Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Tips - Sewing Binding by Machine

My most used binding method is sewing the binding to the back by machine, then topstitching on the front by machine.  I've gotten pretty darn good at this, so wanted to share some tips with you - at the end you will find a link to a free downloadable pdf of the information so you can keep it handy.


No Hand Stitch Binding, Machine stitched on Front and Back


1. Square up and trim your quilt top – but first look at step 2. If you don’t want to cut the points off you need to trim the top so you have the correct seam allowance.


2. Cut your binding. The key to a great looking binding is to know your walking foot. Before you start cutting, you must figure out how wide your binding will need to be. The easiest way to be precise in this step is to measure how wide your seam will be to the edge of your walking foot. Simply sew a sample seam and measure. Every foot is different. For a ¼” seam, cut your strips 2”. If your seam is between ¼ and 3/8 (5/16) cut your strips 2.25”. For a 3/8” seam, cut your strip to 2.5”. These instructions are for a snug binding with very little overlap. If you want a little more overlap, simply cut your strip ¼” wider.

3. Cut enough strips to equal 2 x the length plus 2 x the width, plus 16” extra (at the minimum - a little extra length never hurts!)

4. Prepare binding: Join your binding with diagonal seams to minimize lumps. Trim your seam to ¼”, press open. Press the entire strip in half lengthwise.


5. Sew Binding to back of quilt. Start about ¼ of the way down one side of the quilt, leave 8” of binding free, pin here - then audition the binding placement by holding it to the edge all the way around the quilt. Make sure that none of your joins falls at a corner, and make sure you have figured your length correctly. Adjust your starting point if needed, then proceed to stitch where pinned. If you keep a slight tension on your binding as you sew, this will keep your quilt from rippling on the edges (but not too much, or your quilt will draw up at the edges!)


6. Mitering corners: As you come up to the corner, decrease your stitch length slightly. Stop stitching one seam length from the edge.

Rotate your quilt 90 degrees and backstitch off the edge of the quilt.

Raise your needle and pull the quilt towards you slightly (you can cut your thread here or not – I prefer not to).

Pull your binding up and away from you so the cut edge lines up with the side of the quilt.


 Fold your binding down at the top edge of the quilt, lining the cut edges with the edge of the quilt and the fold at the top edge.

 Continue sewing down to the next corner, repeat for all four corners.


7. End your stitching about 8-12 inches from the point that your binding starts from, cut your thread and lay your quilt flat on the table.

 I hope the pictures help you see how to do this- it’s a little tricky, but once you get the hang of it you will be able to join your ends perfectly every time! Pull both end of the binding flat against the quilt so they overlap.

Make sure you pull them snug so your binding will lay flat. 


Cut the top edge of your binding off so it overlaps the bottom by exactly the width of your binding (before it was pressed in half). 

I try to do this in the center of my gap so I have more room to manipulate the ends when I sew them together.

Open the ends of the binding and turn them so they face with right sides together.

Mark a diagonal seam, pin, and stitch.


Before you trim, check that the binding fits properly, then trim, finger press seam open and finish stitch the binding to the quilt.
8.  Turn the quilt over to the top side. Top stitch the binding with a matching thread. I like to use my normal presser foot on my machine for this, but if your walking foot allows for good visibility it could be used. Slow and steady does the best job, and it helps if your foot allows you to see the edge of the binding.
9.  When you get close to the corner prepare to sew the miter.

 Fold the binding up at the bottom first.
Then fold the side over, and carefully stitch until you get to the corner.

 I make a back stitch before I pivot, and stitch one stitch forward and one back after I turn the quilt to make sure the corner is secure.



10. Alternative finishing methods and tips:


Use a decorative stitch to catch the free edge of the binding. Try a blind hem stitch instead of top stitching. Many machines have a variety of decorative stitches that can be used to sew down the edge, making a unique and attractive finish.

You can also sew the binding to the top as in the traditional method, press the binding to the back and top stitch along the edge of the binding on top.

To make sewing the free edge easier you could use basting glue or use a zig-zag stitch to sew a fusible thread along the edge of the quilt to catch the free edge of the binding. You can also use pins or clips to hold the edge in place to make it easier to stitch.

I hope you enjoy this tutorial! I find that doing my bindings by machine is fast and looks great, and am happy to share how I do it.  If you would like a downloadable PDF of this tutorial you can get it here.  Let me know your opinion - have you tried binding by machine and what do you think?  

1 comment:

sally johnson said...

This was one of the better tutorials on binding I have ever watched, thank you for your blog post