Last night I sewed the binding onto the Jacob's Ladder I'm working on, and I took photos to show how to use the Fons & Porter binding tool, which is really an excellent tool for perfectly fitting binding. But there is a trick that isn't mentioned in the instructions. Here are some photos of the process.
Step 1. Leave about 8 inches unsewn at the beginning when attaching the binding, and stop sewing the binding when there is about a 12" opening. I do not trim the extra batting/backing until the binding has been completely sewn on, but that's up to you - it makes no difference in the use of the tool. Face the quilt so that the open spot is in front of you and the body of the quilt is on your table. Trim the right edge of the loose binding so that it ends in the middle of the open edge.
Step 2. Lay the binding tool on the edge of the strip, so that the words "Fons & Porter" are on the right and the left edge of the tool is on the very edge of the binding.
Step 3. Take the left binding strip and lay it over the binding tool. You will fold it at the marking line that matches the width of your binding. Mine was 2 1/2", so you can see the binding folded at the 2 1/2" mark. Trim the binding at the fold.
Step 4. MOST IMPORTANT STEP IN THE WHOLE PROCESS. The binding wants to lie flat against the body of the quilt. But you must take the right-hand binding and fold it down, away from the body of the quilt. Pin it where the stitching ends so that it will stay folded down.
Step 5. Write about Step 4 on the instructions that come with the tool so that you don't forget next time!
Step 6. Open up each binding strip and lay them together, with right sides facing. Align the raw edges and pin them together. You will have to bunch the quilt up a bit in the open space - that's fine.
Step 7. Lay the binding tool over the binding segments and align the diagonal line marked on the tool with the raw edges of the binding.
Step 8. Use a sharp pencil to draw a line against the bottom of the tool, making a 45 degree stitching line.
Step 9. Stitch. If you are still skeptical and subscribe to the "measure twice, cut once" school of thought, baste it and test as shown in Step 10 below. Then stitch it once you are sure it will join nicely.
Step 10. Before you trim the seam allowance, check to make sure nothing is twisted and that the binding will lay flat. (This is where I kept running my head into the wall before I found the $20 solution - it would just not lay flat and was twisted every which way.)
Step 11. Trim. Finger press the seam open and continue sewing the binding down along the open space.
Step 12. Pour yourself a stiff drink and celebrate, admiring your perfect binding!
I hope this is a useful tutorial for you if you have bought this tool and had trouble making it live up to its promise. I do find that it makes perfect bindings, now that I know to pin that piece down. Good luck - I'm not a professional quilting maven, so cannot take any kind of responsibility if you chop your fingers off! This is my first tutorial, so if you think it is confusing please let me know and I'll try to fix it up!
P.S. The binding for that Jacob's Ladder is all basted and ready to be sewn on tonight - I'll do the big reveal tomorrow.