Friday, December 12, 2008

Binding is the New Yoga

I hope that's not an especially polarizing statement. I mention this because I don't think I've ever met a quilter who expressed a positive opinion of binding a quilt. As recently as a couple of days ago, a friend grimaced as she mentioned that, though she was very pleased with her latest quilt, she still had to bind it and what a drudgery that was. I'm not going to even pretend that I understand this perspective on binding. I've got sympathy, but no real empathy.
I really like binding quilts. And, who knows, maybe I really like doing a lot of things that most folks would find tedious. Because I prefer to think of myself as a relatively normal person, I don't delve too deeply into this issue. But, I stand by what I said, I like binding quilts.


Actually I find it pretty darn relaxing. There's something about gathering a quilt on your lap and slowly, patiently hand stitching the binding. I sometimes think of it as reconnecting with the quilt. Think about it. Everything else about making a quilt has been done, at least in my case, by machine. This is the one job associated with this process that doesn't require electricity.


It also never fails to make me feel connected to the way quilts have been made for generations. I think that's pretty powerful and really quite comforting. And maybe that's why I always feel calm when I'm binding a quilt. I'm slowing down to work at a pace that for better or worse belonged to a bygone era. I'm reconnecting by taking the stitches one at a time the way they used to.


It's a vacation from my usual pace and that's why I like binding quilts.

37 comments:

Amber said...

I completely agree. I love binding quilts (I did a post just like this a while back) - it's just so relaxing and for a while I was making quilts just so I could put binding on them :-)

Julie Alvarez said...

I never did this by hand, yet. I hope I will. I am quite patient, so I think I will like it too.
Hey, I am asking this again and again... who is that gorgeous quilt for? Is it on sale?

froghair said...

I agree with both of you. I love binding my quilts! It's meditative and calming. And besides, when you're done, the quilt is DONE.

Two Dogs and a Quilt said...

Those are my sentiments EXACTLY. I especially love reconnecting with a quilt that is going to live somewhere else. I was surprised how much I loved binding, because I thought this would be a tedious task when I first started quilting.

Kristin L said...

I can't say I get excited about binding a quilt, but I don't mind it either. I enjoy hand work and always have something in the machine and something on the couch (the hand work place), so sewing on binding fits right in. I also love the fact that when I'm done with the binding, then the quilt is done, so sewing it on means I'm just about done!

Paula said...

I enjoy binding also. Of course, I love holding a needle and thread.... it's the part of making quilts that I like. Hand quilting and binding by hand. The quilt is so cute. One of a kind!

Frogdancer said...

The last time I was binding a quilt was when I was making one for my son's birthday and I was running out of time. So I took it to work with me (I'm a secondary teacher) and did most of the binding while my classes were writing essays.

It was the perfect job to do... silent and (after the first moment of shock for each class!) absolutely non distracting for the students.

One question... what's the implement you photographed at the end? Either it's a mutant pair of scissors or it's something I've never seen before.

Lynn said...

I also enjoy binding quilts. It is like applique. Relaxing. Just following the edge of the fabric.

Malka Dubrawsky said...

Julie,
The quilt is for a couple in Atlanta. They ordered it a few months ago.

Malka Dubrawsky said...

Hi Lynn,
Those are left-handed applique scissors.

Libby said...

I'm with you; I enjoy it. It is relaxing handwork, and it's very satisfying because when you finish...you have a quilt!

smileull said...

Binding quilts is so relaxing! Stitch, stitch, stitch. I wish I could make quilts just by imagining them, picking out the fabrics - and binding... :-) Your quilt is so brilliant and wonderful, it´s been fun following the process.

marijke an swaaij said...

Amen

Diane said...

The binding is my very favorite part ~ and for all the same reasons as you listed. (Also, I like to sleep under a quilt for a night before I wash it and give it away.)

Karoda said...

I like the pace and meditative sense of binding my quilts...what I don't like is putting on a sleeve and a label and squaring up!

Annie D said...

I like finishing the binding on quilts but I know that I am about to sever my connection with the piece and sometimes that can be a sad, almost traumatic process. I am always aware that this is the last physical process I have with the quilt - sometimes it is a joy to be passing it on and other times it is heartwrenching, but it is always a process of transition which without exceptiion takes longer than expected!

beki said...

I'm with you. I look forward to binding my quilts.

Laura Jane said...

I love the binding part, because of all the reasons you have listed, and becasue it is (usually)so beautifully set off by the binding and it is the first time I have seen that effect.

Then I snuggle and gawp at it anew, and feel very smug that it is done and can be admired in its entirety.

erica e said...

oh, i'm with you- i love binding. i posted about this not long ago. putting the binding on a quilt is like the icing on the cake. the final act of a show that helps you to really appreciate the masterpiece.

PatchworkPottery said...

I also enjoy binding quilts! I find it very soothing & relaxing. It gives me a feeling that the quilt is being coming close to completion... the final steps :o)

Fulvia said...

I like the time and pace it takes for me to stitch a binding in place; it allows me the space I need to revisit every step it took to make the piece, think about what it took to get it from idea to reality, what went as I planned, what changed and why, how to deal with something next time, to bond with the work, to thank it for the time spent together, to release it so I can start something new ... I am grateful.

GroovyMoonChild said...

I also love binding. There is something comforting about having an excuse to snuggle up with a blankie in your lap (I also usually end up with a cat in my lap too - they like to test out the quilts for knead-ability)

mikawendy said...

I love binding quilts, too. It's the only step I can do in front of the TV (aside from pressing and cutting scraps), and it's the only step I can really take with me to work on while I'm waiting places. The only time I didn't like binding was recently when for some odd reason my thimble was not fitting right and kept falling off.

tpanderson said...

I enjoy the hand stitching when I bind a quilt as well. It's the quilting I dislike. See comment left for last post.

KathieB said...

I like working on quilt binding. It's an excuse to sit on the couch and watch TV! And it certainly is relaxing, although sometimes it's so relaxing that I sort of fall asleep with needle in hand. This is why it takes me an inordinate number of evenings on the couch to actually finish the binding.

Janis said...

I like binding too. It's almost magical how it comes together and looks so perfect that every few inches I just have to stop and marvel at it. Did I do that?!

amandajean said...

I love binding quilts, too. it's one of the only times I sit down guilt free...because my hands are so busy. It is a great time to sit under the quilt and enjoy the details of the piece.

Leah said...

Looks like your comment wasn't controversial at all! Your sentiments echo mine about hand quilting, which is all I do. I love feeling that connection both to the past as well as to the person who is going to end up with the quilt. Which is probably why by the time I get to binding, I am ready to be done. But it is incredibly satisfying!

sugarcreekstuff said...

I love binding a quilt, even more so with a quilt I'm giving away. It gives us more time to spend together.

Claire - Matching Pegs said...

I'm with all the other people who love binding. I think it is lovely and realxing, as is needlturn applique, which feels similar to me.

Carolyn said...

i actually love doing the binding. even though i stabbed myself in the cheek with the needle today and all my fingers are very sore! :) (just finished binding two quilts in a row!)

Julie Alvarez said...

Lucky couple in Atlanta!

Lainie said...

I love binding quilts - and your description fits my definition of "slow cloth" very well. But while binding a quilt is contemplative and creative and satisfying, it's not yoga, at least not real yoga.

mixtapezine said...

i love binding quilts ;)

Linda Zokan said...

Thank you for saying what some of us are afraid to admit out loud. I like to bind my quilts. Perhaps we are afraid to admit more openly because we may be inundated with pleas from quilters less enthralled with binding. It can be a very relaxing process (unless there's a deadline) and in some way, a slow goodbye caress to another quilt finished.

pink pool noodle said...

I LOVE putting on the binding. A) it means that my quilt is nearly finished. B)Keeps me warm and cozy while I do the hand stiching and C)It is relaxing!

Crafty Red Fox said...

I totally agree with you about binding too. I feel as though I really get to know my quilt at that point and that affection gets sent off with the quilt to it's new home.