Scalloped Binding Instructions
Linda’s Scallop Directions for Dear Jane Friends
© Linda Franz February 1999
These instructions are very long and detailed, and will probably horrify you. 😀 They work. Step Number One is the most important. I cannot emphasize that enough.
The scalloped edge was a lot of work for me, but I think it adds something special to In Time of Friendship. If there is a three-step method (cut bias, sew onto curved edge, slip stitch to back???) that gives the same results I might have a nervous breakdown!
The scallop directions that I had available to me were very general. None of them mentioned chocolate at all! They were silent with regard to clipping into the pivot, when to ease, and when to stretch the bias, and how to put your life on hold for four to seven days, so you can scallop around the edge of a big quilt.
You can do this in only 27 easy steps.
1. Experiment on scraps.
THIS IS PROBABLY THE BEST TIP IN THIS WHOLE LONG LETTER. Experiment on scraps (top, batting and backing) before touching the quilt. It is absolutely necessary to practice making your scallops so they are uniform before you start.
2. Leave the edge of your quilt straight while you are quilting.
This is my second best tip! Do not cut your scallops until the very last moment—Step 17 and Step 19 below. Bias edges take on a life of their own.
3. Consider another binding!
This is my third best tip. If you are not sure that you can do a good scalloped edge, consider doing a simpler edge really well. A messy binding can detract unfairly from a great quilt!
I have read this far and I still want to proceed to Page 2.
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Scalloped Binding Instructions
Go back to page 1 ?
Now for the multiple, easy steps to making scallops!
4. Decide on the shape of your scallop.
Plates and bowls and kitchen items are handy for this and quilters knew this in 1799 and 1863 too. The shallower and wider your scallop, the easier it will be to pivot neatly at the inside points and get a smooth finish. On a replica of the Dear Jane quilt you have one scallop per 5″ triangle base, and a corner designed by Jane Stickle, which probably reflects the shape of some of her household items. The photo on the inside front cover of Dear Jane gives a close-up view.
The scallops on In Time of Friendship are about 6.5 inches wide.
5. Make a template of your shape with 1/4″ seam allowance added.
If the depth of your scallops is 1 3/4″ or less (mine was), draw the shape with a fine Pigma Micron marker on 2″ masking tape and add 1/4″ seam allowance. Make it 2 or 3 layers of tape thick, and long enough for about 4 perfect scallops. Show the stitching line and the 1/4″ seam allowance on your template. Carefully cut the outside curve on the masking tape. You will be tracing along this edge, so try to cut the curve accurately and smoothly. Try to keep the masking tape from sticking to everything while you do this. Chocolate helps, taken internally. Clean your scissors with nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol later. Do not take this internally. Do not mix this up! If you are making a scallop deeper than 2″, you might use layers of contact paper for the template instead. Be sure every scallop is identical to the others NOW!
6. Place your masking tape template into position on the quilt top and press it down firmly.
7. Trace the scallop edge onto your quilt top.
Use a fine Pigma Micron marker or mechanical pencil. This line will be used for placement of the edges of your bias binding. Keep moving your template around the quilt until all of the scallops are marked.
8. Decide on your corner treatment.
You can choose any shape that looks good to you–curves or right angles or anything else. Make your template and mark all four corners the same way.
The corners on “In Time of Friendship” are 90 degrees.
9. Do NOT cut the curves yet.
Your edge is still not cut in curves. Restrain yourself. 🙂
10. Machine stitch along the line you have just drawn, using a medium/large stitch and pivoting at the inside points.
Make sure that all of your layers are smooth and flat and that the batting will fill the binding. This stitching line is just to hold your top, batting and backing together and give you a guide for placing the raw edges of your bias binding. Consider using a contrasting thread if it will make it easier to see. It will be trimmed off later.
11. Make sure your batting will extend all the way to the outer edge of your binding.
Tuck in small bits if necessary to be sure the binding will be firm all the way around.
12. Double check that you are happy that all the layers (top-batting-backing) are smooth and pucker-free.
You cannot fix this later. If there are little bulges or ripples now, they will be worse later. Rip out some stitching and do it over if you need to.
13. Triple check that you are happy with the shape your edge will have.
This is really your last chance. The edge of your fabric is still straight. Do NOT cut the curves yet. VBG
I have read this far and I still want to proceed.
I need to see In Time of Friendship again before I decide.
I am afraid and I want to go home.
14. Cut the bias strips.
The narrower the bias, the easier it is to get a smooth, pucker-free binding. After several experiments with 1 3/4″ and 1 7/8″ I decided to cut my bias 1 1/2″ wide and fold it in half. For a quilt 89″ square I cut 8 strips the full width of the fabric. That takes the centre out of 1 1/2 yards of fabric and leaves two big triangles of “waste,” but it minimizes the number of seams in your binding. Allow extra binding so you can choose to place the seams away from the inner points and the extreme outer edges of scallops. It is preferable to have the seams in the binding part way up the curve.
15. Fold the bias strips in half and press, but do not sew the strips together yet.
A seam might come too close to a pivot or on the extreme outside of a curve where it could distort the look of the scallop compared to the neighboring ones.
16. Use a C-Thru ™ ruler and a mechanical pencil to gently mark a 3/16″ seam on the bias.
This is really a very scant 1/4″. If you sew a 1/4″ seam you will not have enough binding to cover the stitching line on the back of the quilt. The thickness of the quilt eats up the difference. You should not have to stretch the binding to cover the stitching line on the back.
17. You now have my permission to start cutting the scallops!
BUT ONLY 1/4″ away from the line you stitched on the quilt. In effect, this leaves you with 1/2″ seam allowance for now. You will trim again later. Try not to handle the bias edges too much.
18. Stitch the binding to the quilt along the marked seam line.
Place the edges of the bias binding against the stitched curve. Leave 6 or 8 inches of binding for joining with the last bias strip, and start stitching part way up a curve, a short distance from the pivot point so the seam in the bias will not end up at the pivot. Use the curved stitched line to guide the placement of the bias. The raw edges of the bias should just butt up against the stitched line on the quilt. The finer points a to e (below) about pivots, ease, clipping and joining of the bias strips will make a difference to the finished product. It takes a long time to sew the binding all the way around the quilt. You may need to fortify with chocolate first. Allow enough time. It will not pay to rush this job.
a) Pin the pivots! Before you approach an inner point, put a pin in the quilt top at the exact midpoint for the pivot so you can feel it through the bias and pivot at the right place. Keep moving the same pin around the quilt, one scallop ahead. It is the only pin you should need. Be careful not to make a tuck in the bias when you pivot The point of a stitch ripper can be used to hold the bias out of the way to prevent a tuck.
b) EASE the bias on the outside curve of each scallop. This will give you enough fabric for a smooth finish when you turn the bias binding to the back.
c) PULL GENTLY on the bias as you stitch the last inch into and out of the pivot point. You do not want any extra fabric at the inner point when you turn the bias binding to the back.
d) Clip as little as possible. Depending on the depth of your scallops you will probably find it necessary to make a tiny clip (about 1/8 inch only) into each inside point so you can manipulate the fabric around the pivot. Make this clip at the last moment (one scallop ahead) and as small as you can while still avoiding a tuck in the bias binding.
e) Join bias strips as necessary. Make sure you do not put a seam in the binding too close to where you will have to pivot. This will make it easier to turn the binding to the back neatly. Stop stitching the bias strip about 6 or 8″ from the end. To add the next bias strip, unfold both pieces of bias and overlap the ends at right angles, right sides together. Mark a line in pencil and stitch at 45 degrees across the ends, so that you have two small triangles to trim off. Leave a scant 1/4″ seam allowance and press open with your fingers before folding the bias in half again. Continue stitching the binding all the way around the quilt. To join the last seam, overlap the two folded pieces of bias exactly the total width of the bias (in my case 1 1/2″). Cut off the excess and join in the usual way. It works perfectly every time, but if you have never done this before, try it out on scraps first.
19. Trim the scallops!
Once all of the bias has been attached and you are ready to finish the binding, you may trim your scallops! Yes! Finally! If you are tired and you are going to wait a few days to finish, wait and do your trimming then. Go slowly, just cutting off the stitching line you used to guide the placement. Make sure you trim at the inner points uniformly, and without leaving extra bulk. If you can trim uniformly, you will find it much easier to get a consistent width in the binding when you turn the bias to the back.
20. Bar tack the clips.
My understanding is that the standard for scallops is to have one neat fold at the pivot point when you turn your bias binding to the back, similar to the identical folds in the binding on 90 degree corners of a quilt. The clip can cause the fabric to move too much and give extra puckers so I went around the whole quilt and bar-tacked each clip shut. You don’t need those clips anymore and they could work against you. It only takes a minute compared to the lifetime you already have invested in this project. It is up to you. This is a minor point and I don’t know anyone else who recommends it.
21. Triple check that you have batting in the seam allowance.
Add little shreds where you need it. This is the last time I will mention this! 😉
22. Zigzag around the edge of the quilt in the seam allowance.
This holds the seam allowances of the bias binding, the top, the batting and the backing together, so they stay flat and firm when you turn the binding to the back. If you don’t have a zigzag stitch on your machine you could whip stitch all of the layers together but it will take a lot longer. This step stabilizes the bias edges and avoids extra handling when you turn the bias to the back. I don’t know of anyone else who recommends this step but I think it helped me.
23. Turn the bias to the back of the quilt, making one small fold at each inner point, and baste in place.
This is a slow process.
24. Slip stitch the binding to the back of the quilt.
Use thread to match the color of the binding and make small stitches. The binding should cover the stitching line on the back and your stitches should not go through all the layers to show on the quilt top. At the inside points the binding edge will form a curve on the back. Allow a lot of time for this step. Even with everything firmly basted it took me 2 hours per side, and I thought I was moving well.
25. Remove the basting and admire your work!
Dance! Party! Celebrate! Write to me! Tell me all about it!
26. Eat chocolate!
If you have read this far and all this detail gives you a sick feeling, burn this and forget it. 😀 There are other binding methods for scallops!
27. Write to me!
If you use this method, please let me know.