Machine Binding a Quilt, a Tutorial

May 17, 2016By Heather JonesHome Decor, Quilting, Tutorial 24 Comments Opinion by Paid Consultant

I do all of the binding for my quilts completely by machine, instead of finishing it by hand. Traditionally, binding is sewn by machine to the front of a quilt, turned around to the back and hand sewn. The technique that I’ve developed is a bit different than binding is traditionally done, because I sew the binding on the back of the quilt, flip it around to the front, and then top stitch it down to finish it. The result is a clean finished edge that is more secure than it would be if I had sewn it by hand, and it takes much less time as well. Here’s how I do it.

Materials:

  • Brother PQ1500SLPRW, with quarter inch foot and pin feed foot
  • Quilted quilt
  • Fabric to make binding
  • Rotary cutter
  • Straight edge
  • Cutting mat
  • Coordinating thread
  • Pins
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Pencil
  • Chalk marker
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Optional: Brother Lock 1034D Serger

1
Square up your quilt and remove any excess fabric or batting with a rotary cutter and straight edge if necessary.

2
Cut strips of fabric to create binding. I use strips that are 2 ½” wide.

Tip: To calculate the amount of binding that you need for a project, measure each side of the quilt and add up those measurements. Then, add an additional ten inches to that number to account for the four mitered corners, and use that as the length of binding to create.

3
Prepare to sew the strips of fabric together to create a continuous length of binding. Place one strip over another, right sides together, and overlapping perpendicular to each other.

4
Use a straight edge and a pencil to lightly draw a line between the points where the bottom strip meets the top strip.

5
Pin the two strips in place.

6 detail
Sew the strips together, stitching directly on the pencil line, and backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam to lock the stitches.

7
Remove the strips from the sewing machine and remove the excess fabric with scissors, leaving a ¼” seam allowance.

8
Press that seam open with a hot iron.

9
After all of the strips are sewn together, make a 45 degree fold in the strip by bringing the wrong sides of the fabric together to form a diagonal crease, about 1 ½” from the top of the binding.

10
Press the fold with a hot iron.

11
Fold the binding in half along its length, lining up the raw edges of the fabric, and press with a hot iron.

12
Once all of the binding has been pressed, I like to gather it up and fold it over itself into a neat bundle that I can place next to my machine as I’m sewing it to the quilt.

13
Place the binding along the back of the quilt. Start in the middle of one side, line up the raw edges of the binding with the raw edges of the quilt, leaving the top of the binding with the 45 degree fold and a few inches below it free.

Note: The quilt in my example is only about 16” square, so I started to sew the binding rather close to the bottom edge. If I am working on a larger quilt, I like to start in the middle of it.

14
Using a ¼” seam allowance, begin to sew the binding to the quilt. Backstitch a few stitches to lock the seam.

15 detail
Continue to sew along the edge of the quilt until you are about a ¼” away from the bottom. At that point, stop sewing and leave the needle down. Then backstitch to lock the seam, snip the threads and remove the quilt from the machine.

16
Rotate the quilt so that the edge that you just sewed is on the top.

17 detail
Fold the binding up toward the top, creating a 45 degree fold, perpendicularly on top of itself. Run your fingernail over the fold to create a crease.

18
Then bring the binding back down on itself along the edge of the next side of the quilt to create a mitered corner. Hold in place with your fingers or a pin if you prefer.

19 detail
Bring the quilt back to the sewing machine and begin to sew the binding to the next side, starting at the top, and backstitching a few stitches to lock the seam.

20
Continue to sew the binding to the quilt, treating each of the four corners as we have above.

21
When you get back to the side of the quilt that you started on, stop sewing about 12 inches from where you started to attach the binding. Backstitch to lock the seam and remove the quilt from the sewing machine.

22
Here you can see how much binding is left unsewn.

23
Open the unsewn section of binding on the left hand side and place it so that the binding lays right side up along the edge of the quilt. Keep the binding taught and pin it in place.

24
You might notice that when the binding is pinned in place, that it will want to bring up the corner and edge the quilt. This is fine as the edge will lay down once the binding is finished.

25
Bring the unsewn section of the binding that is to the right (the end that you started with) and lay it over the pinned end of the opened binding. Pull that end of the binding taut and mark a light line where the diagonal fold touches the end of the pinned section of binding.

26
Here you can see the dotted line that I drew with a chalk marker.

27
Unpin the binding and line up the two ends so that they’re perpendicular to each other, just as when you constructed the binding from the individual strips of fabric.

28
Pin the two sides together, placing the crease on the top edge directly over the line on the bottom piece that you just marked.

29
Bring the quilt back to the machine and sew the ends of the binding together, using the fold on the fabric as a guide, and backstitching at the beginning and end to lock the seam.

30
Remove the quilt from the sewing machine and lay the unsewn section of binding along the edge of the quilt to check that it lays properly along the edge and is the correct length needed to finish the quilt.

31
Pick up the unsewn section of the binding and trim off the excess fabric with scissors, leaving a ¼” seam allowance.

32
Press the seam open.

33
Then fold the unsewn section of binding in half and press with a hot iron.

34
Pin the unsewn section of the binding to the edge of the quilt, lining up the raw edges of the binding with the raw edges of the quilt.

35
Bring the quilt back to the sewing machine and sew the rest of the binding in place, backstitching at the beginning and end of the seam to lock the stitches.

36 detail
36
Optional: I use a Brother Lock 1034D Serger to cover the raw edges of the quilt and binding. There are a lot of loose threads and by running them through the serger, everything is kept nice and tidy.

37
Turn the quilt over so that the top is facing up, and pull the binding up from the back so that it lays flat, extending beyond the edge of the quilt. Press in place with an iron.

38
Then fold the binding down over the raw edge of the quilt and toward the front of the quilt.

39
Press in place, and continue to do this all along the length of one side of the quilt.

40
When you get to a corner, open it up and press with an iron.

41
Fold the other edge of the binding so that it creates a 45 degree angle in the corner.

42
Press in place.

43
Use a thin strip of school glue to hold the fabric in place, once it is pressed towards the front. I run the glue along the threads from the serger, fold the binding over, and set with a hot iron.

Note: In the photo, small drops of glue are shown; use the tip of the bottle to spread them into a thin line of glue before heat setting.

44
Use a couple of small dots of glue in each corner to hold them in place. Continue this process until all the remaining sides of the quilt are glued and ironed so that the edges and corners of the binding are secured in place

45
Remove the quarter inch foot and place the pin feed foot on the sewing machine. This foot helps move all layers of fabric and batting through the machine. Be sure to adjust the pressure of the presser foot as well as the feed dog level to the settings required for use with this foot, referring to the settings in the manual.

46
Top stitch along the edge of the binding, using the edge of the pin feed foot as a guide.

47
Once you get to a corner, stop sewing and leave the needle down, and pivot the quilt so that the mitered edge is facing you. Sew two more stitches into the corner.

47 detail 3
Stop sewing with the needle down, lift the foot and rotate the quilt and sew back over those last two stitches, toward the next side of the quilt.

48
Pivot the quilt so that the foot is lined up with the next side of the quilt, and continue to sew along the edge of the binding. Treat each corner like you did above.

49
When you get back to the side of the quilt that you started on, sew over the first sew stitches that you made, back stitch a couple of stitches to lock the seam, and then remove the quilt from the sewing machine without using the automatic thread cutter.

50
Pull the threads so that they are about 3 inches or sew and use scissors to cut them.

51

52
Use a hand sewing needle to pull all loose threads to the back of the quilt and burry them in between the batting and the back of the quilt.

53
Your binding is finished! And your quilt is ready to go!

54
Here’s a closer look at a finished corner.

55
And here’s what it looks like from the back. This technique adds an additional line of quilting, as we aren’t trying to stitch in the ditch. I prefer to have that line of quilting on the back, which is why I sew the binding to the back and flip it to the front, rather than the reverse, which is how it is traditionally done.

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24 Comments

  • This looks great and very time saving i am going to use this method on my next quilt thank you…soozie

  • Very neat. I have a Brother and a Babylock emb. machine that use the same feet. I had not heard of a pin-feed foot. Where can I get one? Thanks for your time.

    • Hello Adelina, Thank you for your question. The pin feed and Pin-feed foot is only available on the Brother PQ1500SL and PQ1500SLPRW machines. The Pin-feed is built-into the machine. Best, Kimberli

  • That’s look so beautiful. I love this. I wish I can do this as neat as you did. Thanks for all the details.Kosie. Minnie

  • I don’t like the look of this method from the back- would love to find a method that centers the line of stitching on the binding front and back, til then I stick to hand stitching!

    • I agree with you! I always do hand sewing of the binding. I think the thing that works for her sample quilt is that the quilting of the piece is linear. If it had curvy quilting, the stitching line on the back would look out of place. I do like the pressing methods and the glue would be helpful.

    • On a patterned backing it won’t show. You could also use a bit narrower binding strip so the stitching falls in the binding seam line on the back.

  • Thank you so much for this! The pictures and accompanying information is terrific. I have developed stiffness in my hands and hand sewing is becoming less of an option (especially on large quilts). Now I’ll be able to finish them more easily and quickly. Thank you again!

  • This is an excellent tutorial. I have been watching videos the last few days for binding and this far exceeds any I have watched. Love the fact that it can also be printed out in a pdf format. Thank you for taking the time to do this tutorial.

  • I really appreciate this! I am new to quilting. And have battled the binding. This looks so much easier. I can’t wait to try it out.

  • I have a Nouvelle 1500S Brother sewing machine and cannot raise the pin feed eventhough it has the pin installed and I try all the positions of the lever, what am I doing wrong

  • Great tutorial. Just in time. I’ve just finished the top to a quilt and didn’t know what to do next. I used this technique once in a class a few years ago. And I couldn’t remember. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Great video! Thank you for posting this, I love to make quilts, but binding not so much. With your tutorial I may have greater success.

  • What a great tutorial! I love the look of handsewing the binding, but my stitches cannot hold up on a quilt that is used and frequently laundered. And it takes sooooo long! This look is every bit as nice, but so much more secure and faster. Thanks you for the clear instructions. I’ve saved them for quick reference.

  • Excellent tutorial, Heather! I use this method, too. I had always done the traditional stitching on the front and hand-sewing on the back, but when I began making charity quilts I felt the need to speed things up a bit. I’ve found that with practice, using this method looks just as nice and has the advantage of saving my arthritic hands! It also looks nice using decorative stitches.
    I don’t have a pin-feed foot, but I use my Stitch-in-the-Ditch foot attached to my Mu-Vit foot. Just move your needle a couple of clicks to the right and it will hold you in a perfectly straight line each time.
    Thank you for sharing this technique so clearly and concisely!!

  • Hi! At the very bottom of the article on the left side there is a print button. As I am planning on making some lap quilts to donate to a Senior Center this fall, I’m looking forward to trying this method. It would definitely speed things up in finishing the quilts. Thank you

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