Machine Quilt Binding Tutorial

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I used to hate binding quilts! I had a stack of quilts bigger than I will admit just sitting in the corner awaiting that one final step. Then one day I decided I needed to bite the bullet and get them done. Since that day, I've made over 50 quilts! I have figured out a binding method that works for me and now I enjoy it just as much as the rest of the quilt-making process! I know there are already a lot of tutorials out there for how to bind a quilt by machine, but if you're like me, none of them seemed to work just quite right. Please use what works best for you! Most of the choices I make when binding a quilt are to make the process as quick, easy, and painless as possible. I hope this tutorial helps you find joy in the final step in the quilt-making process too!


How to bind a quilt by machine tutorial


How to Machine Bind a Quilt

I start by cutting my binding strips 2 1/2" wide by width of fabric (WOF). This is called cutting straight-of-grain. I use straight-of-grain strips for every quilt that is square or rectangular. They are quick and easy to cut, and they use the fabric efficiently. (I only use bias strips if I am binding scalloped edges or curved corners. Directions for bias strips are not in this tutorial.)

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Sew strip ends together. Lay strips right sides together and stitch 1/4" from the end.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Press seams open. (This reduces bulk at the seams. An alternative is to sew the seams at a 45 degree angle. Straight seams and pressing open are faster.)

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Press strips in half lengthwise. (This type of binding is called double fold binding.)

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Align the raw edge of the binding with the raw edge of the front of the quilt. Begin at a spot in the middle of one side of the quilt. Begin sewing about 10" from the binding end (leave it loose like a tail). Use a walking foot to stitch 1/4" from the edge of the quilt.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

When approaching a corner, stop stitching 1/4" away from the next side.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Lift the needle and presser foot. Pull the quilt away from the needle.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Turn the quilt so the side just stitched is across the top and the edge needing binding is along the right. Fold the binding strip up, away from the quilt, so that the raw edge is even with the raw edge of the quilt. This will create a 45 degree angle in the binding on the corner. Finger press the 45 degree fold, making sure the fold lines up with the corner of the quilt. This step is what ensures a nice, crisp corner on the front of your quilt.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Fold the binding strip back down, aligning the raw edges of the binding and quilt. Be sure to fold the fabric right at the top edge of the quilt. Finger press.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Begin stitching again. This time, right at the edge of the quilt.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Continue around all sides of the quilt, repeating the steps above for each corner. On the final side, stop stitching about 10"-12" from where you started. Pull the quilt away from the machine and trim the threads.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Lay the quilt on a flat surface. Lay one end of the loose binding down along the unsewn section. Trim slightly if needed in order to be just short of where the stitched section begins.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Lay the other end of the loose binding on top. Trim to be just shy of where the stitching begins.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Eyeball the middle between the ends of the stitching. Using a marking tool (I use what I have laying near me - washable marker, pencil, pen, white quilt marking pencil if using a dark binding), place a small 1/8" line perpendicular to the raw edge.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Mark the exact same spot on every layer of binding, on both the right and wrong sides. I just barely lift the edge with my finger to mark the lines. You should make a total of 8 marks.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Open the ends of the binding.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Place the two ends of the binding strips right sides together, matching up the marks you just made.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Fold the main part of the quilt to get enough slack in the binding.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Pull the binding away from the quilt and line up with your needle.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

With the markings still lined up, stitch from edge to edge. (You can pin before sewing if it helps keep the markings lined up. I rarely use pins, so I just hold it in place.)

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Pull the quilt edge straight again to check to see if the binding is the right length. If not, take out the seam and try again.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

If you are happy with the way the binding finishes, trim the excess fabric in the seam allowance. Cut the fabric 1/4" away from the stitches.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Finger press the seam open.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Refold the binding strip and align the raw edges with the edge of the quilt.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Finish stitching the binding to the quilt. Stitch at least 1/4" on top of the stitches where you stopped before, then stitch at least 1/4" beyond where you first started stitching. This helps to secure the stitching from coming out. Alternatively, you could backstitch to lock the stitching.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

The binding should now be stitched all the way around the quilt.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

The next few steps are what really helps me be successful when machine binding!

Using a hot iron with no steam, press the binding from the front. Pull the binding taut to cover the stitching line. NOTE: If you use polyester binding, the heat of the iron can melt the batting. Use low heat, iron quickly, and just press the binding edge, keeping the iron off the main part of the quilt.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Continue pressing the binding all the way around the quilt.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Flip the quilt over to the back.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

I am right handed, so I start on the right side and work up and to the left. Pull the binding taut, then fold it over to cover the stitches on the back. Press. (Remember just to press the binding if using polyester batting.) Be sure to press the binding evenly.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

When you get to a corner, continue pressing the binding straight off the edge. This will create a 45 degree angle in the corner of the binding.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Fold the binding over on the top edge, keeping it taut, and leaving the 45 degree angle in the corner. Use your fingers to line up the edges to create a crisp corner. Press. Continue pressing around the entire quilt, repeating the steps above for each corner.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Flip the quilt back over to the front. The pressing gave the binding some "memory" to know where it should go. Now it just needs gentle adjustments as you stitch. Start in the middle of one side. Be sure the binding is taut and covering the stitches on the back. Then place under your needle. Use a walking foot, and stitch in the ditch (the edge right between the quilt top and the binding) from the front. Be sure the needle is exactly in the ditch. Go slowly so each stitch is right in the ditch. It's called a walking foot for a reason!

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

As you stitch, every few inches, lift the quilt and be sure the binding is pulled taut and covering the stich line on the back. I like to pull it taut with my right hand, then lay it down on my sewing machine table and put light pressure on the binding with my left hand.

When you near a corner, lift the quilt and be sure the corner is line up just like you want it. Place it back down, holding in place with light pressure from your left hand.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Continue stitching right to the corner. End with the needle down.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

With the needle down, lift the presser foot and rotate the quilt. Put the presser foot back down and begin stitching again. Continue stitching all the way around the quilt. When you get back to where you started, backstitch a couple stitches to secure the stitches.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

You're done! Flip it over and be sure the stitches caught the binding all the way around. If there are any sections that didn't catch, you can go back and pull the binding a little more taut and stitch it again and/or stitch closer to the binding in the ditch.

Bind a quilt by machine tutorial

Pat yourself on the back! You did it!



Linking up to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday at Quilting Jetgirl.

7 comments:

  1. This is a beautifully explained and photographed tutorial! Have you tried going down to a 2-1/4" wide binding strip? You might have enough practice with your method for it to make a crisp finish on the back. I also really like your low pressure method for joining the tails of the binding. Thank you for sharing and linking up!

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  2. Easy-to-follow tutorial with some great photos! Your finished binding looks perfect.

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  3. Your machine binding is perfect! Thanks for the tips!

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  4. Would not pass for competitions but great for practical quilts, thank you!! I hate the hand stitching with a vengeance, that is why I got a pile of quilts waiting, hahaha!

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  5. It looks like you stitch the binding to the front of the quilt and turn it to the back. Is this correct? I don't mind doing the binding but mine is not great so this is a wonderful tutorial. I also dislike sewing binding on the angle. :) So I'm glad to see how to do it straight. I struggled to find a video that shows it. I've done one quilt this way and it's not appreciably thicker at the seams. Your way is much simpler. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I stitch to the front and then turn it to the back. If you press the seams open, there is very little bulk at the seams. Just use a small stitch length so the stitches don't show. Glad it was helpful!

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