As promised, I’m sharing my best tips for sewing all machine binding onto your quilts. This is a great way to add binding that is fast, efficient and strong. And this means more time to start something new!
For the past few years, I have tried different methods of adding binding all by machine. I’ve finally come up with a system that works for me, and I think you’ll like it too. It produces the best-looking finish for an all machine binding technique. I’ll share my tips and my process with you. (I’m assuming you have basic knowledge of binding.)
Note: I’ve used a scrappy binding in most of the photos which means the fabric will change depending on the step. You’ll also see pictures from an entirely different project, but the technique is the same.
Tip 1: Baste around the raw edges of your quilt top, within 1/4″ from the edge. I do this step before I start the quilting process, but it’s important that it’s done before you add the binding. This prevents any shifting around the edges and keeps those layers in place. I use my walking foot and a long stitch length. You can also hand baste this if you want, (but today we’re all about the machine).
Tip 2: My binding strips are cut 2 1/4″ wide on the straight of grain. This width works for most quilts. Unless the edges are curved, I don’t feel the need to make bias binding. I join my binding strips with a diagonal seam and press the strips in half along the length (wrong sides together) to create a double-fold binding.
Tip: 3: Use a walking foot to attach your binding. It just works better and feeds evenly.
Tip 4: Start by sewing your binding to the BACK of your quilt. Traditionally, the binding is sewn to the front of the quilt and wrapped to the back and sewn down by hand (or machine). By starting on the back and wrapping to the front, you’ll be able to do the final stitching by machine and it will look awesome (front and back.) I’ll walk you through the steps below:
1. Beginning on the back, start by stitching 8″ down from the beginning of the binding strip if you want to join your binding tails with a seam. You can also join the binding tails with the pocket method which starts off differently.
Use about 1/4″ seam allowance. I find that a standard 1/4″ (not a scant) works best. You might want to test this out for yourself. Basically, you want to make sure that you’ll be covering your stitches when the binding is wrapped to the front. But you don’t want too much binding on the front because you might have some patchwork “points” that will get covered up (all that precision work down the drain).
I like to adjust my needle position to the right so that I can use the edge of my walking foot as a guide. This takes a little testing, as I mentioned above, to get the seam allowance just right.
- (a) When you get to a corner, stop 1/4″ before (if your seam allowance is different, for instance 3/8″, then you should stop 3/8″ before) pivot, and stitch out to the corner. Clip your thread tails.
- (b) Rotate the quilt and fold the binding strip up and away from the corner. You should see a straight line from the binding to the quilt edge and a 45° line at the fold.
- (c) Fold the fabric back down onto itself so that there is a fold along the top that is even with the edge of the quilt.
- (d) Start stitching right at the top edge (at the fold). Continue until the next corner.
3. Join the binding tails. There are so many way of doing this step, and you might have a favorite method of your own. I’ll give a quick overview of how I do mine. It gives a nice seam and leaves a tight amount of binding to finish with.
- (a) When you get near the starting point, stop so that you have a good 12″-18″ of open area.
- (b) Fold both tails back so there is a scant 1/4″ gap between them.
- (c) Cut one of the tails on the fold. Save this piece of binding for the next step.
- (d) Take the scrap of binding from above and use it to measure the cut for the other binding tail. Cut this side of the “tail” the width of the binding.
Change of sample pictures – they show a better picture….
- (d) Face the tails to each other and unfold them (as if they were meeting each other for the first time).
- (e) Pivot the tail on the right a quarter turn.
- (f) Flip the tail on the right on top of the tail on the left, right sides together.
- (g) Draw a diagonal stitching line (or you could make a crease) and stitch.
- (h) Check to make sure it fits and nothing got twisted.
- (i) Trim the seam allowance to 1/4″ and finger press open.
- (j) Continue sewing the binding in place until complete.
Tip 5: Press the binding out from the edge of the quilt. This will help wrap it around to the front.
Tip 6: Mitering the corner on the front requires some “fiddling” to get it just right. Start by folding the right side of the binding to the front and finger press the angle from the corner. It will naturally drop down that way. Bring the other side of the binding over to form the mitered corner. Play with it until you get an even corner. Pin in place.
Tip 7: Load thread on top to match the binding. Load the bobbin with thread to match the backing. This will reduce the visibility of stitches on both sides.
Tip 8: From the front side, stitch as close to the folded edge of the binding as possible (using a walking foot). I adjust my needle position so that the inside edge of the walking foot acts as a guide. If you stitch too far away from the folded edge, you’ll form a “lip” that tends to announce itself a little too loudly. This will also ensure that your stitching does not fall onto the binding from the back side.
My stitch length is 2.5. Some people use a decorative stitch for this step. I haven’t ventured into that place yet.
Tip 9: Use a stiletto to hold the binding down in front of the needle. You could also use a seam ripper (but be careful) or a strong pin. This helps to guide your stitching and keeps everything in place. And those Clover Wonder Clips are the best! I think they have found their true purpose in life.
Tip 10: Pay attention when stitching the corners. I keep the pin in place until the last minute, and I stitch just past the mitered fold. Stop with the needle down and pivot. Reposition the needle over to the left just a bit so you’re at the edge of the next folded side. Essentially, you’re creating an extra stitch at the corner.
Tip 11: Use assorted fabric strips from your quilt and make your binding scrappy! I do enjoy a good, scrappy binding.
Tip 12: Admire your binding and your finished quilt! I love the satisfaction of finishing a quilt. I still like to sew binding on by hand once in a while, but with the demand of my schedule, I find that I’m usually going for the all machine binding method.
I know you’re going to ask. This quilt pattern is so darn cute – it’s from Fig Tree & Co. I received it as a kit, so it’s just like the pattern cover. Here is a full photo (before quilting):
I hope these tips for all machine binding were helpful. If you have any tips of your own to share, please leave a comment. If you are interested in my other binding tutorials you can find them below:
- Mug Rug Binding Tips
- How to join binding ends with the pocket method
- Quick & Easy Mitered Binding Tool
Thank you so much for visiting today! Happy binding!