I’m currently working on a piece with an irregular edge and am happy with the method I’ve been using. Before the steps shown below I have already machine quilted from the center out to within a few inches of the desired finished edge of the piece (as if I were going to finish with traditional binding). I use washable marker to adjust as I go and finalize the edge as it may change a bit after the quilting, especially when using a mix of fabrics. Do not trim to desired edge but leave at least an inch or so of quilt top, batting (here two layers of flannel), and quilt back to work with to finish this no binding finishing of the quilt edge. I always wash my quilts, so I think washable markers are great.
On the quilt top, mark the line of desired finish edge with washable marker. Press firmly here and there along the line with a dot so that the ink bleeds through to the batting layer below.
Use the dot on the batting to mark the line of desired finish edge.
Cut only the batting layer on the marked line, being very careful you are only cutting the batting!
With the quilt laying face down, wrap the quilt top around the batting layer, using the marked line as a guide for the desired edge. Baste if necessary to hold in place.
Fold the quilt back fabric under and appliqué stitch about 1/8 to 1/4 inch from finish edge to secure.
Use the same method to mark, trim batting, fold and stitch a shifting edge.
Now I will need to go back and machine quilt all these shifting edges.
In the past, I used the pillowcase no binding method to create shaped or shifting edges but on larger pieces would run into trouble when mixing fabrics. The method I’m using in this post solves the problems I was having and helps the quilt lay flat in the end, despite any mixed fabric personalities. I think the machine quilting of most of the quilt from the center almost to the edge and then adjusting desired edge as necessary before beginning the above steps is also key to this method. I’m ready to try big curved and shaped edges now!
Washable Markers: Use a marker color similar to the fabric color when possible when marking the quilt top. In my experience it works best to massage the washable marker out of the finished quilt in a large pot/tub of water rather than trusting it to a washing machine. This way you can gently work stubborn areas with your finger tips to work the ink free. Sometimes the markings are a bit stubborn where they’ve been stitched over. Then, I put the quilt in the machine for a rinse/spin cycle, and then into the dryer.
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