Craft Chat

Quilting Crimes, UFO Symbolism, and a Cheater Binding Tutorial!

Lots of themes going on in this post!  I finally finished up my Road to Tennessee quilt, I got all philosophical, AND made a tutorial.  But I promise to keep it short and snappy!

Quilting Crimes

I committed a couple quilting crimes while finishing this quilt, and I don’t even care!  I used a sheet for the backing, even though that’s a big “No-No,” and I used a “cheater binding” instead of cutting and attaching the binding the “right” way.  But sometimes… life doesn’t play by the rules, so I figured that I don’t have to either.  Plus, I’m an Amateur, right??  Even though using a bedding sheet is against the “rules,” it just felt right for this quilt.  I quilted a simple grid to keep the layers together, and my Road to Tennessee feels more like a blanket, already soft, broken in, and comfy, without the usual stiffness of a brand-new quilt.

The second quilting crime I committed was the cheater binding.  I used the same trick for the chevron table runner (link to the free tutorial at Prudent Baby), but I started taking pictures of the process for myself while working on this project.  Sometimes it’s easier to learn by teaching, so the tutorial that I tweaked below is for my own records too.

But first, a little symbolism for your Friday morning!

UFO Symbolism

It feels so good to get this UFO (Un-Finished Object) completed!  If you recall, I made this Road to Tennessee quilt top last year while I was homebound and recovering from surgery.  It really helped to have a hobby like quilting that required focus and creativity.  My days felt a little more purposeful when I was working on a project.  Finally finishing this quilt a year later felt all kinds of symbolic.  Like wrapping up a chapter in my life, reflecting on how much has changed in a year, creating something good out of a bad memory, or… something profound along those lines!

Let me confess the story of how I came to use a bed sheet for the backing of this quilt, despite that being the number one “no-no” of quilting.  It was just too perfect for this project, and I’m a sucker for a bit of symbolism.  You may remember that after my resection surgery last year (when inches of my Crohn’s-inflamed small and large intestines were removed), I had an ileostomy bag for a few months while the internal sutures were healing.  (You can Google it, but you’ll wish you hadn’t.)

To make a long story short, the sheets on my bed sustained a few unsightly stains due to a bag explosion.  It was a rather traumatic event during a rather traumatic time, and I didn’t even attempt to clean the fitted sheet—I just threw it away.  But then I had a top sheet that was perfectly find but didn’t match anything else, and I  couldn’t bear to waste all the fabric.  So I washed it, folded it, stacked it with my other UFOs, and then the sheet just sat and sat in my fabric stash.  The sheet is old and worn and I was about to throw it away too, when I suddenly considered that the color might match my unfinished Road to Tennessee quilt top… another project sitting forlornly in the same pile of UFOs.

So that’s how this quilt has come full circle: creating the quilt top helped me heal and the backing was taken from one of the worst moments of that healing time.  If I really pondered a bit more, I’m sure I could come up with some pithy phrase about finding the good during the bad times, but I can’t off the fly.  For now it’s enough that the unspoken symbolism keeps me warm while I’m sitting on the couch and writing this blog post!  Sometimes actions speak louder than words… or rather, quilts are warmer than words, or something to that effect…


And now for the promised tutorial!

Cheater Binding Tutorial

This binding approach is super easy, and it’s the same trick I used for the chevron table runner.  It eliminates the extra step of cutting and attaching separate strips for binding by using the backing.  I love it!  This method is great for small quilts… particularly if you don’t care that it looks especially professional or perfect.  It’s been my mission lately to throw perfectionism out the window and just try to enjoy the process of crafting a bit more.

1.) After quilting your sandwich of top, batting, and backing, trim the excess batting to the edge of the quilt top.

2.) Trim the excess backing to one inch  around all sides.

3.) You’re going to fold the backing twice to create the binding that will overlap onto the quilt top.  Start near a corner and work clockwise around the quilt.  Fold the backing in half, then fold it again so that it overlaps the quilt top by 1/2″.

Fold in half once
Fold in half again, pin in place

4.) Pin the binding down on all sides.  I just pin as I go.

5.) For corners, you want to create a neat mitered fold.   When you pin the binding at the end of one side, fold the backing on a diagonal, then proceed with the double fold on the next side.

Your corner should look like this.

6.) Stitch close to the edge of the binding on each side to finish the quilt.  My seam is about 1/8” on all sides.

There you go!  Hope you didn’t mind that I crammed so much into a single post 🙂

10 thoughts on “Quilting Crimes, UFO Symbolism, and a Cheater Binding Tutorial!

  1. Thanks for the tutorial! I am about to start a quilt I have been waiting to do for quite some time. And shame on me I guess, I never knew sheets were a ‘no-no’ for a quilt backing. I always thought that would be a great thing to use. Yours looks great!


  2. Fabulous! My thoughts about “no-no”s for quilting have more to do with people wanting to feel elitist than actual practicality. (shhh… don’t tell anyone that I actually buy yarn at JoAnn Fabrics instead of at a yarn shop…. and try to get it cheaply, too!). How wonderful that you are able to create something beautiful out of a hard memory!

    And thanks for the tutorial! I cut and assembled some binding for two quilt tops I made last spring, but my first attempts to actually bind the quilt scared me, so I have had them just sitting in a pile for over a year now. Clearly this is the great solution!


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