How to sew binding by machine to your quilt

How to add binding to your quilt using your sewing machine

How to add binding to your quilt using your sewing machine

Would you like to learn how to add binding to your quilt using your sewing machine? This is the way I finish all of my quilt projects.

There are many ways to bind a quilt and if yo do a search you’ll probably find hundreds of binding tutorials. What I’m sharing with you today is the way that I bind my quilt projects.

How to add binding to a quilt by machine

For this tutorial, I’ll be sharing my favorite way to bind a quilt.

I don’t know about you, but I have so many quilt projects that I want to make and by sewing my binding on by machine, I can finish a quilt faster and then start the next one!

If you enjoy hand sewing or are going to enter your quilt in a quilt show then by all means hand sew it.

After you finish quilting your piece you’ll want to square it up. There are all kinds of rulers you can use, most of the time I use the one that I have handy on my cutting table which is 6″ x 24″.

Double fold straight of the grain quilt binding

This is a tutorial for double binding – there are two thicknesses. Single binding is done by using one layer of fabric and folding it over on to itself.

I use straight of the grain fabric strips for almost all of my quilts. If your quilt has curved edges then you will want to use bias binding.

I’ll be sharing a tutorial on how to make bias binding soon.

Width of binding strips: 

  1. For most of my quilt projects, I cut my strips 2½ inches by the width of the fabric. Note: for mini quilts and mug rugs I sometimes cut my binding strips 2¼ inches.
  2. Cut enough strips to equal the circumference of your quilt (add all the sides of your quilt together and add about 6  to 10 inches).

Piecing the binding strips together:

There are two ways to join your fabric strips. Normally I will sew mine together diagonally as shown below. 

There are times when I know I am short on fabric and then I will just sew a normal seam adding the strips together.

You might find it easier if you mark a diagonal line first. Continue doing this until all the strips have been added.

How to add binding to a quilt strips

You may want to pin the strips together before you stitch them. I am using my vintage 15-91 Singer sewing machine which I use for all of my piecing and quilting.

How to add binding to a quilt using your sewing machine sewing

Trim the corner off after stitching the seam.

How to add binding to a quilt cutting the corner off of the binding

Press your seam open to cut down on the bulk. Next, fold your strip in half lengthwise with the wrong sides together.

How to add binding to a quilt using your sewing machine fold strips

Attaching the binding to the quilt:

Place the binding on one side of your quilt close to the middle matching the raw edges of the binding and quilt together.

Leave about a 6-inch tail. If you have a walking foot you can use that, I am using an old vintage 15-91 Singer and the walking feet I have don’t really work well with it so I just use a regular foot. You don’t need a special foot to attach the binding.

I am using the original foot that came with my sewing machine so I mark a ¼ inch seam allowance with about four layers of Painters Tape.

You can pin your binding down, I’m really not much of a pinner. Attach the binding with a ¼ inch seam allowance.

How to add binding to a quilt sewing on a vintage sewing machine

Note: If possible you don’t want the seam to end up on one of the corners as it creates extra bulk.

What you can do is lay the binding around the quilt and if a seam ends up on a corner – change where you will start sewing the binding down.

Sometimes you only have to move it up or down a little bit. For small quilt projects, this is very easy to do.

What to do with the Corners:

You have several choices for continuing.

  1. You can remove the quilt from your sewing machine, lift the binding strip up, make a diagonal fold and then pull the binding strip down creating a fold and then place it under your machine foot, put the needle down ¼ inch from the top and stitch.
  2. Come to the corner, stop stitching and backstitch ¼ inch before the corner. Lift up your pressure foot, fold the binding diagonally and then fold it over creating a fold and continue stitching.
  3. Another technique is to sew to the corner, stop a ¼ inch from the edge. Next pivot the quilt and sew diagonally off the edge.

The last technique will help you successfully miter your binding when you turn it over and finish topstitching the binding.

How to add binding to a quilt sewing it on

Fold the binding back on itself as shown below.

How to add binding to a quilt corner stitching

Fold the binding strip down again aligning the raw edge of the binding to the raw edge of the quilt.

How to add binding to a quilt sew the corners

Starting ¼ inch away from the corner of the quilt and using a ¼ inch seam allowance, stitch your binding to the quilt. Stop ¼ inch away from the next corner and repeat these steps for all four corners.

How to add binding to a quilt continue stitching

When you get to the final side, stop about 6 inches from the beginning stitching. Fold both of the binding pieces to meet about in the center of the un-stitched section. Crease the pieces with your finger. Now cut both pieces about ½ inch from the fold.

I do ½ inch because if I make a mistake I have plenty of room to fix the error. Match the crease line and sew on it with the right sides together. Open and make sure that it will fit.

You don’t want it too big as you’ll get a fold and if it is too short you’ll be stretching your binding.

Once you know it will work go ahead and trim it to ¼ inch. Stitch straight across not diagonally.

As you use this method more and more you can just cut your pieces with a ¼ inch seam allowance, to begin with.

Finish sewing the binding on. There are other methods but this is the one I use all the time.

How to add binding complete the binding

Pressing:

Press your binding, then fold it over to the back and press again.

Pressing makes it much easier to do your stitching.

Fold the binding to the back of the quilt going just a little past the ¼ inch stitching line and pin.

I am using the Precision wool ironing mat, I am really impressed with this and will be sharing a review on it soon.

How to add binding to quilt ironing the binding

Next fold the binding backside of the quilt. Pin or clip in place. I am using the Clover  Wonder Clips which are so handy to have.

How to add binding to a quilt hold binding with clips

You can sew it to the front side of the quilt or you can sew it to the back side of the quilt.

The next photo shows you how I stitched the binding down from the front and also what it looks like on the back of the quilt.

How to sew binding by machine to your quilt

Both ways work but when you have sewn the binding to the back side of the quilt you will be stitching it down on the front side and it will be very obvious that you did it by machine.

I do both ways but folding the binding to the back and stitching from the front is my favorite way to do it.

Showing the back of the quilt and the binding

I pulled out the placemats from my Bargello Placemats tutorial to show some other photos of the back of the binding.

You can see that I didn’t get very close to the edge of the binding. It looks great on the front though.

Sample of how to sew binding by machine

This one shows how I folded too much of the binding to the back of the placemat. By rights I should have been measuring to make sure I had just a little over 1/4″ of binding showing on the front.

I have a habit of just winging it at this stage. The placemats are for us so I left it this way but if I were selling them I would have done a better job of stitching down the binding. 

I have a neighbor who doesn’t like the flap when binding is done like this and when I showed this to my daughter I found out she is sort of a perfectionist and doesn’t like the way this looks at all. (I wonder how many times she has checked the backs of ALL of the quilt projects I have made for her). My corners aren’t always perfect either.

Sample of how to sew binding by machine

Here you can see that I am stitching on the right side of the quilt. I pulled my little laser light out so you could see where you should stitch. My top thread is the color of the quilt top and the bobbin thread matches the binding.

I believe there are some new sewing machines that have a laser light built in. I bought my laser light from Harbor Frieght but unfortunately, I can’t attach it to my sewing machine as the area on my machine is curved. I know others have said they have been able to do this.

How to add binding to a quilt using a laser light

If you are just starting this method I recommend stitching on the back. Match your bobbin thread to the right side of the quilt, not the binding. The top thread should be the color of your binding. If you sew your binding on from the front then reverse this order.

Sew right along the edge of the binding just past the ¼ inch stitching line. When you get close to the corner stop and fold the bottom edge up and then continue sewing the binding over so you get a mitered corner then continue.

Here is a photo of the machine binding done on my River Whirls baby quilt tutorial.

Machine binding on the River Whirls Quilt

It takes some practice (I still mess up once in a while) to have all of the stitching on the front of the quilt instead of on the front binding. If it bothers you, you’ll have to rip it out. Personally I leave it.

This will always be my favorite way to sew on binding, once I get to this part of the quilt project I just want to be done so I can start on the next one!

If you are adding binding to a quilt that will go to a juried quilt show, you’ll want to sew your binding on by hand.

Other posts you might enjoy:

I hope I have covered everything about adding binding to a quilt by machine. If you have any questions be sure and let me know. Have fun quilting!

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41 Comments

  1. Thank you Connie – This tutorial is very precise and I will try it first on table runners.
    I have so much to learn. My first attempt at machine binding on a large quilt was a total disaster. I ended up unpicking, attaching the binding on the front then hand stitching on the back. That took me many hours, but I have a lot of patience. Fortunately I am also quite proficient at hand stitching and none of the hand stitches showed.
    One comment here mentioned using a decorative stitch. I will experiment with that as well.
    So many helpful hints from those who commented on this tutorial. Thanks everyone.

    Robyn from Australia

  2. I also do all my bindings by machine. I sew to the back and bring to the front, sometimes using a line of glue to help keep the fabric in place. Then I use my ditch quilting foot and run the piece that normally goes in the ditch along the edge of the binding – if I move the needle a little to the right it will sew just near the edge and looks really quite neat. If I had to hand sew the bindings I would never get any quilts finished – I am too slow and really not very good at it, as well as not enjoying the hand sewing.

  3. Hi, I have just started to machine bind some of my quilts. I find if I use a decorative stitch it looks more finished. A multi-stitch zig zag (3 stitches one way then 3 the other way). It holds the bind consistently and you can do it in matching or contrasting thread.

  4. Connie, great tutorial. The quilt at the top of this page, don’t know its name, but do you have a pattern for it? I can see it becoming a favourite of mine for scrap baby quilts.

  5. I piece my quilt tops as precise as I can, matching points and seams. I know machine binding is faster, but it looks counter productive to see a not so straight machine stitch along the binding whereas my hand stitching is hidden. Having said that, I will definitely try your method on smaller projects, just not my quilts.

  6. Hi Connie,
    Thank you for all this free help and information. It is so kind of you to share you experience with us. I haven’t sewn for many years and my husband bought me a new sewing machine which I love. I don’t have a free motion machine but I do like to make mats for family and friends with binding around the edge. Your tutorial was very helpful. Thank you once again for sharing.

  7. This has been very informative but I use a decorative stitch to finish off my binding, I sew the binding to the back 1st then press it around to the front, then I choose a decorative stitch like the feather or zig-zag to stitch it down on the front this gives my quilts a bit of wimsy.

  8. Thank you Connie for your excellent tutorial on binding. Your method is the way I’ve been taught all the way to the final stitching which I do by hand, just too fussy or haven’t had enough practice sewing the final step by machine. I’ll change that with my next project.

  9. Enjoyed hearing from another quilter who leaves “almost perfect” if for personal use. You and I seem to have similar values when it comes to our time. Enjoyed all the photos.

  10. I tried this method awhile ago and is much faster than hand stitching and if it is a bedquilt whose gonna look! And I am told every quilt has an error, so no worries! Joy

  11. I am so new to this and your tutorial is such a huge help. Thank you and I’m so appreciative. At the time my mother was quilting, I was working. Now she has passed and I’m not working. I didn’t get the chance to learn much from her. Now I’ve gotten the quilting fever. Guess it’s just in the genes.

  12. I prefer machine quilting my binding but I don’t like the flap on the back. I have been Sewing it on the back and bringing it to the front and sew with a decorative stitch that looks good from the front and back..

  13. thank you so much for the hint on the laser marker! I also appreciate your web site. I learn so much!

  14. Hello Connie, Would love it if you publish the website with the info pn dropping the feed dogs in the Featherweight. Love your tutorials, many thanks.

  15. One finish on a quilt I have not tried is the “knife edge”…I see it occasionally on quilts online, but I’ve never seen one in person. Since I quilt on my longarm, there is no way I would sew the sides or bottom of a quilt together prior to quilting. That said, do you know how to do that particular finish on a quilt that has been quilted on a longarm? Now my brain is trying to work out how to do it!!!

  16. Nice tutorial thanks! The only thing I now do is to use a thin line of washable school glue along the Back seam. A DRY iron will iron down & hold that seam nicely although I still use binder clips on corners. That way I know I’ve just covered that seam. This was a tup from a class years ago from an award winning quilter at IQS Houston. I figured if she does it so can I😉

  17. Hi Connie, great tutorial. I machine bind everything. I stitch the binding to the front, roll binding to the back and stitch in the ditch from the front.

  18. Question: After the last two folds (1/2 inch in the binding ends), cut, then do you sew the two ends across horizontally to end the binding? or do you do a diagonal fold somehow?

    1. Hi Connie…
      I have been quilting for ten years now, As a lazy Aussie bloke, I couldn’t be bothered hand stitching my
      binding, so I figured out how to machine bind them. And it’s just like your tutorial ! And my hand stitching is not that great anyhow.
      I always start on the top and fold over to the back. I have managed a technique that when I machine stitch on the back, the bobbin stitches are in the ditch so the stitching is practically invisible from the top. More luck than planning, but I take it anyway.
      Thanks for your site, love your work.
      Cheers, Shane.

  19. Thank you for the tutorial. I’d like to try this method and will definitely do so starting on one of my smaller projects.
    may i ask where you got the laser light? that looks like a wonderful tool! thank you

  20. Hello Connie, Excellent tutorial! I sew my bindings on by machine, yet mine never look as fantastic as yours. LOL. I definitely want to get the laser light for both of my sewing machines. Hopefully, that nice bright light would help me sew a straighter line while attaching the binding and it would also help, of course, if I would just slow down and take more time! LOL. I apologize for taking so long to reply, we had a nice snow storm come through and dropped about 4 inches. Our trees are not used to holding the weight of those four inches of snow. So, big tree branches were snapping like little tiny twigs do and we even had a lot of trees just breaking also. Now, everything is back to normal once again. Connie, did you receive the email reply I sent before we lost the internet? I had asked you a couple of questions so was just making sure if you received it before I emailed again. Thank you for sharing your tutorial! Have a fabulous day!

  21. Your timing of this post is perfect for me because I have several projects I need to finish this weekend (still have to machine quilt them). I plan to sew the binding on by machine. Thanks for this easy to understand tutorial.

  22. Thank you very much Connie Dear for another wonderful tutorial. I have sewn on a binding but then hand stitched it to finish. Machine stitchng it all would be so much faster. March and we will begin with more rain.

  23. Great tutorial! I also like to sew my binding totally by machine. I like to use a flanged binding so I can sew on the front of the quilt and line up the “valley” on the flange with the edge of the binding on the back of the quilt. The only hand-finished bindings are for show quilts!!

  24. How do you quilt with your elderly Singer? I would like to use my 201 to piece and quilt, but don’t know how to drop feed dogs, etc. Thank you for all the tutorials you do!

    1. Some machines you can drop feed dogs, There is also a cover that you might be able to buy to cover your feed dogs or a nice business card with will work, tape it down even an old credit card.

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