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Machine Binding Tutorial

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Machine binding quilt collage

My hand sewing sucks so I sew everything possible by machine – including quilt binding. Sure, I’ll do some decorative hand embroidery because you end up with something pretty when you’re all done, but asking me to spend my time stitching boring seams that a machine can do more quickly (and honestly probably better)? No thanks, I’d rather use my time for other projects.

A couple weeks ago I showed you how to make continuous bias binding so let’s put it to good use!

If you haven’t already, start by folding your binding in half and pressing with an iron.

Ironing bias binding in half

Binding the First Side

Pin the raw edge of the binding to the raw edge of the squared off quilt.

Pinning binding to raw edge of quilt

Which side you start with is totally a personal decision. The side you start with will have the stitching on the quilt fabric and the side you end with will have the stitching on the binding. I generally prefer starting on the back.

Front and back of quilt showing where binding stitching shows
I started with the back so stitching shows on the back fabric and on the binding on the front.

Leave a 6-8” tail and sew using a ¼” seam allowance.

Starting to sew the binding leaving a tail
Don’t start sewing at the edge – leave a tail.

Before you actually start sewing it’s a good idea to do a quick check to see approximately where the binding’s seams will end up. You don’t want seams at a corner because it makes it hard to make a nice looking corner when you’ve got all that excess fabric to deal with. If any of the corners look like this, shift where you are starting the binding.

Binding seam meeting at corner of quilt
We don’t want seams at the corners.

We want all the corners to be free of seams like this:

Binding with no seam at corner

Using a walking foot sew up to a corner until you are ¼” away from the edge. I like to mark with a pin so I know exactly where to stop. Backstitch at the beginning and the end of all your sewing.

Sewing binding to edge of quilt with pin indicating stopping point

Fold the binding up at a diagonal. If your fold meets the corners of a square on a quilting ruler you know you’re at a perfect 45° angle!

Checking binding's 45 degree angle using a quilting ruler

Fold the binding down again so it’s square with the sewn side like this:

Folding up binding square with edges

Either start right at the edge of the fabric or ¼” in, sew down the next side.

Stitching on second side of binding

Continue all around the quilt until you reach the side you started on. Stop about 10” away from where you started sewing.

Tails and gap left at the end of binding

Connecting the Binding

Lay the tails down over each other and decide where you are going to want to attach them together. Again we aren’t going to want to sew over an existing seam.

Cut the first binding perpendicular at the point you want them to connect.

Unfold the scrap you just cut from the first binding piece. We’ll be using this to measure how much we cut off the second piece. Place this scrap so that it overlaps the first piece.

Cut the second piece at the opposite side of the scrap. The two bindings should overlap.

Cut binding

Open the bindings and place them right sides together with the edges 90° from each other. Use a ruler to draw a straight line corner to corner.

Binding pinned and line drawn

Sew along the line and trim the seam allowance. Press apart.

Binding sewn together and excess cut

Fold the binding back up and finish sewing the edge.

Binding the Second Side

Now turn the quilt over and we’ll start sewing the back. I like to start by flipping the all the binding for the whole quilt over. This seems to make it easier for me to sew without having to pin the whole thing.

Binding flipped over toward the top of the quilt

Pull and pin the binding past your previous stitch line.

Binding pinned to the front of the quilt

Sew right along the edge of the binding. You want to make sure you stay past the previous stitching or you’ll end up with stray stitches on the binding on the other side.

Sewing binding onto the front of the quilt

Stop when you get close to an edge. Fold one side down then the other to form a nice mitered corner. I like to pin in place so that the corner doesn’t shift as I sew.

Front binding corner pinned

When you reach the corner, leave the needle in the down position and lift the foot up to turn the quilt.

Turning the quilt with needle in down position

Here’s what the corner looks like when it’s all finished:

Mitered binding corner

Keep sewing until you’ve gone around the whole thing.

Once you get the hang of it this is a pretty quick and easy method for attaching a binding!

Finished machine bound quilt
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