Machine Binding

Trim off any extra batting and backing after the quilt has been quilted.

Pick binding. I really wanted to use this light brown but I didn’t have enough yardage.

So the brown polka dot will work. Cut the number of strips you’ll need allowing for joining.

Join the ends of all the strips with a 45 degree angle.

Trim 1/4″ from stitching.

Press all seams open. Then fold in half lengthwise and press.

On back side of quilt lay raw edge of folded binding even with the edge. Leave a tail of about a foot in length.

Backstitch and start sewing 1/4″ from edge. Needle stop down is helpful here if your machine has it. The weight of the quilt tends to pull it away from the presser foot so I use a chair to the side of my machine.

When you come to the corner, stop 1/4″ from the edge and backstitch.

Make a mitered corner, folding binding up and then down the edge of the next side.

Continue stitching around the quilt until you come to your starting place and stop with about 12″ of space. Backstitch and take out of machine.

Overlap the ending of the binding with the beginning tale.

And this is how you determine where to cut off the end of the binding. Overlap the ending of your binding the same measurement of the width of the binding. Or you can open up the tail of the binding, lay it over the joining area and cut it off. In my case, the binding was cut 2-1/4″ wide.

With right sides together, join the beginning tail to the ending tail with a 45 degree angle.

Take the entire quilt to the ironing board and press this seam open.

Then fold the binding in half lengthwise again like it was and press.

Go back to the machine and finish sewing the 1/4″ seam.

It fits perfect, doesn’t it? Now press the binding from the back side of the quilt.

Now is when I’m fussy about the color of thread – I want it to match the binding color on top and the quilting thread color on the back. When I sewed the binding on, I didn’t care at all about the thread color – I think it was aqua!

With a quilting foot and a longer stitch, sew close to the edge of the binding on the top of the quilt. When coming to a corner I use a seam ripper to hold the mitered corner in place.

Here is what a corner SHOULD look like – not all of mine do.

Here’s the quilt on the porch with the pillow that started it all.

And here’s the pillow purchased at the thrift store for $2.

Here’s the back – quilt measured 46″! How did I let that happen? So I had to add a strip down the middle to get my 2 yds of backing to fit.

And the minute I laid it down on the table, Heidi sprawled out on top – like all cats do!

I hope this made sense – I was so afraid my site would crash before I finished – it has taken me three hours! And if you think this tutorial was helpful, feel free to close some ads for me. It will help us keep patterns and tutorials coming on this blog at no cost to you.

28 thoughts on “Machine Binding

  1. Marilyn Holder

    Thanks for this tutorial…….I never get too old to learn something new. I never pressed the binding on the back before turning it over to finish sewing from the front. I will do this next time.

  2. Elaine Kopischke-Trejo

    WOW!!! What a LOT of work this was – taking pictures and posting each step!!! Thank you for the wonderful tutorial!!!!!

  3. Sandra

    Great tutorial.I enjoy and learn by reading the different techniques quilters used.I love the way your shirt quilt turned out.Thanks for sharing
    Sandra your skill and your days on the farm..

  4. Jo

    Mary, great pictures with instructions. I would add…after sewing ends together, refold and lay the binding on the quilt edge. If it lays correctly, cut 1/4” from stitching.
    Trust me on this step!

  5. Kathy

    Thanks for the visual lesson. I like learning with good pictures and you came through for me. My hands still hold out for me to do my last step of binding but I should do this for some charity quilts as it will sustain them longer thru laundry. My cat is the same with laying on my sewing as I work away.

  6. Teresa

    Mary, the floral shirt quilt is awesome! I’m going to have to copy your pattern, imitation is the highest form of flattery. I envy you having your quilt shop to work in. That would be lovely to have all your supplies and longarm in their own space so you can spread out and not have to worry about tidying up during a project.

  7. Betty Klosterman

    Forgot to add that when I am “closing” the binding I trim out all the extra layers that won’t show and eliminate extra bulk, also trim the corners if necessary and try to lay out the binding before sewing so no binding seams end up on a corner. Project Warmth quilts can be a challenge sometimes, but they look so nice when finished.

  8. Donna Sproston

    Thanks so much for this great tutorial! By closing ads, do you mean to click on them to get to their website? That is what I have been doing. The Viking Cuba tour is less than the Valentino dress!

  9. Sue in Oregon

    What a great tutorial and lesson! Thanks so much. I am going to try your method of measuring the start and stop. I always get so mixed up and frustrated at this point. I used to do it just like Betty (above) but there is always a tiny bump. It is an excellent way, though, for baby quilts, donation quilts, table toppers, etc. So is machine sewing down those types of quilts. When they are going to be machine washed more, I think sewing them down on the machine makes them stronger.

  10. Carmen Montmarquet

    Thanks so much for this tutorial, it really helps! I always enjoy hearing about your days, you always seem to be having fun, but i know you work really hard especially when your husband was recovering!! You went above and beyond what most would have done!!
    But i have to say i never get any ads when visiting your site??? I would click on them but i don’t get any. I know i shouldn’t complain because they usually are a pain but i would help you if i could! Just wanted you to know, there must be others that don’t get them either?

  11. Betty Klosterman

    People that hate binding just don’t know how to do it. When I volunteered to bind quilts for Project Warmth, I ended up binding 121 quilts in 1 year. Nobody cared how I did it as long as they didn’t have to do it. Got lots of practice and figured out at least 1 short cut. The Eleanor Burns method for corners is wonderful and works every time as shown. As for sewing the bias ends together to finish, I cheat. On the starting edge I cut the binding on the bias and turn the edge under with a basting stitch. At the last of the binding I just slip it into the basted edge pinning carefully and you’re done. A bit of basting will hold it perfectly til completed. It wouldn’t work for judged pieces, but who cares as it isn’t going anywhere. Then because I’m a suspender/belt person and I bleed when the pins stick me, I turn the binding to the back and hand baste it leaving about 1/8″ between the machine sewing and the back edge of binding — then I sew on the right side just at the edge of the front binding which catches the back perfectly. The other ladies thought this wouldn’t work, but we passed their quilt police inspection. If this doesn’t make sense, I’ll send you a sample on joining the ends.

  12. Beth

    Thank you for sharing the trick about knowing where to make the cut when joining the last seam.

  13. Nancy

    Hello Mary, Since I have done so much handwork in the past, I now sew all my bindings by machine. Found a great tutorial on line for those who have a Bernina machine. Mine is not new and is about 15 years old (145-S). In this video the sewer uses a Bernina #71 flat felled foot which turns the binding as it sews. After she has trimmed her quilt, she uses an overlock stitch first to hold the binding, batting and backing together when she applies the binding. She also cuts her binding only 2″ wide which is wonderful when you have only a little bit of fabric left for the job. It seems that some other sewing machine companies sell an 8 or 9 mm flat felled foot. You need one that wide. I also sew my binding to the back of the quilt first and then bring it to the front for the final stitching. It is usually perfect on the back side. To view the video, cut and paste the website below into your browser. This gal has other videos that are very worthwhile like how to make a perfect corner in a pillow. Hope this helps. Love your blog and all your plants and animals and adventures.

    1. Teresa

      Nancy, I have watched that Bernina video and the foot looks so easy to use but I’ve not known anyone to actually use it. I have a older Bernina, a 640 and I love the way it sews and use it as my piecing machine so I’m always tempted to purchase that binding foot. Thanks for mentioning it.

  14. Diane

    Your directions are very good!! I don’t finish my ends until I’m all finished with the binding which I love to sew by hand–I know–weird. It adds an extra step, but it works for me. I may try your method on this next one and see what happens:) Thanks for sharing. I almost always open the ads because some are different from what I usually see.

  15. Nancy Pleimann

    Your tutorial was great, But I still love to sew the binding by hand on the back. I would like to know how far apart you sew your quilting lines on the quilt? Looks like it might be 1/2″ or 3/4″ . Thanks, Nancy Pleimann

  16. Carla J

    Great directions, I have used this method for donation quilts this year. Made it easy to finish them. Great for kids and baby quilts that may get washed frequently.

  17. Amy

    Oh Mary you make it look so easy!!! I think the first question is your batting-is it warm and natural? The thickness of the batting would impact the strip size maybe? I know you always use 2 1/4″ strips and I’ve always used 2 1/2″ strips so maybe that is why my machine binding does not look great. Another day….can we see a picture of the back side after you have flipped the binding to the front and stitched it down. Mine is always half on half off and it makes me crazy. At least yours looks good from the front! The qullt looks great and I’m amazed you got all those squares out of two shirts!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Amy – I am not a fan of Warm and Natural -I won’t use it because it’s too thick and too stiff. I want my quilt to ripple into a pile and Warm and Natural can’t do that. This is only my personal opinion.

  18. Janet

    thanks, I have trouble with connecting the binding, you explained it well. I have always hand sewed the back of the binding, I may have to try your way, it looked great!

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