Now that your binding tape is attached to your quilt, it’s time to finish tacking it down to finish off the edges of your quilt. As with many techniques in quilting, there’s more than one way to do this, but this post will specifically tackle how to machine bind a quilt in a few easy steps.
Why Machine Binding?
If you’re researching how to bind a quilt, you’ll probably see a lot more tutorials on hand-sewing the binding down vs. machine binding. This is because finishing the binding by hand sewing is often seen as the "right" way to finish a quilt.
Why is that? Because finishing the binding by hand-stitching provides a cleaner finish with invisible stitches. However, machine binding a quilt is my preferred way to finish a quilt. I know this technique isn’t for everybody, and that’s okay. But sometimes, I just need to finish a quilt quickly, and machine binding is much, much faster!
I also like how strong and durable machine binding is (perfect for those baby quilts that will be washed a lot!), and it’s fast. Did I mention it’s fast? And I’ve found that you can get a clean and professional-looking finish with a bit of practice!
Also, once you’re comfortable finishing your binding with your machine, you can jazz it up with different embroidery stitches or thread colors. So, read on to learn how to machine bind a quilt!
Machine Binding A Quilt
Step 1: Make and Attach Your Binding
The first step is to make your binding and then attach it to the quilt. Usually, if you finish the binding by hand sewing, you will attach it to the front and fold it to the back. With machine binding, you can pick which side to attach your binding. In this case, I prefer to sew to the back and fold to the front, but it comes down to personal preference!
Step 2: Fold Binding Over and Secure
Once you’re all done attaching the binding, flip the quilt and gently fold the binding over the raw edge of the quilt. Ensure you aren’t pulling or stretching your binding, which can cause wrapped edges.
At this point, you can hold it in place with binding clips or with your fingers. I like to use my fingers and secure my start with 3-5 stitches, then backstitch, then start down the length of the quilt.
As you can see in the picture, I just hold the binding down with my fingers and make sure to line up the edge of the binding with the edge of my pressing foot so that my stitches stay straight. This does mean I have to go nice and slow, but it’s worth it!
Step 3: Miter The Corner
As you get close to a corner, about 3-4 inches away, pause and fold the corner over. To decrease bulk in the corner, I like to fold up the binding along the bottom edge and then fold over the side I’m stitching on. Use a seam ripper to hold the binding in place as you sew, keeping the corner nice and crisp.
Stitch up into the corner and stop with the needle down. Rotate the quilt 90 degrees, and keep sewing.
Step 4: Keep on sewing
Keep going like this, with the edge of the binding lined up with the inner edge of the pressing foot, nice and slow. The slower you go, the neater it’ll look, especially at the beginning. As you get more comfortable with this technique, you can go faster. Repeat Step 3 for all the corners. If you need to stop at any point, keep your needle down.
Step 5: Backstitch to finish
When you come back around to where you started sewing, continue past your start about an inch or two, then backstitch to secure your thread - and you’re all done!
While I love machine binding, we all work differently, so here are some additional tips!
Press Your Binding
If you find that your binding is stubborn and won’t stay folded over towards the right side of the quilt, you can iron it.
Place the quilt so the side you attached the binding to faces up, then press the binding outward with a dry iron.
Use Binding Clips
As you can see above, I don’t use binding clips, but these little guys can be super useful if you’re first getting started. They help keep the binding in place as you work. You don’t need to clip the whole edge; just work in smaller sections of 15-20 inches as you go.
Or Glue Baste
Alternatively, you can glue baste your binding down before sewing. This can lead to the neatest finish, but it can also be time-consuming. If you want to try it, all you need is some Elmer’s Washable School Glue, and you can use the Fineline glue applicator tip to control the glue application.
Apply a thin line of glue along the stitches that secure the binding to the front of the quilt, then gently fold the binding over the glue line and press with a dry iron to heat-set the glue.
You only need a little bit of glue for a secure hold while you sew! Once you wash your quilt, all of the glue will wash out.
And that’s it! Your quilt is now all done and ready to snuggle! As you can see in the pictures above, machine binding can look very clean with just a little practice! I hope you’ve found the series helpful — here are the links to the full series :)
Quilt Binding Series
- Quilt Binding - Part 1: Making the quilt binding
- Quilt Binding - Part 2: Attaching the binding to the quilt
- Quilt Binding - Part 3: Finish the binding by machine
- Quilt Binding - Part 4: Finish the binding by hand ~ coming soon