How to Finish a Quilt

Once you’re done with your quilt top, it can be tricky to know what to do next. In fact, many quilters get stumped when it comes to finishing a quilt.

It also doesn’t help that there are several different ways to do so, leaving you with serious decision paralysis. To make it easier for you to choose, we put together this guide that will talk a little bit about the various finishing techniques available and which one is best for which situation. So here is the rundown!

Different ways to finish a quilt

As we said before, there are several finishing techniques out there. While some people just finish their quilts by hand, others use sewing machines. Moreover, some people add some binding to their quilt while others couldn’t care less, something that heavily impacts your finishing options. 

How to finish a quilt by hand

finish a quilt

If you choose to finish your quilt by hand, there are several methods you can use. For instance, you may decide to hand-tie your quilt. Basically, this involves passing a piece of thread through all the layers of your quilt, pulling it out on the same side, and tying a knot to keep the spot in place. 

These knots are usually 4 to 5 inches apart and are very effective in adding texture to a quilt. When done on fluffy quilts, they create a beautiful tufted appearance. To properly tie your quilt, you can use ribbon, yarn, floss, or Perle cotton. You also need a curved tapestry needle. Once you decide where you want your ties to be, you should thread your needle and start creating them. 

Alternatively, you can use handmade straight stitches, cross stitches, or satin stitches to finish your quilt. Before you make your cross stitches, mark x spots on your fabric to indicate where you want your stitches to be. After that, thread your needle and make your first stitch along one of the lines of your X mark. Finally, pass your needle through the tip of the second line and finish your cross stitch.

If you want the quilt top and back to mirror each other, ensure you repeat the same process for your quilt back. But if you’re looking for something easier, you should go for the satin stitches. I personally like how elegant and cute they look while still being so easy to create on both sides of your quilt.

However, if even this fails, you can always count on good old straight stitches. It may take you a while to hand stitch several lines of straight stitches, but it definitely gets the job done. 

How to finish a quilt with a sewing machine

Understandably, many quilters choose to finish their quilts using a sewing machine. It provides more accuracy and requires less effort than hand finishing. All you have to do is create an array of stitches either in a straight line or in a grid and you’re good to go. As long as you have a reliable walking foot, this should be a pretty easy task, especially if you’re dealing with small throws and mini quilts.

Interestingly, you can even create some ties on your quilt using a sewing machine. It is rather cumbersome though, especially when you’re working on a large quilt. As such, if you’re working on a super huge quilt, it is best to send it to a long arm quilter. Your fellow quilters probably know a few that they can recommend you to.

How to finish a quilt without binding

In the absence of binding, you can still finish your quilt quite effectively. You just have to ensure that the backing is bigger than the top fabric. After placing it on a flat surface, lay the complete quilt on it with its right side facing down. At this point, ensure both the backing and quilt are aligned and then secure them with some pins.

Last but not least, measure a seam allowance of around 1.4 inches and sew all around to attach the quilt and backing together. However, ensure you leave a gap on one side of the seam. This will come in handy when you want to turn the fabric inside out once you’re done with the stitching.

It’s also a good idea to trim the edges, secure them, and even iron the final product. This all helps to prevent fraying. Once you turn the quilt right side out, just stitch the gap shut and you’re good to go. Due to the hassle involved with turning the quilt right side out, this method is preferable for small quilts. 

How to finish a quilt without batting

If you just don’t want to use any batting in your quilt, worry not. You can still create a pretty good finish. For instance, you can opt for tying, even though at this point it doesn’t seem necessary since you have no loft at all. However, it would definitely add some character to your piece.

Alternatively, you can choose to sew the sides together. For best results, put the right sides together, and sew along the edges, leaving a small gap at the end through which you can turn your quilt right side out. To further secure the quilt and possibly even give it some character, you can add  ¼” stitching around the edges of the quilt after turning it right side out.

Interestingly, you don’t even have to finish quilts that don’t have any batting. If you follow this route, you’ll just have to be careful when washing them. 

Ultimately, the best way to finish a quilt depends on its structure, use, and the quilter’s preference. So as you decide whether or not your quilt will have batting or binding, keep in mind how it will affect your finishing options!

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