Machine Binding a Quilt

November 20, 2015

Suzie Rules Suzie’s Rules

Start by joining your 2.5” strips on the diagonal, like this. 

Sew corner to corner.


I like to chain piece here by grabbing the end and attaching another strip, like this:


Next, you need to trim the excess to a 1/4” seam allowance(ish).  I don’t measure, just snip it with a scissors.  Close enough is good enough for me! 


Next, lay the right side of the binding strip against any edge of the back of the quilt.  Hold the show, you say!  No pressing???  That’s right, I like to live on the edge.  I pressed for years and years and finally decided that it just doesn’t matter.  I get the same results, so why waste the time?


Next fold your binding so that the raw edges are lined up with the edge of the quilt.  Leave a generous tail before the start of your sewing.  I use a walking foot.  I just like it better than binding with dual feed.  Old dog, I guess!  Begin sewing a 1/4” seam.  I also prefer to have my needle stop in the down position in case I need a break.  This way, I can pick up right where I left off.


Sew right up until about a 1/4” from the end of that side and press the scissors button on your machine (or do it the old fashioned way.)  Remove the quilt from your machine.


At this point, you are going to fold the unsewn portion up and to the right so that the edge of your quilt and the edge of your binding strip are even.


Then you’re gonna whip a U-turn!  Fold that piece back down towards the next side you are going to sew.  Your goal is a square corner on the binding strip that matches the square corner of the quilt beneath it.


Begin sewing right at the edge.  I usually backstitch a little bit at the start to secure it better.  Again, use a 1/4” seam.


This is where I like to stick a label in.  For a larger label with lots of touching, kind words, I would pin it in the corner so that 2 of the sides are sewn into the binding, and then hand sew the other two down.  You guys know that H-word kills me, so I just drop a Pine Needles label in my quilts to avoid it! 


Keep on trucking all the way, turning corners as I have shown you until you get just about to where you began sewing.  Secure, cut, and remove your quilt.


Trim a selvage from on end of your binding strip.  I just use this little scrap for easy measuring.  The goal here is to overlap your beginning and ending strip by the width of your strip.  In my case, 2.5”.




Now you’re going to join ends by sewing corner to corner.  Here is where we all screw up!  SEVERAL TIMES!  Don’t feel bad!  Mistakes here can be fixed easily enough.  Visualize your stitching line and put your finger there.  Open your strip up and see if it’s right.  If not, you will know that you need to stitch from the other corner to corner!  


Note the twist in the strip on top…THIS IS THE KEY TO THE WHOLE DEAL!


See what happened there?  A seam within a seam.  This is what you hope and pray doesn’t happen, but as you can see, sometimes it just does.   Just don’t sweat it…unless it’s for competition, my motto is, “If it looks good from a galloping horse, it looks good enough for me!”  Nobody is going to look that closely…PROMISE!  Sew corner to corner, again making sure when you open your strip up, everything looks correct.  You will know very, very quickly if it’s wrong.


Trim your seam allowance to 1/4”.


Finish sewing the binding to the back of the quilt, secure, and cut.  I usually finger press the seams of the binding trip open so there is less bulk in the binding.




Now it’s time to flip the quilt over to the front.  Fold the binding trip over to just cover the stitching line you just created sewing the binding to the back of the quilt.


I use stitch #4 on my BERNINA and change the stitch length to 2.0.  You want to select a less dense stitch.  Heed my warning!!!  I once put satin stitch hearts around a quilt for my sweet daughter, and it took roughly a week to get all the way around that sucker!  I feel that #4 is a good choice because it stitches rather quickly and looks great on both sides of the quilt.  When you use a straight stitch, it is very hard to get it to fall in the right place on the back of your quilt. 


Pedal to the metal!  It doesn’t really matter where you begin.  I line up the inside of the left toe with the edge of the binding.


Sew right up to the end of whatever side you chose as your first victim.  Cut your threads and remove the quilt.


Now for that pesky mitered corner.  Grab a scissors and press it in the fold to make sure you get a nice 45 degree.  Then you are just going to press it down over the stitched part.



Start sewing down this side, making sure to catch the end of your perfect corner.



Turn on the TV!  This is the easy part!  Keep sewing until you’re done!  I usually stitch a little bit of overlap so I can sleep better at night, knowing it’s secure!


That’s it!  Doing a binding by machine like this is the only way I do it!  Here’s why:

  1. The H-word…I hate handwork. 
  2. Durability…I machine wash and dry my quilts, and they would never hold up, given my relationship with the aforementioned H-word.
  3. Speed…I like to get done fast.




Try it on your next quilt!  I think you will agree, it’s the way to go! 

Happy binding, dear Pinecones!


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