Pollyanna Rainbow Sunshine’s Quilt-Finishing Tutorial – Now with 50% More Wine!

Lyda here. Last weekend I finished two quilts. And there was much rejoicing.

Lookee, pictures! Our model today is Tommy the Sith Apprentice Cat. He works for tuna. Have your people call his people. Wait, I’m his people. Sorry the pics aren’t better; I took them with a disposable camera. In a week or so, Anna-Liza has promised to post some pics of the quilts in their new home, and hopefully they’ll be better. Plus we might get a glimpse of the young princes. Extreme Cuteness Warning!

But I digress…

The quilts were almost done; here’s a shot of the last of the tying-off of one of the quilts. All I had left to do was bind the edges. And remove the bathing cat.


Hey, I’m busy here, lady. It takes work to be this gorgeous.

Here’s the back of the Cosmic Prince Quilt:


For these quilts, I used the backing – which I made larger than the quilt top – to create the bound edges of the quilts. And I thought, why not write it out as a tutorial, to get extra blog hits  in case anyone needs to know.

Imagine you are making a quilt. You have already pinned the layers together using upty gillion big safety pins. Possibly you have had to unpin and repeat this last step because of feline assistance. You have already either quilted the layers together, or tied the quilt together.

You have NOT removed the safety pins if you tied the quilt. They help keep the layers together while you are finishing the edges. If you quilted the quilt, you probably already removed the pins as you did the quilting. If you quilted an elaborate design, you don’t really need my assistance for the finishing. Also, can you quilt my next quilt for me?

Also, you could use quilting straight pins (which are extra long) to pin the layers together, but you will stab yourself a million billion times. And bleed on the fabric. And your feline assistant will get poked. This is never good for the quilter or the quilt.

Not to mention the cat.


I used to use straight pins and I have the scars to prove it. Not all scars are from the pins. Safety pins are better.

But I digress again…

Here’s what to do next:

  1. Spread the quilt out, quilt top up, on the floor.
  2. Sigh and think how much you hate this damned thing. Resist the urge to throw it in the oven and hit “broil.” Remind yourself that you are almost done. Try to remember that there was a time when you liked this fabric, this pattern, this quilt. This damned never-ending quilt.
  3. Ignore the vast quantities of cat hair stuck to the fabric. Um, what cat hair?img015.jpg
  4. Drink a large quantity of the caffeinated beverage of your choice. Turn on the TV. Wonder why there is never anything good on.
  5. Now look at the quilt. See the backing fabric sticking out around the edges? Yes, it’s there, under the batting. This is going to be your binding, which will fold over onto the front of the quilt and be sewn down.
  6. Notice that the amount of backing sticking out varies on the different sides of the quilt.
  7. Curse.
  8. Drink some more caffeine and ponder the options. Yes, you could unpin the layers and reposition the fabrics. You could even sew additional fabric around the edge of the quilt top, as a border. Which would involve ironing. Ironing. Shudder.
  9. Sigh. Curse again. Drink more caffeine. Change TV channels and try to find something decent to watch. Wonder if it is too early for wine.
  10. Decide to do the edges with the fabric as is, wide borders be damned.
  11. Find the part of the quilt with the least amount of backing fabric sticking out. Warning – this involves measuring. This is very important. You don’t want to be blipping along and discover, as you round the turn onto the last side of the quilt, that your three-inch border needs to be a two-inch border. Ask me how I know.
  12. Now, at this Depressing Spot of Least Backing Fabric, fold the edge of the backing forward one inch (wrong side to wrong side) and pin with quilting straight pins. You are not folding the fabric over the quilt front at this point. You are creating a one-inch fold-under so the raw edges will not unravel later.
    • You could do this part on the ironing board and press the fabric to hold this crease. 
    • Unless you hate ironing with a passion that sears. In which case, you will just pin. Guess what I did? Yup.
  13. Now, more measuring. Measure the distance from the edge of the quilt top fabric to the fold you just made.
  14. Let’s say it’s six inches. This is good – you will be able to have a three-inch binding all around this quilt without covering up much of the quilt top. 
  15. If you only have two inches, you will have to fold the binding fabric up farther, possibly covering up part of the quilt top. If you don’t like how this looks, you will have to add fabric for a border and/or binding to the quilt top.
  16. Repeat step 9.
  17. Decide that if it means you can be done with the thing today, you love how it looks with the backing covering up part of the quilt top.
  18. Now, measuring six inches from the edge of the quilt top, fold and pin the rest of the side of the quilt you are working on, so that the binding is an even six inches all along that side. The part you have folded over may be more than one inch in places – that’s okay.
  19. Now, in the middle of this side of the quilt, fold the backing fabric in half so that it overlaps onto the quilt top and pin in place. Just do about six inches – don’t do the whole side yet.
  20. Eat a piece of chocolate. Decide if you like how the edging looks.
  21. Realize that there is too much batting, which makes the edge too fat.
  22. Unpin the six inches (now you are glad you didn’t do the whole side).
  23. Trim the batting a bit in this spot, and try it again. Do this until you get a thickness that you like for the edging.
  24. Now measure the width of the batting in this spot, from the quilt top edge.
  25. Trim the batting all along this side to this width. Be very careful to not cut the backing fabric while doing this. Do not cut the carpet either. Or the cat.
  26. Rub your knees and have another piece of chocolate. Vow to never again make a quilt too big to fit on the dining table.
  27. Drink more caffeine. Promise to buy a big cutting table. Ignore the batting fluff that is now everywhere.
  28. Turn the quilt and find the middle of another side. 
  29. Measure six inches from the edge of the quilt top, and fold and pin the backing fabric (wrong side to wrong side).
  30. Trim the batting to the width you trimmed it for the first side of the quilt.
  31. Repeat steps 26 through 28 with the other two sides.
  32. Decide to buy knee pads at least.
  33. Starting in the middle of one of the longest sides, turn the backing fabric up and over onto the quilt top, measuring to make sure it is three inches (or whatever you have determined it should be). Pin in place.
  34. Make sure the batting is not showing. You can tuck the batting into that 1″ fold in the backing fabric that you made way back in step 12.
  35. Working toward one end, continue folding, measuring and pinning. Leave the end unpinned for now. Go back to the middle and do the same until you get to the other end.
  36. Repeat steps 32 & 33 on the other three sides.
  37. Stare at the corners.
  38. Decide you don’t care what the clock says, it’s definitely time for wine.
  39. Find wine and glass. Pour and drink. Repeat as needed.
  40. Fold the corners somehow. Cursing helps. (Also, see #57.)
  41. Drag the whole quilt to the sewing machine.
  42. Detach cat from quilt.
  43. Begin stitching the binding in place, about 1/4″ from where the quilt top and binding meet.
  44. Run out of bobbin thread. Curse. Drink. Wind new bobbin.
  45. New bobbin in place, continue stitching.
  46. Break the needle. Curse. Drink more wine. Replace needle.
  47. Dislodge cat from folds of quilt so you can turn the corner.
  48. Continue stitching, fending off cat as you go.
  49. Break another needle. Curse more. Drink more. Replace needle.
  50. Finally finish stitching the binding once.
  51. Stitch around the binding again, really close to the edge this time.
  52. Dislodge cat again. Wash and dry the quilt.
  53. Repeat process with second quilt the next day.
  54. Resolve to never ever work on two quilts at once again.
  55. Never.
  56. Spread quilts out for photographing. Take lots of pictures, cat model optional.
  57. Fall in love with quilts all over again. Wonder how you can possibly give them up. Force family and friends to admire at length. Decide you want to keep them and pet them and name them George. And Fred.
  58. Ship quilts to worthy receipents anyway. Best friend. Quilts three years in the making. Time to let go.
  59. Be amazed that the box weighs over 12 pounds.
  60. One week later, read an easier way to bind a quilt online, including the way to miter the corners if you prefer. Yes, this site has actual tutorials and free patterns and other stuff. Although the cursing and drinking are somehow missing… Weird.
  61. Pout. Curse. Drink. Knit.
  62. Resolve to never quilt again.
  63. The next day, fall in love with new pattern in quilting book from library.
  64. Begin planning new quilt.
  65. But it will be much much smaller! And only one! It won’t take very long to make… No, really! 

With great pleasure (and even greater relief), I present the quilts. 

The Cosmic Prince Quilt:


The Frog Prince Quilt:



5 thoughts on “Pollyanna Rainbow Sunshine’s Quilt-Finishing Tutorial – Now with 50% More Wine!

  1. mintlatte

    Lyda!!! those are fantastic!! I love how they are similar but different….I am sure the boys will love tham….boys are way more blankety than the girls in my family…..
    I know how tired you can get of a project after looking at it for a while… I think your fabric choices are great….

  2. lyda Post author

    Thanks, mintlatte! Since the boys share a room, I wanted the quilts to relate to each other but be different, so I used the same size squares and repeated one of the fabrics in both quilts (the medium yellow-gold). Now that I’m done, I do love the quilts again. And the fabrics – picking out fabric is one of my favorite parts of quilting. An artist friend helped me pick the fabric out – she pushed me to make bold choices, and she was right.

  3. annaliza

    I’m hoping they get here today! And you know, extraneous cat hair isn’t a problem. Moxie will be happy to add to the collection. And the boys are used to it by now.

  4. lyda Post author

    They are supposed to arrive today. You must post pictures soon. Moxie will probably love the Tom Cat smell – he slept on the Cosmic Quilt a lot after I washed it.

  5. Mary

    I thought you’d NEVER get to the wine!
    I love your instructions. It’s incredible how much we think alike in working on projects!
    Thanks for the laughs, and keep falling in love with those quilts.


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