Handy Little Clips Simplify French Binding

Yesterday I posted that I’d decided to finish my two most recent works with a fine binding on each of them, and one had been hanging on the design wall for several weeks waiting for that decision. Yesterday I swung into action, as I rarely have more than one work in progress, and had realised I needed to totally finish off these two before I could concentrate on the next couple I have in mind! It’s just how I work, a mental process, a mind-clearing thing; and I’m the same in the kitchen, where I just can’t start cooking something until the bench spaces are cleared and clean, the washing up’s dealt with, and any rubbish has been removed.

Perhaps it was a store display that influenced me to buy these little plastic clips by Clover on my last trip to the USA, and although they were new to me, I knew they’d be handy for something the minute I saw them. Of course, I might be the last quiltmaker to come across these handy gadgets, because it took me 18 months to take them out and try them, for some reason! But I’m glad I did eventually, because they’re quite brilliant. Using a few of them dispenses with the need to pin, and tack/baste the binding into place before stitching it down on the back.

The neon coloured side is slightly shaped to fit over the binding on the front side, and they’re easy to reposition by sliding or unclipping as the hand stitching proceeds. I’m sure they’re great with machined stitching too, but I fold my bindings over from the front to the back then hand stitch into place.

The strong spring loaded clip can be moved sideways as you stitch, holding down the turned back binding strip to show the same amount, about 0.75cm or 0.5in, on the front of a quilt. For some strange reason, I didn’t use them until the second quilt, and was so impressed with that result that I unpicked and completely re-sewed the binding on the first one; and it was amazing how easy it was to get a perfect French binding.

Strata 2 (working title) with about 1cm of binding showing.
Green Dimension 2 (working title) About 1cm of binding showing. Neon threads are very difficult to get right in photography.

If French binding is new to you, do try to get a copy of Mimi Deitrich’s “Happy Endings”, published several times since 1988; there are second hand copies on sites like Amazon and Etsy, and of course there are videos on YouTube too – you can check them out and find one that suits. Personally I don’t ever do diagonal seams when joining bindings as most of the videos do- but you’ll find your way – there is no absolutely correct way in all this, unless you think you might run up against the deaded “quilt police” judges in a prestigious traditional quilt show somewhere 🙂

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