In this post, I’m sharing a tutorial for machine binding a quilt. After reading this post, you’ll come away with my favorite tips for a beautiful finishing touch to your quilty treasure.
Be honest, have you ever gifted a quilt that isn’t *quite* finished? Ha! Me too! Or maaaaaybe you have a few finished quilts that just need to be bound? Yikes! Me too! Sometimes you need to get that quilt finished in the quickest way possible… which means machine binding!
There are a lot of different ways to bind a quilt and a ton of comprehensive quilt binding tutorials available, so I won’t go into a full blown tutorial. Instead I’ll share what I do differently when machine binding a quilt. This is my secret sauce method that finishes beautifully, quickly, and with minimal effort.
Sometimes little feet are waiting for you to finish their quilt!
As I share my process for machine binding a quilt, look for these key takeaways:
- Attach the binding strip to the back of the quilt (not the front).
- Use thread to match your quilting thread.
- Match your stitch length to your quilting stitch length.
Why Machine Binding?
Many people love hand binding and find solace and relaxation in the process. But not me. If I do hand binding … it won’t get done. So my binding is not so much for relaxation, but to get the quilt finished, quickly.
Once I discovered machine binding, and I think I learned initially from Red Pepper Quilts, there was no looking back!
It took me awhile to fine tune my technique but after machine binding for a few years, I finally feel like I have my fool-proof method. And now, I probably machine bind about 90% of my quilts. I love the durability and the finish.
MAchine Binding Method
Let’s get started with the how to machine bind a quilt. Again, I’m not covering every aspect of binding, just what I do differently to get a great, lesser effort, finish. (If you need a comprehensive binding tutorial try here.)
sewing machine set up:
Prior to attaching the binding, I set up my sewing machine by changing the thread, stitch length, and the foot.
- Thread – I usually match my thread to the thread I used in the quilting.
- Stitch Length – I set my stitch length to match the stitch length in the quilting, usually around 3.5.
- Change the Foot – A walking foot is helpful, and perhaps required. I can’t bind by machine without my walking foot.
attach the binding to the back
To start with, I attach the binding strip to the back of the quilt, instead of front. This little change, allows for a prettier and tidier finish on the front of the quilt.
machine stitch the binding on the front
Once you’ve got the binding attached to the back, flip that sucker over to the front. It’s time to machine bind the front.
Beginning with one corner, start wrapping around the fold of the binding to the front. Usually I just use my fingers, but clips and pins work too. I don’t even use clips or pins anymore but I’ve bound a quilt or five.
Once you’ve got the start pinned (or not pinned), put that first corner under the foot. You will start stitching 1/4” away from each corner. Before that, you’ll need to bring up your bobbin thread. So hold on to your top thread; then needle down and needle up. Then pull the top thread until the bobbin thread comes up. Pull each tails to the back and side, or away from the seam-to-be.
Once you’ve got the thread tails out of the way, lock stitch or stitch and back stitch. Then continue sewing about 1/8′ inch away from the fold. As you stitch you’ll be able to control where the stitching line finishes on the front. It’ll be sooooo pretty!
For corners, I just keep top stitching continuously to attach the binding. (I used to stop and start at each corner.)
As you approach each corner you’ll need to pause and do your miter.
I’ve found it best to miter the binding from the next side (bottom side in the picture) under the miter for the current side (on the right side in the picture). This will help the walking foot not “trip” over the miter making a yucky fold (ask me how I know…).
Pin or clip your miters in place. (Is black the worst choice ever for a binding tutorial?!!! YES!) Try to pin away from where you’ll be stitching so that you can keep the pin in place for as long as possible. You just need to pin the top layers and not through all the layers.
Once everything is pinned to your satisfaction, continue top stitching. When you get to 1/4” away from the corner, ideally your needle will be through where the miter folds meet, you will stop and pivot the quilt. Make sure your needle is down when you pivot. Pivot so that you can top stitch the binding to the next side of the quilt.
Before continuing, just to be extra safe I put in a lock stitch. On my machine, the lock stitch is the circle within a circle button.
And that is that! This is how to machine bind a quilt, using my favorite tricks and tips.
Just keep it up until you have 4…
For me, machine binding a quilt is a must. If I have to hand bind, the quilt will linger and haunt my to do lists. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Prior to perfecting my machine binding technique, and it did take several go rounds, my biggest frustration with machine binding was that my stitches would inevitably wander. Sometimes the stitches would wander so much, there’d be a portion of the binding that wasn’t even attached to the quilt (fail!).
My biggest aha moments came when 1) I attached the binding to the back (as I’ve shown above) and not the front, 2) coordinated my thread and stitch length with the quilting, and 3) did a continuous stitch to attach the binding to the front.
As I attach the binding to the front I can control the wobbles and make sure the binding is actually being attached to the quilt. (What a concept! Ha!)
Comment below with any questions on my technique or if there’s a binding tutorial or resource you’d love to share.