Attaching your binding by machine can be one of the hardest ways to attach your binding neatly. Especially on smaller projects. I will say 9 times out of 10, I will sew the binging on to the back of my quilts by hand, with an invisible stitch, or Jacob Ladder stitch, as it is sometimes called. Love this stitch! It makes for a beautiful finish, but sometimes a project requires binding to be added by machine for what ever the reason. Or maybe you just hate hand stitching and prefer to do it by machine. That's fine, do what is comfortable for you.
First, square up your quilt. It really does make a world of difference. I have a big 17" square ruler that I bought to use for some t-shirt quilts I did a while back. Now, I love it for squaring up the corners of my quilt. It works great, and for smaller projects I can use it to square up the whole thing. For larger quilts I will square up the corners using this, then my regular cutting ruler to do the rest.
Ok, so here is something that is considered a huge no, no by some, but if you are lucky enough if to have a nice finish edge... use it! Why not? It is not going to unravel and it will reduce the bulk in your binding. Of course, not all fabric has a nice finished edge. If that is the case leave yourself enough room to sew it on the diagonal later. I know, that seems like a pain, but it will lay flatter than a straight seam.
Since I have a nice finished edge, I am going to lay that down first and leave about 2 or 3 inches before I start stitching. If I didn't have this nice finished edge I would have pinned the binding to the quilt for about 10 inches, before I started to stitch. That way there I could join the beginning to the end with a nice diagonal seam later.
Then, I am going to sew all the way down to my first corner, stopping just before I get to the edge (less then a 1/4"), fold your binding straight up with a diagonal crease, and then....
...straight down. Now when you start stitching again, you are going to have to feel around and find where your corners meet, then start stitching there. Do that for all 4 corners and sew till you are almost to where you started.
Place your raw edge into your finished edge and top stitch to secure.
Now this step is where I am going to add a little work for myself but I feel it is worth my time. This is the step where you are going to want to pay attention to the details.
When I am machine sewing my binding to my quilt top I pin my binding to the back, on the top, in the ditch. Understand? If not see picture above. I do this because I sew in the ditch on the top of my quilt not on the back, but I want to make sure the stitch is straight and neat looking on the back too. Details, Details. Taking the time to pin it all the way around lets me see where my stitches are going to fall on the back, before I start sewing. If I need to make any adjustments, I can make them now instead of having to pick out stitches, (or add any stitches) later. I like it to look like one continuous stitch all the way around. That being said, don't forget to make sure you have enough thread in the bobbin, and the right color.
Note: On larger quilts I sometimes use safety pins instead of regular straight pins, so, I don't stick myself along the way.
See doesn't she look pretty?
Now, I would like to hear from you. Do you have a favorite binding trick that you like to use? Do you use those clips instead of pins to secure your binding? Do they work well for you? Do you sew your binding by hand? Or always by machine?