May 05, 2016

How to Bind a Quilt by Machine - A Tutorial

When it came time to bind my Denim Hexies mini quilt, I took pictures of the whole process so I could write a tutorial for how I bind my quilts. This is kind of a mash-up of all the different binding tricks I've picked up over the years and I hope you'll find something useful in my method.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I'll warn you now, this is a long, picture-heavy post! Let's go!


Calculate How Much Binding

The first step is figuring out how much binding you need. Here's my formula for calculating how many strips I need to cut:

(Quilt length + Quilt width) x 2 + 20" = the total number of inches you need.

That extra 20" is for mitering the corners and joining the two ends of the binding. Some people only add 10", but I like to be sure I'll have more than enough and I won't be struggling to get those ends joined.

My mini quilt measures 11.5" long and 22" wide, so my formula looks like this:

(11.5 + 22) x 2 + 20" = 87"

Assuming 40" of usable fabric in each strip, take your total number of inches needed and divide it by 40, then round up to get the number of strips you need to cut.
87 ÷ 40 = 2.175

I will confess that because I only needed .175 of a third strip, I did go with only using two strips and it worked fine, so use your own judgement if your number comes out to be just barely above a whole number.

Make the Binding

How wide you cut your strips is, in part, a matter of personal preference. 2 1/2" seems to be the most common measurement, but I prefer to cut mine at 2 1/4" as I find it makes for a neater finish. The best way to figure out what you prefer is to bind a couple of quilts with each measurement and choose which one works best for you. There is no right or wrong answer on this one.

Once you've cut as many strips as you need, it's time to join them together. We'll join them with a diagonal seam to reduce the bulk.

Place the end of one strip on the table, right side up. Place one end of a second strip on top, right sides together and perpendicular to the first strip. Check to be sure this is actually a separate strip and you're not joining the two ends of one strip together (yes, I have done this!). I like to leave a smidge of fabric visible at the ends so I can see the intersections better. It helps me sew a straighter line :) Pin the strips together.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Stitch a diagonal line from the intersection at the top left to the intersection at the bottom right. You can mark this line before stitching if you want, but it's such a short seam that I find marking isn't necessary.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
 Trim off the corner, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Continue adding strips until you have one long piece. Press the seam allowances, open or to one side - your choice. The places where your strips are joined will look like this:
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Press the binding in half along the entire width, wrong sides together.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
You now have one long strip of binding ready to attach to your quilt! I'm only binding a mini quilt, so my strip isn't actually all that long, but if you're binding a bed-sized quilt, your binding will be much more impressive looking! At this point, depending on when you'll actually attach it to your quilt, or your social media needs, you could roll the binding into a pretty circle, or you can do as I usually do and leave it like this.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Attach the Binding to the Quilt Back

Before you can attach the binding to your quilt, you need to trim off the excess batting and backing.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
It looks more like a finished quilt already!
If you want to add triangles in the corners for hanging your quilt, now is the time to do that. I recommend this tutorial. As you can see, I also add my label before adding the binding.

It's a good idea to check placement before you actually stitch the binding on, to be sure none of your seams are going to end up on a corner. That makes the corner bulky and not at all neat (ask me how I know...). To avoid that, lay your quilt down on the table or floor, with the back facing up. Starting part way along one side, lay out the binding, keeping it right at the edge of the quilt and adding a little extra at the corners to simulate the miter. If a seam ends up on a corner, move your starting point farther up or down to move the seam away from the corner. I'll often stick a pin in to hold the starting edge of the binding in place as I move to my machine.

Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Attach your walking foot to your sewing machine. I find using the walking foot makes attaching the binding much easier. I also use a machine quilting glove on my left hand as I sew. That gives me a lot more control over the bulk of the quilt as I'm trying to move it, especially if it's a larger quilt.

Don't start sewing right at the beginning of the binding strip. You'll want to leave a tail that is at least 6" long and I usually go more like 8". I really don't like struggling with those ends when I'm trying to join them together! In this picture, the scissors are pointing at the pin where I would start sewing. With the raw edge of the binding matching the raw edge of the quilt, start stitching the binding. Backstitch at the beginning and use a 1/4" seam.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Stop sewing 1/4" away from the corner and backstitch. Take the quilt out of the machine.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Turn the quilt so the side you just sewed is at the top and the next side is on the right. Fold the binding up away from the quilt, forming a diagonal fold. The raw edge of the binding should form a straight line with the raw edge of the quilt.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Fold the binding back down along the edge of the quilt. The fold should match the top edge of the quilt.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
This will leave a flap at the corner that we'll use to create the miter.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Start stitching right at the top edge, backstitching again and using a 1/4" seam. Repeat for the three remaining corners.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Join the Ends

Stop a good 10" or more from where you started stitching. Don't be tempted to make the gap smaller as the smaller the gap, the harder it is to manipulate the ends to join them together and the higher your frustration level will climb. Again, ask me how I know :)
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Take the two strips and lay them nice and flat against the quilt, folding them back on themselves where they meet. Snip about 1/8" at the folds.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Take the right hand strip and open it out flat. Turn it so it is at a right angle to the quilt, right side up, as shown.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
You can see the little snip in this picture.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Now, take the left hand strip and find the snip. Lay the left hand strip right sides together with the first strip, matching the snips. You may need to fold your quilt to make it easier to bring the strips together. Sometimes I even find I need to pin a fold into the quilt so it won't keep pulling the strips apart. Pin the strips together.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Again, you can see the snips in this picture.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Stitch a diagonal line from the top left intersection to the bottom right intersection. Again, you could mark this line if you want, but I don't bother.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Straighten out your quilt to make sure the binding lies nice and flat as you've sewn it. If there's an issue, it's better to find out now rather than after you've trimmed off the excess fabric.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
If everything looks good, then trim off the excess fabric, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Press the seam allowance, then press the fold back into the binding. Stitch the gap between your starting and stopping points so that the entire binding is attached to the back of the quilt.

Trim the corners. I find this helps to make the corners of the binding look neater. Just be careful not to cut your stitching lines.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Press the binding away from the back of the quilt. This is a tip I picked up more recently (like maybe a year ago) and I'm amazed at the difference it makes. Such a small thing, but it really makes the finished binding looks more professional.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Stitching the Binding to the Front

Flip the quilt over and pull the binding up so that it faces the front of the quilt.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Fold the binding down over the raw edge of the quilt and pin in place. If you have Wonder Clips, this is a great time to use them. I don't have clips, but I find pins work really well and I hardly ever stab myself with them. Even when I'm handling large quilts :) It probably helps that I use pins that are a little on the smaller side. Keep the pins fairly close together so the binding lays flat between them.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
When it comes to the corner, I find it helps to pin in this order...First, I pin close to the corner on the side I've been pinning...
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
...then I turn the quilt so the next side is at the top and pin a little ways away from the corner. This helps keep the binding from trying to flip up as I'm folding the corner neatly.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
To fold the corner, start with the side that you were pinning first, then fold the second side on top of it, which will give you a nice mitered corner. Pin close to the corner on the second side. Repeat that process as you work your way around, pinning the binding around the entire quilt.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
At this point, make sure you're using thread that blends with your binding fabric on top. On the bottom, I tend to go with thread that will blend with the backing fabric.

I really struggle with getting a good picture of something under the needle in my machine, so this next picture isn't great, but hopefully you can see well enough.

I shift my needle slightly to the left for this part and try to stitch really close to the folded edge of the binding. If you look past the needle in the picture, you can just barely see that there are gaps in the metal of my walking foot. I use the inside edge of the gap on the left as my guide.

I recommend stitching slowly, taking out the pins just as they reach the front of the walking foot.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
This is what the finished binding will look like from the front.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
And this is what it looks like on the back. In hindsight, I probably should have used the Connecting Threads thread in "Honey' (affiliate link) rather than the blue as that would have blended in better with the quilting.
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
And there you have it - one perfectly bound quilt!
Bind a quilt by machine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I hope you found this tutorial helpful :)

I'll be linking up with NTT, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop, Finish it Up Friday and Let's Bee Social.



This post contains an affiliate link. That means that if you click on the link and then make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. It does not affect the price to pay.

9 comments:

  1. It was a great tutorial and that quilt is beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful quilting on your wall hanging. And thanks for the tutorial! I have always struggled with joining the ends of the binding, getting them twisted every which way every time. I have a few tutorials saved, but I don't seem to get it with them. I think your's will be the last one I need. Thanks!

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  3. Great tutorial and very well done. Thank you!

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  4. Beautiful quilt! Your tutorial is very detailed and well written. Great finish!

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  5. Lovely photography for the tutorial. I have to confess that when machine binding, I typically don't go through the trouble of pinning the binding down to the front, I just finger fold it along as I go (eep)!

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  6. Thank you so much. You addressed two things I never thought about that probably make binding (which I hate) more of a struggle for me than it has to be. I appreciate that!

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  7. Thank you Leanne! It was a life changing tutorial for me. I went from procrastinating binding to almost looking forward to it :)What I found really helpful in your tutorial beside showing every single step with pictures, is that you detailed what not to do, and specifically the reasons for that. It really gives a clear structure.

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  8. Thanks for the tutorial! I've not got the courage yet to machine-stitch the binding, I always hand-stitch it to the back. Maybe I'll try with your tutorial.

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  9. I keep meaning to try that join, but I always chicken out. I'll hold on to this URL for the next chance.
    About laying the binding around the quilt before stitching. I second that. It is really terrible to try to sew through all the layers made by a seam at the corner.

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