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Banishing fear and trembling from the sewing room


The Martelli Zip Bind System and Stitch-n-Ditch Binder Foot




A video demo of the ZipBind system can be found on YouTube.


Quilting is such an emotional sport. For years, Iíve gotten a knot in my stomach when I think about bias binding and sewing machines. I can recall as a child trying to use one of those spiral metal sewing machine attachments that were supposed to act as an aid in attaching bias tape to the edge of fabric. Once I had spent hours trying to figure out how to feed the binding into the thing, I usually managed little more than to sew the binding to itself, failing to catch any fabric between the tape edges. Now, even as an adult, binding distresses me. Itís such mobile stuff. Pins donít always seem to deter it from crawling around, and when you try to stitch in the ditch for a subtle machine finish, you can almost hear that pesky binding laugh as the edge cleverly evades being caught by the needle. See, I told you quilting is emotional, and I clearly have issues with binding control.


Like most quilters, I love new gadgets. However, I also fear them. I have spatial issues and frequently fall into a state of consternation when faced with, shall we say, contraptions. By contraptions, I mean things that require assembly and adjustment and remembering where to place what when. And then thereís the parts issue. With five children, there were always missing Boba Fetts and Barbie shoes and little Batmen. So I distrust anything with multiple parts.


But still, I love gadgets and I really love a good live demo. So at Quilt Market in Houston last fall, when Linda Winner from Martelli ran the Zip Clip, Minute Miter, Zip Bind, and Stitch-n-Ditch foot (love those names) through their paces, I was fascinated. These relatively simple but clever contraptions were invented by the creative people at Martelli who apparently spend all their time thinking up ways for quilters to quilt faster, easier, and with fewer adverse side effects. Since I am like many quilters, and enjoy designing and piecing, but basically detest those pesky finishing steps (like binding) that require finesse, these gizmos not only make it easier but also put a little fun in the process.


These wonderful binding tools come in a nicely packaged set called the Zip Bind System, which contains everything you will ever need to conquer binding. Let me talk about each piece in turn. The Zip Clip tool replaces the irritating practice of pinning to hold your binding in place while you anchor it on one side using your sewing machine. Pinning is a venerable tradition, but there is no reason technology canít improve upon it, and the Zip Clip tool does that by actually shooting cute little clips onto your binding and holding them firmly with tiny jaws that also clamp onto your fabric. It took me a while and some spousal support to figure out how to load and work the little gun that looks sort of like half a clothespin. However, once I got the hang of it, I had a great time. Trust me, held by those little jaws, your binding is going nowhere, and the clips leave no holes in your fabric. The problem of binding crawling around when held by pins is over. These boys come in three sizes to accommodate different size bindings, and the clips are completely reusable. Simply slip them off the quilt and replace them in the gun.


The directions that come with the Minute Miter are clear, and the multiple sizes allow for crisp, perfect miters in a wide range of binding widths, from very thin to wider for a baby quilt. By sliding the Minute Miter onto the corner youíre mitering, and folding the binding into it in a particular way, you set up a perfect mitered corner to sew. Itís like having a second set of hands to hold everything in the right position and insure that your angles are crisp.


Okay, now that the binding is sewn onto the quilt, itís time for the hand sewing part. I have repetitive stress issues with my hands, so just thinking about the hand motions required to roll the binding to the back and secure it with pins (or rolling as I go so I donít get stuck with the aforementioned pins) gives me pain. Enter Technology to the rescue again, with the Zip Bind, another clever device that grabs, holds, and perfectly aligns your binding as you sew (and also relieves your hands of stress). Pins and pains are gone. The Zip Bind is a specially-designed metal and plastic adjustable spring clip that you attach over the edge of the quilt and the binding. Once you have it set up at the right width (from ľĒ out to a full inch) and firmly attached, you simply slide it along as you sew. The binding folds itself over perfectly and slides into the deviceís groove, maintaining an even width all the way down each side and around the corners. Whip away!


The last piece that comes in the Zip Bind system is the Sew-Mate, an all-purpose tool that serves as a seam ripper, a thread cutter, and a stiletto to guide small pieces of fabric through the sewing machine or hold them down while ironing (without burning your fingers!)


If you decide that youíd like to stitch-in-the-ditch to attach the edge to the back, thereís yet another invention the Martelli geniuses have come up with. This product is not a part of the Zip Bind system package, but can be purchased separately. The Stitch-n-Ditch Presser Foot will trap your renegade binding in its little track and allow you to stitch it down on your machine without pinning or basting. How cool is that? I really couldnít believe that it would work as well as it did. The foot will fit on virtually any sewing machine using a set of adapters that come with it. My problem with it was being strong enough to snap the connector piece to the body of the foot, so I had to request husband help. (Hint: for the many of you who have bought this product, the adaptors are numbered exactly the same as the Curvemaster adaptors. That plastic is sturdy, so donít be afraid to snap it down, but donít take a hammer to it or anything.) There are three different size ďfencesĒ (to corral your binding?) depending on the width of the binding. You feed the binding so it catches in the little track in the fence, and begin to sew. The first time I tried it, I snagged the binding with ease!


Certainly you can attach binding to your quilt without these inventions. You can also eschew take-out food and wash dishes by hand. Or you can join me and experience victory over binding once and for all!

The Martelli Stitch-n-Ditch and Zip Bind System are available at a discount in our store!

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