How close to the edge of a quilt should your quilting stitches get? My gauge is no closer than 1/4". You need a little bit of space to trim, if necessary, when squaring up the quilt after quilting is completed and before putting the binding on.
Getting too close to the edge with your quilting stitches will cause you to cut through the stitching when you trim your quilt. If this does happen, and it did to me, here's what you can do to secure those loose ends.
There was a 10" area on one side of the quilt where I had nicked the quilting stitches. I noticed this when I was working on the binding. I always machine sew the open edge of the binding to the quilt, then hand sew the folded edge to the back of the quilt. So, before hand sewing the binding in place, I went back over this area with my walking foot, using a short stitch length and back-stitching where the thread ends were. This really helped "lock down" those thread ends and gave added stability to the one seam where the binding is stitched to the quilt. Without this security, the thread ends would eventually pull up to the quilt surface and the quilt stitches would come undone.
If you take your quilt to a long arm quilter, ask how they quilt the edge of a quilt. Some begin their stitching off the quilt (on the batting/backing area) to check their tension, then move onto the border to begin quilting; likewise, when they finish a quilting line they stitch back off the edge. I've seen this several times when a client brings a quilt for binding. To avoid cutting through the stitches when you trim the quilt edges, you will want to pick some of those early stitches and get a length of thread tail that you can knot off and bury into the quilt batting.
I generally start my quilting inside the surface of the quilt, and use one of the "ditches" to begin my stitching so there are no starts/stops close to the edge. My threads are on the top of the quilt where I can see them. After I am done with a line of quilting, I thread both threads into a hand sewing needle, poke it through to the back of the quilt, knot the thread a couple of times close to the stitches, bury them into the batting and cut the thread ends.
Copyright ©2014, Sharon Baggs