Monday, January 16, 2012

machine binding explained

Several times on this blog I have talked about attaching quilt binding entirely by machine. Last week I finished another quilt binding like this and actually took some photos to show you how I do it.

Disclaimer here: this method is nothing revolutionary (and I didn't invent it); it's just a mixture of different techniques that I've read about or seen demonstrated, and the method that works best for me :)

I always cut my binding strips at 2.25", and sew them to the front of the quilt using a 1/4" seam. I usually leave a little bit (1/8 to 1/4") of the quilt backing and batting to wrap in the binding for extra fullness around the edges when hand-finishing only. When I machine finish, I trim all the excess backing and batting away so all the layers are flush with the binding raw edge.

From the front of the quilt, I iron the binding away from the quilt top around all four sides. Make sure to remove any markings from your quilt top that may become permanent from the iron heat! Use lots of steam with a very hot iron.

Then flip the quilt over so the backing is face-up and press the binding finished edge down so that it overlaps your stitching line. Again - lots of steam.

Make sure to press nice mitered corners, so your sewing machine catches all the edges with your stitching.

Pin from the front at 3" to 4" intervals.

Check to be sure your pins have caught the finished edge of the binding on the back.

Now you are ready to sew! I have a "quilt in the ditch" foot attachment for my machine that I like to use since I'm not very accomplished at stitching in the ditch. If you have one too, give it a try. If not, just use any foot that will allow you to see your needle clearly so you can place your stitches directly in the ditch between the quilt front and the binding.

Stitch all the way around your quilt, removing the pins as you come to them. Now check it out - you can barely see that stitching line from the front!

And on the back, the corners and all edges are securely stitched down!

Check all around the back of your quilt to see if you skipped over any edges. Sometimes I don't get my stitching quite close enough to the ditch in places, and on the back there is a small section where I haven't caught the binding. Now worries, just put it back under the needle and stitch closer to the ditch and you'll probably catch it on the second try.

The pressing is really the key here. If you've got your binding pressed around to the quilt back slightly overlapping your initial stitching line, you'll have great success and be a pro at this in no time. Practice on something small for your first attempt - a place-mat, pot holder, mug rug, or something of that sort.

If you give this a go, please drop me a note or comment. I'd love to hear about how you fared. Have questions or need more clarification? Let me know about that, too.

Good luck and Happy Binding!


  1. Your results are neater than mine... must be the pressing and pinning (so tempting to think I can get away without those steps!).

  2. Can you post a picture of the foot you use? It looks like one I have but I'm not sure. Thanks so much for the tut.

  3. Are you using cotton batting? I am concerned that pressing poly batting would flatten in permanently. What are your thoughts on this?

    1. Hi Kelly - yes, I always use cotton batting. I don't know how poly batting would stand up to the iron. I never thought of that - if you try it let me know what happens.


Thanks so much for stopping by and reading a little bit about me and taking the time to comment! Have a wonderful day!


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