7 quilts pieced and quilted but no binding. a friend and I have learned to trade. she does the binding for my donation quilts and I do the quilting for hers.

  71. 88

    Linda Bishop says

    If a quilting pattern needs to marked this is my most hated bit. I tell you I would pay someone to do this!

  72. 89

    Mary Carole says

    Borders are my stopping point. I probably have 20 or so tops that came to a screeching halt when they need borders! Don’t know why – just do!

    • 89.1

      Lydia says

      I’m the same way, Mary Carole! I have 17 tops right now waiting for borders — and most of them have been at that point for over a year, some for much longer than that! I LOVE to pull fabrics; because I sit to do it I enjoy cutting; I love to sew pieces together; I don’t mind pressing, and love the result of good and careful pressing and how that shows up in my finished product; I enjoy making and assembling blocks; I love to free-motion quilt, and don’t mind the basting; and I do my bindings totally by machine and don’t mind doing that. It’s not so much that I dislike adding borders to my tops, it’s that it gets tedious. I’m pretty anal about HOW they get done, so it’s a matter of *measure the top in one direction, cut two strips that measurement, quarter-mark the borders and the top, pin the strips in place, sew, press,* lather, rinse and repeat. And pieced borders are actually LESS tedious, although they sometimes take longer to do. I’ve gone to several retreats where all I did was add borders to quilt tops. But that’s a great place to do it, because you can enjoy sewing with your buddies while you’re at a more tedious step.

  73. 91


    I think sandwiching and basting are mine. I have space constraints – it’s always a hassle to set up tables for that process and my back starts to talk to me after bending over for extended periods to pin it.

  74. 92

    Carol says

    Measuring and cutting large pieces of fabric for borders and backings can be frustrating at times. And, while basting a sandwich, my back reminds me who’s the boss.

  75. 94


    I’d like to have someone else press all the little HST’s that I’ve chain pieced. I like to work in steps and do all the chain piecing of whatever shape at once, but that yields a ga’zillion pieces to press. I need a pressing faerie to land in my sewing studio!

  76. 95

    Ronda K Beyer says

    If i could only choose one it would be the cutting however if I could have two then I would add the binding unless it is curved binding I love doing that…. Love the colors of YOUR quilt

  77. 96


    I would have to say layering and basting. I do not have enough room to layer a queen size quilt very easily. I love all other sides of it though.

  78. 98

    Patty says

    The thing I hate the most is pre-washing the fabric. And then ironing all that yardage!
    I am just a little over the top with OCD, I cannot start cutting on the fabric until it is really starched and ironed. Stiff!
    Everything else I love! including the binding on the quilt. I always sew the binding on by hand, not machine. That is the most relaxing to me!

  79. 99


    I can’t say I’ve read through the comments to know if anyone agrees, but I can easily say the part I hate most is squaring up the quilt in preparation of binding.

    OH, it is SO upsetting if it doesn’t square up easily, and then you question where you made the mistake because it all seemed square when you sewed and quilted and even measured it. And then you worry about taking too much off of one edge, or leaving too much batting hanging out that your binding won’t cover it, and and and. SO stressful to be so close to the end and yet so close to disaster.

  80. 100

    Susan ~ Patchkat in TX says

    Any paper piecing that has to be done…that is the most evil quilting process and I am so “dislexic” when I try to do it. It’s good for me to have a friend who is adept at paper piecing!

    Other than that, I really dislike have to trim blocks and square up the quilt.

  81. 101


    Sandwiching–at least the larger quilts– without a doubt. I don’t have a table for it and my back and knees won’t let me do it on the floor anymore. I must have 6 tops in a bin, unlayered and waiting….

  82. 102


    I know this is late, but when you first asked the question, I didn’t think there was a step I disliked more than another. BUT, while working on a sample this weekend, I realized that there is a step that I would prefer someone else do for me…..laying out blocks before sewing them into the top. What a pain! Trying to get the best color/design distribution across the top just wears me out.