Skills and Techniques

Machine Stitched Binding Technique

There are many ways to do a binding that are good. I want to share the techniques I use for creating and sewing binding. This is for the big queen (almost king) size quilt. I encourage you to research a bit and find as many different bindings as you can and try them on a placemat size quilt. This way you know what feels comfortable to you.

In my art quilts that are small, I cut strips of fabric that are 2″ wide. For this project, I cut them 2-1/2″ wide just to be proportionate. When cutting your strips, make sure you cut them salvage to salvage or it is sometimes called width of fabric (WOF).

You may be asking “How do I know how many strips to cut?” Here’s the formula I use:

  1. Measure the top or bottom and one side. For this example, let’s say that the quilt is 50″ x 50″. There are 4 sides to a quilt. The equation would be: 50″ x 4 = 200″
  2. Measure the width of your fabric. (In this example we are using a 40″ width.) Take the 200″ and divide by your width of fabric (40″) to equal 5 strips of fabric need to be cut. (I usually add one more strip for extra).
  3. Take that number of strips needed and multiply it by the width of each strip desired. For example: 5 strips x 2-1/2″width = 12-1/2″ of fabric needed for this binding.

Now you have all the fabric you need and the strips cut. It’s time to sew the strips together.

2-1/2″ strips cut for quilt.

These strips need to be sewn together. I sew them at a 45 degree angle. This will disperse the bulk of the fabric in the seam allowance as to not create bulky spots on the binding. If you are a beginner, I encourage you to mark and pin everything until you are comfortable. The directions are under each picture.

1. With the wrong side of fabric facing up, place the 45 degree angle on the short straight edge of the strip and move the ruler to the bottom corner of your fabric strip.
2. With the ruler still laying down as it step 1, mark the line.
3. Place a second strip perpendicular to the first strip with right sides facing together. Be sure to line up all the edges, pin on either side of the line and sew directly on the line.

The previous 3 steps are for beginners. The next is for more advanced and using the markings on my machine.

1. Over lab two strips with right sides facing each other. This time don’t line up the edges. Off-set the edges a little bit to create tiny 90 degree angles as shown above.
2. Place the top 90 degree angle to the needle and under the presser foot. Then use the bottom 90 degree angle to line up at the center needle mark on your machine. (Not all machines have this mark. Bernina’s do have it. You can put tape or a mark on the extension table that mimics the line I use.) Sew from the point of one 90 angle to the other 90 degree angle. I like to chain stitch the strips all together.
3. After all of the strips are sewn together, I cut them apart and cut off the point, leaving more than 1/4″ of the fabric for seam allowance. I do use scissors in this case because accuracy in cutting at this point will not make a difference in my opinion.
4. Press the seam allowance open and press strip in half with wrong sides together, creating a 1-1/4″ strip.
I tend to roll my binding strip as I go to keep it neat.
5. Sewing the binding onto the quilt. I start by sewing the binding onto the back of the quilt. I stitched a scant 1/2″ seam allowance and checked it by folding the binding over to the other side of the quilt and making sure that the folds meet up and cover the stitch line.

Leave 6-8″ of the binding free and start sewing onto the back of the quilt.

The above slide show has step-by-step photos of how to fold and sew the corners and I explain it below. I wanted to give you as many photos I could to help explain what is hard to explain in words.

1. Stop sewing 1/2″ before the edge of the quilt. (second photo)

2. Fold the unsewn part of the binding back at a 45 degree angle and finger press. (3rd photo)

3. Fold the unsewn part of the binding back lining up the raw edge of the binding to the raw edge of the quilt and leaving the fold along the first raw edge of the quilt that is already sewn (6th photo)

4. Starting at the edge of the quilt where the fold is, continue sewing that scant 1/2″.

5. Repeat these steps and stop 6-8″ from where you started sewing the binding.

Joining the binding is another tricky spot. Once again, I am providing a bunch of similar photos to help to understand the written directions below.

  1. If necessary, trim the loose end on the left so that it falls approximately in the middle of the open 6-8″. Lay it flat against the edge of the quilt and pin. (2nd photo)
  2. Use a scrap piece of the binding (about 2-3″ long), open it up and pin the scrap piece on top of the already pinned binding. Line up the long edge of the scrap binding to the end of the already pined binding. Pin the scrap on the left side. (3rd photo)
  3. Lay the right side of the unsewn binding over already pinned binding from step 2. (4th photo)
  4. Fold the top piece so that the fold is matching the edge of the scrap piece underneath (5th photo). Finger press.
  5. Unfold that top piece and cut on the fold. Unpin everything. (both of the pieces are suppose to over lap at this point for sewing room)
  6. Lay the edges of the binding facing together and open up (wrong side of fabric facing up).
  7. Pick up the edges slightly and match the edges together (the quilt will seem to be shorter, just push it out of the way).
  8. Rotate the end on the right 1/4 turn away from you. The ends are now at a 90 degree angle from each other. Line it up the same way when the strips were joined together. (The right side strip can be marked at that 45 degree angle if you wish to have that line)
  9. Pin on both sides of the “to be” sewing line. (Tip: the binding strips are at a 90 degree angle and you will be sewing across to form an “A”.)
  10. Sew ends together
  11. Unpin and check to make sure the sewing was done right by folding the binding in half lengthwise (the way it will be sewn to the quilt). It should lay flat. (photos are in the below slide show)
  12. Open up and trip the corner, finger press seam open
  13. Continue to sew the unsewn section of the binding.
  1. Roll the binding over to the right side of the quilt. It should be snug around the edge and slightly covers the previous stitching. (6th photo)
  2. I use a foot with a flange to help line up the binding when I fold it over. I also move my needle to position 2 to the right. (photo7)
  3. When I get to the corner, I pull out the binding on the other side of the quilt and this should create a 45 degree angle on the right hand side. I continue to sew straight to just about 1/4″ from the edge of the quilt. (photos 11 & 12)
  4. I rotate the quilt 1/4 turn, fold the binding over aligning the corner to the previously sewn binding, and continue sewing until completely sewn around.
  5. Whew! Lots of information!

Thank you for reading my blog! Hope you try this method on your next quilt.

Have a wonderful day!

Pam

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