Thursday, July 24, 2014

Machine Binding 101

Binding quilts is not my favorite thing to do. The only time I really enjoy it is if I have tons of time and a good movie playing. A couple of diet Mountain Dews helps too.... For a long time I viewed binding as a lot of hand stitching, but lately I have gotten into machine binding my quilts. I almost prefer to bind quilts this way.... almost.... there are times I still hand stitch my binding down after the initial sewing it onto the quilt. The fun thing about machine binding is the decorative edge it leaves. Sometimes a quilt, or table runner screams for the extra touch of decorative stitches. 

Now, grab something to drink and snack on, this is going to be a bit of a long posting.... if you like my tutorial, remember to pin it for future use.... so here goes.... machine binding 101
When you are done quilting all your layers together you are then ready to bind your quilt! When I machine bind I do a small narrow zig zag around the edge of my quilt (or table runner). Keep in mind your stitching needs to be 'less' then a 1/4" from the edge. (You don't want it to show when you are done attaching your binding when you are done.)
Then trim off all of the excess backing and batting....
For this project I am using a black seam binding made from 2 1/4" strips by wof, ironed in half lengthwise.
Line up your binding along the raw edge on the backside of your quilt, yes, the backside,  leave about a 6" tail and then start sewing a 1/4" seam. 
Stop your sewing a 1/4" from the edge.
Pull your quilt out from under the sewing machine foot. I give myself just enough space to work. Fold back the binding back on itself to create a 45 degree angle. Make sure the raw edge of the binding aligns with the raw edge of the quilt.
Then fold the binding back down upon quilt with the fold at the upper edge of the corner. You are making a mitered corner.
Stitch a 1/4" seam, backstitch for added strength. Sew until you reach a 1/4" from the corners edge. Then miter the corner as shown above. Continue to sew until you make it around your quilt... stop and leave a 'tail' and at least a 6-7" gap.
Here my 'tails' are shown.... and my 'gap'
Pin the beginning and ending tails until they meet 'halfway' lining up the raw edges... Make a very small clip with your scissors where all the layers of the binding meet. Take out the pins...
Open the ends of the binding up and put right sides together at right angles aligning the clip marks with the edges of the strips. Pin. Draw a stitching line from corner to corner.
Stitch on the line and then remove pins. Before you trim away the excess fabric, make sure the binding fits in place.
Trim away excess.
Pin in place and sew... remember a 1/4" seam.
All sewn...
Now it's time to machine sew your binding in place. 
Fold your binding edge from the back to the front of the quilt, lining the edge of your binding with the sewing line.
Wonder Clips come in really handy to hold your binding in place as you sew. They also hold mitered corners nicely in place while you sew along.
I am using a buttonhole stitch, matching the size to some decorative stitching I had already done on the quilt.
I sew the 'straight' stitch of the buttonhole stitch in the 'ditch' of the quilt and the binding. Don't go too fast while you stitch. I find it easier to keep it all straight if I go a little slower, it's still a lot faster than hand stitching it all down.
Here's how my stitch looks on the top of my quilt...
Keep sewing all around until you're back at the beginning!
Here's how my binding turned out. I used brown thread because it matched the other stitching that I did, I used a cream bobbin thread, although I could have used black. It still looks pretty good.
I hope you enjoyed my tutorial on machine binding a quilt. It is fun to do, and you can experiment with different types of decorative stitches to add a little flair to your finished quilts. 
Let's bind some quilts!

Happy quilting,


  1. Thank you! Hand binding takes way too long and isn't so good for my wrist. Do you reduce your pressure foot pressure? I tried my walking foot and it wasn't so good, I'll try your method next.

  2. I always bind my quilts by machine, but haven't tried the buttonhole stitch, yet! Thanks for sharing - you binding looks great.

  3. I never thought to do a buttonhole or fancy stitch... Thanks

  4. I love that you cheat like me! Who has time to hand sew binding....Love it

  5. I like this look and saving time is a good incentive! I'm going to try this on my next binding. Thanks!