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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Quilt Binding by Machine {a tutorial}

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.

Usually I don't cut my binding on the bias.  *I know, gasp!*  The only time I cut binding on the bias is when I am working with curves, then I find it worth my time.  Other than that, I have never had a problem with the strait 2 1/2" strips that I use.  I will, however still join my strips on the diagonal.  Again, this will help disperse the bulk. 

Next, I will iron all my seams flat and then, and iron my binding in half, wrong side together.

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?


  1. I love the tip for pinning! I tend to hand stitch binding, but when I do machine sew it, I go by "feel". I don't pin it, and just fold as I go-which either looks great or terrible. :P Love this tip, I'm going to try this!!

  2. I sew my bindings to the back by hand, both because I prefer the finished look and because I enjoy the hand stitching. Your binding looks so neat though, I think I'm going to give this a try. 'Cause sometimes you just need a quick finish so you can cut into the new fabric that is calling to you :) thank you for the tutorial

  3. Bindings are the bain of my exsistance. Of course, i don't have that much practice...(I believe both of these have to do with my lack of patience though :) Thanks for the great tips! :)

  4. I'm learning about quilting little by little by seeing all these snippets and tutorials here and there. It's making it all seem less scary - and maybe I'll actually try making one myself sometime!!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a great week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  5. Thanks for the binding tutorial. I have only machine stitched binding once. I attached to the back and brought it over to the front to sew down with a ladder stitch. I hated it. I actually enjoy hand stitching the binding to the back. I use binding clips (Dollar Store hair clips) to hold the binding in place. Your method looks good so I'll give it a try.

  6. Thanks for the tutorial! I bookmarked it because I have a quilt project coming up and haven't decided yet if i want to hand-sew the binding or not.

  7. Great tip about the pinning, thank you. I have tried various machine binding methods and haven't been happy with any of them, but this is very different from most ways I've seen. I will definitely give it a try sometime!

  8. I use that method for machine stitching down waistbands and facings etc on garments but I never have the patience to put all those pins in for doing it on a quilt. Guess I should try it on one of my smaller quilting projects!

  9. Wow, that looks amazing! I'm pinning this. :)

  10. I had some orphan blocks laying around, so I turned them into potholders today and used your tutorial to bind one of them. I was just too lazy to bind the others :) The binding went on easily and neatly - two of my corners were beautiful, two not so much. But looking over your photos again, I see you pinned the corners diagonally. (because, when I say I used your tutorial today, what I really mean is I went from memory so I didn't have to turn on the laptop) I think this would definately solve my corner issues next time. Thanks for the great tutorial - I will be using it again for sure :)

  11. Love your quilt. Looks beautiful.

  12. I make a lot of charity quilts and need to bind by machine, rather than by hand, otherwise I'll never get them done. This is a great tutorial. Thanks.

  13. Bindings are the topper to every quilt. I feel the hand finishing makes your quilt even more of you


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