Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In which I finish a wall hanging with much pain involved

All you quilters out there who say you love hand-binding quilts....WHY?
Perhaps it's more accurate to say that hand-binding is awesome and fun as long as you're not pregnant?

I was originally going to use a picnic table-esque red gingham for the border, but I found this fabric at the store instead and thought it worked much better, especially with the rest of my kitchen color scheme, which you totally can't see in this photo at all. 

So I've had this hourglass wall hanging all quilted and such for about a week now. It was the first time I've used a walking foot to quilt (initial skepticism: Will it REALLY help my lines be straighter? Oh wow, YES, it will!) and I was pretty proud of my quilting job, especially when it helped hide most of my mismatched points. Then I had to bind. I'd chosen a nice deep maroon Kona solid color as the binding, then realized I only had white cotton thread and I didn't want white machine stitches showing up on the front, taking away from the beautiful binding color. So, hey, hand-binding's not supposed to be THAT bad, right?

You see, I have pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome, and it's especially bad in my right hand. It's a huge pain in the butt. I have to wear a wrist brace while sleeping, or I'll wake up in the middle of the night with my entire right arm numb. My right middle and ring fingers go numb when I drive. I've even switched to using my computer mouse with my left hand because my right hand falls asleep after about five minutes of use. Naturally, I thought of none of this when I whipped out a needle and sat down to hand-bind.

Of course my first few stitches sucked. After a bit, I got into the rhythm of things and it didn't look too bad...but my fingertips on my right hand started falling asleep. After a couple more stitches, my wrist began screaming in pain. Because I'm stubborn, I pressed on and started stabbing through the fabric into the fingers of my left hand. I stopped for the night.

Mostly invisible stitch. What's really invisible is the pain that went into every stitch. 

The next day I got about five minutes into binding when my hand started to go numb in some parts, painful in others, once again. It took me three days of on-and-off hand binding to bind a 24"X24" quilt because my right hand would NOT cooperate. And yes, for three days I refused to drive to the fabric store just to pick up thread that matched my binding because if I started hand binding, I was going to FINISH hand binding even if my hand fell off in the process.

On the plus side, this was the first quilt I got to use my walking foot on. Hey, my lines are a lot straighter than before and totally help camouflage my mismatched points! Who would have known?!

The result is a sort of wonky-looking binding that, nevertheless, I like since you can't (well, ideally) see the stitching on the back. However, I am SO not hand binding anything for at least the rest of this pregnancy. Sewing machine, I love you.


  1. Thanks for convincing me not to try hand binding! I have been machine stitching my bindings on my quilts because I have no idea how to hand sew, and although this method is not perfect I agree with you that it is much less painful!

  2. As much as I'd like to say I will try hand-binding again after my pregnancy, I think this experience scared me off of it for a long, long, while! It probably doesn't help that I'm an impatient person and machine-binding is so fast!

  3. Hello! Stopping by from the Mug Rug/Goodie Swap, and I am SO with you on not enjoying hand binding!!! I don't even have any added pregnancy related pain to deal with. I am totally amazed that my 87 year old grandmother still binds her own quilts. It took me as long to do the binding on my mug rug as it took me to plan, cut and quilt the whole front and back ;-) I typically only make minky backed baby quilts (no binding, wahoo!), and now I remember why, lol! Best wishes to you for the rest of your pregnancy!