Hello! My name is Mandy Leins of Mandalei Quilts, and I am a longarmer, pattern designer, and book author. While I almost always label my quilts, this last year was so busy that I didn’t get to attaching information to everything. That got me thinking about the ways we label our quilts, and I wanted to try something a little different. This tutorial is how I used the built-in alphabets on my BERNINA 790 to add text to the binding itself. Because my BERNINA is capable of a 9mm stitch width, I have provided the cutting instructions I used. Machines with a narrow stitch width may be able to use strips cut slightly less wide.
- Strips for binding cut 2 3/4″ x Width of Fabric (enough to cover your quilt edges plus extra for overlapping)
- glue stick
- Tear away stabilizer, such as Ultra Clean and Tear
- 50 wt cotton thread (I used Aurifil)
- Open embroidery foot #20/20C/20D
- appropriate stitch plate for zigzag
Instructions for making binding with words
Cut your binding strips 2 3/4″, fold one strip in half lengthwise and press, as you would for regular binding strips. You will stitch out your words before you sew the strips together, so set the remaining strips to the side.
Cut a strip of stabilizer longer and slightly wider than your binding strip that has been folded in half. Open up your binding strip so that the crease runs down the center. With a light hand, draw a stripe of glue with your glue stick along the length of your stabilizer, and then gently place the left side of your binding strip, wrong side down, over the glue. When you are satisfied that the area is covered, heat set with an iron.
I like to situate the text around the middle of the strip so that it’s not too near any potential seam lines, or the beginning and ending of the binding process. This is an important consideration and will have an impact on your choices coming up, so plan carefully.
To add the letters, use your finger or stylus to select the alphabet style you want from the Alphabet folders.
Select the alphabet font you wish using the folders you have available. In this tutorial, I chose the script, and chose to give my company name and the year the quilt was made, “Mandalei 2015”.
Then touch the “+” icon underneath the image of the presser foot. This will allow you to add a series of letters to spell out what you wish.
Select the letters you want. I used an underscore to create space between “Mandalei” and “2015”. If you make a mistake, simply press the icon for information (located in the middle between the image of the stitches on the left and the folders on the right).
The next screen gives you a number of options for altering the letters (including mirroring, adjusting sizes, and more), and also gives you the option for deleting a mistake. You can see I have two “a” characters, and want to remove the last one! If it is the last thing you entered, simply touch the trash can and the last character you entered will be removed.
Press the “i” button again to get back to the previous screen, and continue to enter in the characters you want.
Before you begin stitching, line up the crease of the fold under the middle of the right toe of your presser foot. Use the same thread for your top thread and your bobbin, and slowly begin stitching out your phrase. Using your screen, keep an eye on where your stitch path is and be prepared to stop when you reach the end, or your phrase will repeat itself.
Remove your binding strip and clip your threads. Remove the stabilizer as well as you can. Because this is going to be inside the binding, and because the stabilizer softens in water, you can be a little less strict about removing all of it!
Sew your binding strips together as you normally would, but with the strip you just stitched out first in the series. Figure out where you want this to be situated on your quilt (it won’t be visible from the front, so I am not super picky, being more thoughtful about where the seams and corners fall). Attach your binding as usual, with the text against the top of your quilt, as shown.
This binding requires hand stitching it to the back, and I like to use the ladder stitch but you can do whatever you wish!
I like this technique because it is also much harder to remove than a quilt label. While I wouldn’t use it for a show quilt, I think it adds a nice touch for special quilts made for others, or for quilts that need more permanent information applied. Happy quilting!