Favorite Quilt Machine Binding Method
Unless I’m making a commissioned quilt, I bind my quilts by machine. I’ve tried many methods but while watching The Machine Embroidered Quilt with Eileen Roche on Craftsy, she casually made mention of the method I show here. She was like “blah, blah, I use this type of foot and no big deal…” I was all, “WHAAAT? SHUT UP! INGENIOUS!” Totally changed my binding world.
Construction of the binding strip is the usual method. I start with 2.5″ strips and sew them together, end-to-end, right sides together (RST), on a 90 degree angle. After the final strip is attached, as I pull them off the machine, I use scissors to trim the excess to a ¼” seam and trim the top dog ear. Then I fold the strip in half wrong sides together (WST) and iron. When I finish the last part of the binding to attach it to a quilt, I like to use The Binding Tool. I absolutely love that thing and it never fails me. The directions say to leave a 10″-12″ tail before you start sewing. I sew the binding to the front of the quilt with the raw edge on the outside edge, center fold toward the inside of the quilt, using a 3/8″ seam. I stop ¼” before the end of the quilt and do a couple of back-stitches. I usually put in a pin so I don’t go past the ¼” stopping point. The fabric in the image below is actually a bit short so I measured to the end of the batting. Not sure how that wonkiness happened. Oh well, it won’t be seen once it’s bound. At the corners, I backstitch a couple of stitches 1/4″ from the end, remove it from the machine, and then I pull the end of the binding so it is horizontally straight out to the right side of the quilt. I put my left fingers on the edge of the quilt and then fold the binding back over my fingers to continue down the next side. The fold creates the mitered corner. I normally start sewing about 3/8″ down with a backstitch and then continue down the side. I usually put a pin over the fold on the corners to secure the binding so it doesn’t shift as I tack it down. As I near where I started sewing the binding on, I need to leave a 12″ opening and a 10-12″ tail at the end. It helps to use a pin to mark your stopping point. To use The Binding Tool, the instructions have you butt the straight edge up where you stopped sewing. Then fold the tail over the top of the tool and I use a Frixion pen to mark where it says to on the tool. This tool can be kind of confusing until you get the hang of it. You make a mark in the same spot where the tool says “Mark Here” regardless of which direction the tool is pointing, but where you continue the drawn line that you will cut on, is different depending on the direction the tool is pointing. When the flat end is to my right, I (point is pointing left) I leave the mark I made on the fabric under the mark line on the tool and draw the line I will cut on following the 90 degree angle. When I have the flat end of the tool on my left, (tool is pointing right) I put the point of the tool on the mark I made and then draw the rest of the line from there. If you put the mark you made on the fabric even with the mark on the tool again, your binding will be two inches too long. Believe me! I’ve done it many times. It doesn’t matter which end does what, but they must be different with the tool’s tip on the mark on one side and the mark lines even on the other. I hope that’s not too confusing. For your first attempt, I suggest you make up a dummy first to get the hang of it. But once you do, you won’t go back. After I cut on the lines, I usually use a couple of pins to simulate the seam to make sure everything fits, isn’t twisted, etc. Once I’m happy and I think it will fit, I sew it together. The outer seam below is where I sewed the binding strips together (just so you don’t get confused). But the seam I’m sewing is the one to finish putting the binding together. It’s just a tad bigger than ¼” to make sure the binding fit perfectly without any ripples. I trim all the corners right next to the seam without cutting through it so the mitered corners will make a nice 45 degree angle when the binding is folded over. Sorry for the blur. I just couldn’t get the phone to focus for some reason. Before I fold the binding over the back, I iron it out on the front. I make sure the miters on the corners are nice and flat so they look great on the front. I have a couple of secret weapons for my machine binding method. One tool I use is either Heat and Bond or Steam-a-Seam. Either works well. I make sure to fold the binding over the back of the quilt so it just covers the original stitching line and the bond is hidden inside the fold. Iron, stick, done. Boom. Seriously, you simply can’t get this great of a corner with pins. I refuse to use them any longer when I machine bind. The next secret weapon That I learned in my Craftsy class is …wait for it…a Blind Hem Foot!! I use the type of foot that has a little notched flange inside. That flange pushes the edge of the binding over just a tad so I can stitch in the ditch on the front with an invisible stitch. The toe of the foot is the guide to make sure you stay in the ditch. This works perfectly every time! Here’s the finished product, front and back! This whole process took about 2 hours to complete from start to finish.
Here’s my finished quilt! It’s a Beach Party!
I hope you give this method a try and enjoy this finishing process as much as I do!