When the quilting process is finished, there’s another step that needs to be done before binding and that is squaring up the quilt top.
If you have your quilt done by a longarmer, they may send it back untrimmed. This is how we send back quilts.
For my own quilts, I like to use long shears and do an initial trim of the excess backing and batting. If there’s a lot to trim off, I’ll drape it over something like my longarm frame.
Once I have the top trimmed, then it’s time to square the quilt for binding. Why do we square it up? Isn’t the trim with scissors enough?
Well, depending on the quilt top and the quilting, it may have been pulled out of line, or have wavy edges from full borders. Even a perfectly square top after quilting will still need to be squared up for accuracy and so it hangs straight and drapes nicely. It also helps the binding process go more smoothly.
This quilt is an example of one I didn’t square up.
I use a rotary cutter with a fresh blade, and my largest ruler. I have a 16.5″ square ruler, which is great for the corner, but for the rest of the quilt, a 6″ by 24″ is a great one to use. Use a large cutting mat, and for very large bed sized quilts, I will do this on the floor, where the bulk of the quilt is resting and slide the mat as I go.
Begin at one corner and line up your ruler so it is as even as possible with both edges. If the edges are very wonky or not square, I try and line it up with an inner edge or inside border seam as a guide.
Trim both sides of this corner with the rotary cutter. It’s okay if you trim off some basting stitches along the edge.
Work your way up one side of the quilt, sliding your ruler up and lining it up with the previous cut. I overlap this a bit to keep it as straight and true as possible.
When I get close to the next corner, I square up that corner and correct that side if needed. Note in the picture below, the inside border edge isn’t straight anyway!
Turn the quilt and work your way up the second side to the next corner, square that, and so on. It seems like you may be trimming off tiny slivers, but it really does help the end result.
When you get back to the corner where you started, you should be able to line up with the previous cut and make any needed corrections.
Now your quilt is squared up and you are ready to bind! You can baste down the edges if you like but it is not required.
This one is all ready for binding! Isn’t it pretty?