Today’s workshop #8 about how to finish a quilt, is really three free quilting classes in one:
- How to add batting to a quilt
- how to add backing to a quilt, and
- how to bind a quilt.
Get ready for a ton of illustrations! And with so many step-by-step photos, this is arguably the best tutorial on FineCraftGuild.
This is workshop #8 in a series of workshops where art quilt designer Janeen van Niekerk shows us how to make a simple quilt. The workshops are filled with quilting tips for beginners. In today’s class we learn how to add the batting to a quilt, how to make the backing for a quilt and how to do the final binding for a quilt, to finish off our first quilt project. (See below for workshops 1-7 in this series of free beginners quilting workshops).
How to Add a Quilt Backing
Or, the making of the quilt sandwich.
“Now that our quilt top is done, we need to make a “quilt sandwich” with batting and a backing fabric. The layers will be joined together in preparation for quilting. This is also known as ‘basting’ our quilt.
How Much & Which Batting Do You Need for Your Quilt
Measure your top before you go so that you know how much to get. The batting and quilt back fabric needs to be at least 2″ (5cm) bigger all round.
Ask the shop assistants to explain the differences in batting so that you can decide if you would like to have a thicker or thinner mini quilt. I have a thinner denser batting. (photo # 1a)
If you have a large enough table or cutting area you can lay your batting out onto it, but I have to use the cleaned floor in my sewing room. I lay my quilt top onto the middle of my batting and smooth it out from the center to get all bubbles and wrinkles out. We just need it to be really flat, not stretched out. (#2)
Usually the backing fabric would have been first and then the batting and then the quilt top (quilt sandwich), BUT I wanted to make this really easy for beginners, so I don’t have my back fabric in the mix just yet.
There are sprays you can buy at quilting shops to hold your fabric and batting really still, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to see any in the shops here where I live. No matter, once the top is smooth, I pin my top onto the batting around the edge and also in intersections in the middle. You can also use safety pins or pins with caps so that you don’t hurt yourself or the fabric doesn’t move around on you as you sew. Most people start in the middle and work outwards, smoothing as they pin.
Stitching the top down
Now we are going to do a little “straight line” quilting onto our top – with just the batting underneath. I sewed around the very edge of the dark border using a dark thread. (#3 & #4)
Using my hands on both sides of the dark stripe, I slowly went all around the edge. This was so that I could hold down the fabric and keep it smooth as I was sewing. (#6)
There was no need to push and pull on the quilt. I also went around the inside edge of the dark border. I done this to hold everything down and together for doing a little more quilting later. (#5)(#7)
NOTE: it really helps to have a large flat surface next to you as you are sewing the top because you are moving a large amount of fabric around. Be careful – there are pins in this – and move the top around a little at a time as you sew a small section.
Now that the top and batting are ‘joined’ I cut the batting to mirror the edge of my quilt top. (#8)
Don’t cut your quilt top borders any smaller – just the batting. Now you need to lay out the backing fabric and place your top onto the middle of it so that you have at least 1,5 – 2″ all around the top. You can trim your back down to this size, but don’t cut it to the same size as the quilt top.
If your backing fabric is too small to go across as one piece, you can always cut two pieces of fabric and join them down the middle. You press your seam open (to eliminate any bulkiness) and then use that middle seam as the guide for the middle of your quilt back.
Once you have smoothed all things down and you’re happy with the position, you need to pin the back to the front. Same as before, pin down with pins or with safety pins smoothing down as you go. (#9)
I decided to only sew a few straight lines running from the top to the bottom along the block seams (this is also called ‘stitch in the ditch’) onto my ‘quilt sandwich’. I used a lighter thread that would match my fabrics. As I moved towards the center of the top, I rolled up the edge so that it would fit into the ‘throat’ of my sewing machine, and then turned it around and worked from the other side when it became a little too cramped. (#10)
As I approach a pin, I stop and first remove it so that I don’t damage my needle or machine by sewing over it. Quilting the ‘sandwich’ together helps to hold the fabrics together, so that when you wash your quilt, the fabrics won’t move or bunch up.
We won’t be doing any “Free Motion Quilting” onto our quilt top – these are quilted patterns made with your machine using a special foot. These need loads of practice before you do them onto your finished top. There are lots of videos you can watch on YouTube for free showing this beautiful technique.
How to Bind a Quilt
Now it’s time for the edges or the “binding”. Usually binding is a separate bias cut or folded piece of fabric, but we are going to make our back fabric into our binding. Don’t let the “quilting police” tell you this is all wrong! This is a quick way for a beginner to add the binding to the quilt and does not look awful.
We need to fold our back fabric (sticking out past our front) in half and then fold it again over the front of the quilt top. ( #11)
Pin this in place. Do this for the whole top. (#12) In the corners of the binding we want our quilt to look really good, so follow the photos and you should be able to do this without any headaches.
On the corner, (#13)….
…. I make a fold inwards from the edge. (#14)
Then I fold my binding in half again as I done with the sides, then fold it back over the top and pin it in place. (#15)
It makes a neat mitered corner that you can sew down as you go around the edge of the top. (#16)(#17)
Bindings can also be hand sewn, but I don’t have that kind of patience, I just sew neatly in a straight line onto the edge of my binding. (#18) When you finish, just hand sew the ends of the cotton threads back into the quilt.
Now you are done and have made your own mini-quilt. (#19,20,21)
‘Til next time,
Want to begin sewing quilts with me?
Join our free online quilting workshops, which you can take at your leisure, any time you want.
Free Quilting Patterns & Tutorials & Classes in this quilting course by Janeen van Niekerk:
- Class #2: Quilting Tools – What you’ll need as a beginner.
- Class #3 : How to Choose & Work with Quilting Fabric.
- Class #4: How to Read & Work with a Quilt Pattern.
- Class #5: Creating a Finished Quilt Block .
- Class #6: How to Make Quilt Rows – from finished blocks.
- Class #7: How to add borders to your quilt.
- Class #8 : How to finish a quilt: add backing, batting and how to bind a quilt.
- Class #9 : How to Make Quilt Blocks more Exciting.
- Class #10 : How to Make a Modern Lap Quilt.
- Class #11 : How to Make a Modern Lap Quilt, the next steps.
- Class #12: How to finish a Quilt :: Modern Lap Quilt.
About Quilting Instructor Janeen van Niekerk
Our latest news of quilt making instructor Janeen van Niekerk is that she has just launched a brand new paper piecing magazine.
Quilt artist Janeen van Niekerk is an avid quilter. In particular, she’s an accomplished paper piecing designer. She does it all with a passion.
Janeen’s prolific range of hand-made quilts (she takes commissions for personalized, stylish portrait quilts), as well as her unique quilt patterns (think quilts featuring safari animals and trees, or kids toys) are inspired by her environs; she lives in sunny Pretoria in South Africa, with her husband and kids.
Janeen offers her quilts designs & paper piecing patterns for individual sale Out of Janeen’s 230+ quilt patterns for sale, these are my top 5 Paper Piecing Quilt Patterns, Animals and Flowers. All really beautiful!!
Janeen van Niekerk (spelled by some as Janine van Niekerk) was part of the Free Block of the Month -club, offering a free paper piecing quilt block pattern, each month.
Quilting Pattern Library & Other Training Courses
This gorgeous owl quilt pattern is both included in one of Janeen’s books as well as being available for individual sale. Don’t you just love this quilt design?
The owl and all Janeen’s other patterns were for sale at Craftsy.
Or,… continue your journey with Quilting patterns, tutorials and ideas featured here at FineCraftGuild.com (beyond Janeen’s quilting course).