Quilt Binding by Machine
Many years ago, a quilt shop owner showed me her technique for binding a quilt by machine. I’ve used it ever since because it looks great on the front and the back of the quilt, it’s easy, it’s fast and it’s sturdy. Here’s a tutorial for how I bind my quilts by machine.
- Trim the backing and batting even with the edge of the quilt top as you normally would.
- Cut enough 2.25″-wide binding strips to go around the quilt.
- Join the strips end to end with diagonal seams.
- Press in half with wrong sides together. So far, this is the same preparation you would do for a binding that’s to be sewn down by hand. But here is where the fun begins!
- Use a walking foot and sew the binding to the back of the quilt. Yup, that’s right. Sew binding to the back of the quilt, not the front.
- Miter the corners as you normally would.
- Stop sewing when you’re within about 8″ of where you began, leaving room to join the ends using your favorite method.
- Join the ends and then finish sewing the binding to the back of the quilt.
- Now it’s time to pause and set up your machine for the final step.
- Fill a bobbin with thread to match the backing. In this case, I used a creamy neutral color.
- Thread the top of the machine with invisible monofilament thread. I use the SewArt brand.
- Set your machine for a blind hemstitch. This stitch has a sequence of straight, straight, zig, zag, repeat. I like my stitch length to be 1.0mm and my stitch width to be 1.3mm. You will be pulling the binding from the back of the quilt to the front of the quilt in order to sew it down as shown below.
- Begin toward the middle of one side and secure the binding to the front of the quilt with the blind hemstitch. The straight stitches will be on the quilt, and the zigzag portion will take a little bite into the binding. I drew stitches on the photo below in Photoshop to give you the idea. Of course the actual stitches are much smaller than they look here.
- As you come to each corner, stop a few stitches before you reach the raw edges, secure the stitching and cut the threads. As you pull the binding to the front of the next side, the corner will miter naturally. Sew this side down, securing the stitching as you begin. Continue in this manner all the way around the quilt. Secure the stitching at the end.
The photo above shows how the finished binding looks from the back of the quilt. The bobbin thread matches the backing so the line of stitching, which is just inside the binding, blends in nicely.
Here’s a close-up of the binding from the front of the quilt. The blind hemstitch with monofilament is virtually invisible, which is just what you want. It looks even better after a quilt is washed.
If you zoom out just a little, you can see that it looks great. These bindings have stood the test of time on my quilts for close to 20 years. It’s a great technique and I hope you’ll give it a go! Try it on a small quilt for starters. If you have trouble or questions, email me and I’ll be happy to coach you through it. Find my address in the right-hand sidebar.
Some of my best binding tips are featured on a free video from National Quilter’s Circle. Check it out!