In blogland lately, I’ve noticed there has been a lot of discussion about machine-binding quilts versus hand-stitching the bindings. From my perspective, there are two main advantages to machine binding:
1. It’s faster– most people seem to want to make a quilt in the shortest length of time possible, and that translates to doing everything by machine. Many people don’t hand-quilt, hand applique, or hand embroider simply because it takes too long.
2. It supposedly holds up better. I do believe this is true. Almost anything stitched by machine is going to hold longer simply because there are so many more stitches in a machine stitch, and they lock together so much better. Try ripping out a seam sewn by machine and one sewn by hand, and you’ll be a believer. While this is a definite advantage, I can easily repair a strip of binding that comes undone, so it’s not a deal-breaker for me. On the other hand, if the quilt is a gift, the recipient might not be able to sew.
Despite these two major advantages of machine-binding, I still choose to hand-stitch my own bindings. Why?
1. I like the look. With time and practice, your hand stitching on the back of a quilt binding becomes almost invisible. Even if it’s not totally invisible, it gives the quilt a nice hand-made look, and overall, the effect is cleaner than a line of sewing stitches that show through on the front of a machine-bound quilt.
2. I enjoy the process. After speedily machine-quilting a project, it’s nice to sit and “bond” with it afterward. I know that sounds silly, but binding is the last step of the process, and a part of me is always sad to see a project come to an end, so binding by hand is a way to drag it out a little. Furthermore, although some people despise hand-work, I actually really enjoy it. I also cross stitch, which is a hobby that does not give immediate results, so I’m used to hand-work and the extra time it takes, so the slowness of the process doesn’t bother me that much. I usually bind a quilt while snuggling under it watching TV. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
I hand bind every quilt I make, whether it’s a gift, to sell, or for myself. I use hand-quilting thread for extra strength, and I hope for the best as far as the hand-sewing holding well. So far, I’ve never had a binding fail. In fact, I’ve had seams in the actual quilt fail before a binding, so that’s good enough for me.
I do believe there’s room for many different techniques, and if others prefer machine-binding, then more power to them. Personally, I haven’t found a machine technique that produces a look I’m happy with, but I may find one in the future. You never know! For now, though, I’m perfectly happy to continue hand-stitching the final part of the quilting process.