The Last Quilting Frontier

Since taking the picture of the stack of quilts to be bound, 3 more have been added and 2 more will be done today.  I have deadlines to meet!  Not all 27 of the quilts have to be bound by next week but more than half of them do.

My dear friend, Vicky . . poor darling!  Not only does she have a stressful job, and problems of her own but she’s my “go to” girl when I need a shoulder on which to cry.  Yesterday, out of total frustration, I sent her an email and it said something like this:

I’m so frustrated!  I’ll never get everything done.  I think I’ll finish quilting the last two quilts, throw everything in the car and drive to Louisiana!

Now, don’t ask me what driving to Louisiana was going to solve but . . I guess even at my age, when the going gets tough, mom and dad’s house is where I want to be.  My thinking was that I wouldn’t have to cook, wash clothes . . I could just sit and sew on binding and mom would help.

The only reasons I’m not driving to Louisiana as you read this . . a wedding on Sunday and I have teaching engagements next week.  So, it was time to put on the big girl panties and tackle this problem like an adult.  Yes, I can be an adult when I have no other options! 🙂

After having read all the comments left about my mountain of binding, and about how many quilters finish their binding by machine, I said to myself . . dang it . . if they can do it, I can too!

I finished the handwork on the binding on Peaches & Dreams, my thumb and wrist were killing me and I was ready for bed but this little voice inside me kept saying . . your only hope of meeting those deadlines is to get the binding finished by machine!

I came back downstairs, dug through the pile of unbound quilts, found a donation quilt, started pinning . . got about half of one side done and took it to the machine.  First try and I’ll be a monkey’s uncle . . I think it looks better than my hand binding!


I stitched in the ditch on the front.


I barely caught the edge on the back.  Well, I could’ve changed the bobbin thread to green.  It still had peach thread from Peaches & Dreams but hey . . this was just for practice.

Oh, this is the best thing I’ve done in years!!  Within a bit more than an hour, I had a whole quilt (not this one . . a big quilt!) bound.  I can meet my deadlines!

When I first started quilting in the early 80’s, I pieced and quilted everything by hand.  At some point early on, I decided I’d never get all the quilts made that I wanted to make so if I pieced by machine and still quilted by hand, no one would know; the quilt police would never find me and all would be grand.  That worked until the unquilted tops filled my home and then I decided I must break down and allow my tops to be machine quilted (by Martha Vincent in Sulphur, Louisiana before I got my own machine).  I guess I’ve about come full circle since I now piece, quilt and looks like I’ll be binding from now on . . all by machine!

Thanks to all who encouraged me to try and try again . . til I got it right!  You’ve changed my quilting world!



  1. 1


    Please send some of that “gung ho” spirit over to England.. I have so many projects [ some of them your fault ha!ha! ] to finish, so what am I doing cutting out 30 paper pieced stars to take away on holiday with me! This will be the first time I have taken a sewing machine away on its holiday.. hope he enjoys the sea air of Scotland!

  2. 2


    WooHoo!!! Congratulations and your hands and wrists say thank you!! I guess now I’m going to have to bite the bullet. Thank goodness I don’t have nearly as many as you, lol!!
    Did you get my email about focus? Any info would be great.

  3. 3


    Maybe I’ll try that again someday……and hope for good results like you just got! Good for you.

  4. 4


    Ah, ha……so pleased you decided to give the machine binding another try, I knew you could do it and would be so pleased.

    : )

  5. 5


    I do most of my bindings by machine – unless I’m really in the mood to do some hand sewing, or it’s a very specail quilt. I use invisible thread on the front, matching thread on the back and do a very tiny zig zag stitch – works like a charm. Now you can meet all your deadlines and we can see all these wonderful quilts:)

  6. 6


    I also do most of my binding by machine. When I was doing a ton of charity quilts, it became necessary, or I would have quit. I think it works well, and may even be a stronger way since binding is sometimes the first to go after “machine” washing. I have even ventured into using some of the decorative stitches that are loaded on my machine. Glad that you had success!

  7. 7

    Marilyn says

    I’m so proud of you. I knew you could do it. Just needed some encouragement from your friends and off you went. There’s no stopping you now!
    Way to go!!!

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    I was amazed at how many quilts you can add binding to in one day. I’d just have sewn one and called it a day! I’m glad that machine sewing bindings is working out for you. I did one, but since I like to add a big binding, it looked silly on the back. I’ll have to try it with a smaller binding.

  9. 9


    Judy, I wish I had one half your quilting energy–seems like other stuff like yardwork and house work all get in the way. Would you explain the process of how you got your machine binding to look so nice?? I too have tried to bind by machine and always end up not getting the back caught.

  10. 10


    Glad to see you will meet your deadlines..I’m still in the binding by hand club but maybe I’ll give it another try.


  11. 11


    That binding looks great! I tried it once and it was a disaster. Didn’t catch about half of the binding on the back side. Hang in there. They’ll all get done before you know it! xo

  12. 12

    Mary Lea says

    Judy, the binding does look good done by machine and oh the time that saves, Congratulations!

  13. 13

    Cheryl L says

    Judy, Good for you!!! I’m curious, too, about your process? Like Janna and Vicky I don’t always catch the binding on the backside and those corners can be really tricky, too!

  14. 15


    One BIG help for doing machine binding is Elmer’s school glue (Be sure to get the SCHOOL glue and not regular Elmer’s. It will wash out when the sewing is done.)! Use a tiny line of glue, fold your binding over, and iron it to dry the glue. This holds the binding in place much better than pins. I also cut the binding a little bit wider when I am planning on machine hemming it… that gives a little more overlap so less of the line of stitching “falling off” the binding. Hope these hints help make the others go even faster! Binding is not fun, but it feels so good when you can say, “DONE!”.

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    I would never get ANY quilts bound if I didn’t do it all by machine. I have found that it really helps to iron the binding the direction you want it to lay. After I sew it to the front, first I flip it and iron it flat over the raw edge of the quilt and then fold it under (to the backside) and iron it again.

    Have a great weekend!

  16. 17

    Sharon says

    I have never done a binding by hand. Only by machine. Someday I would like to do one by hand because I love the way they look but since mine are mostly baby quilts, I have always just sewn the binding on the machine.

  17. 20

    Karen S says

    Great work! I usually always put the binding on by machine, unless I have a hankering to do hand work! (and believe me, that doesn’t happen very often)
    I usually sew the double fold binding on the back then bring around a stitch down from the front. No chance of not catching on the back this way.

  18. 21


    Way to go, Judy!! We all knew you could do it and now you do too. I always attach the binding on the back, turn it to the front, line up the edge with the stitching line and topstitch along the edge using the left edge of the right presser foot “toe” as a guide, with the needle set just a bit to the right of that edge. It stays pretty even that way and also topstitches along the edge on the back. But I’m going to try the way you did it. I like the look of no topstitching on the front.

  19. 24

    Robin says

    Well- good for you! One of these days I’ll try it- hand sewing the binding takes a while but I tend to hand sew a lot of things that others may not. I ‘m still in the process of learning how to machine quilt! I just want to know how long it took you to get the 27 quilts made- that just amazes me- I don’t think I could make 27 in 2 years! LOL

  20. 25

    Pam says

    Way to go. The more you machine stitch bindings, the better the look.
    I happen to do piped bindings ala Ricky Tims, but my version. Once I got over my anxiety about the double mitered corners, I was off and running (stitching).
    Good luck on the brave new endeavor. I know that you will accomplish your dead lines.

  21. 27

    Rebecca says

    Oh, boy…I already thought you were way productive! Now instead of choking on your dust, it’ll just be a storm on the horizon!

  22. 28


    You surprised me — I’ve been resisting trying because I’ve seen so many that people brag about looking good that I think look bad…..but this does look good. Maybe I’ll even break down and try one myself.

  23. 30

    Evelyn says

    Great job! Machine binding is perfectly acceptable – I do all my bindings by machine. I cut my binding a little bit wider (I think 2 1/4″). After attaching the binding by machine to the back, I flip it over and top stitch it to the front. Because my binding is a bit wider my stitches run just alongside the binding on the back – on the backing fabric. So I use a bobbin thread to match the backing fabric. I think it is easier than trying to catch the back side of the binding perfectly – just in case you want to try something different, although it seems like you don’t have trouble catching the backside of the binding. Good for you, really! Cheers! Evelyn

  24. 31

    Regina Scott Brooks says

    Judy, I am a bit behind in reading your blog so I just read this post today. I want to bind by machine but mine looks AWFUL! Do you plan on posting your technique? Thanks.