Learn how to machine bind a quilt in just a few easy steps! As with many techniques in quilting, there is more than one way to bind a quilt, but in this tutorial we will add A LOT of speed to the binding process by using our sewing machines from start to finish.
Previously on the blog we showed in a video tutorial how to sew binding on with a machine and then tack it down with hand sewing. To see that, check out the How to Sew Binding on a Quilt post.
But if you’re like me, sometimes you just need to finished that quilt FAST! This tutorial will show you a how to sew quickly and neatly to make beautiful binding that will be extra sturdy for many many years to come. Some of you may even prefer the aesthetic of machine stitches because you can use different embroidery stitches or thread colors to jazz up this part of your quilt. So friends, read on to learn how to machine bind a quilt, including a hack that will save time and help achieve more accurate results!
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Step 1: Cut and Prepare Binding Strips
First, you’ll need to cut and prepare your binding strips. Many patterns use 2 ¼” wide binding strips in their allowances, which I find works well for machine binding a quilt. For all the details on knowing how much binding you’ll need and how to join and fold binding strips, check out the first half of the How to Sew Binding on a Quilt tutorial.
Step 2: Sew Binding to Top of Quilt
There’s a really great video tutorial below that you can watch which walks through each of the steps for attaching binding to a quilt. The part about joining the binding tails together can be tricky to explain, but Suzy covers it perfectly at 4:31 in this video!
This part of the process is the same whether you are hand or machine binding a quilt.
Step 3: Press and Baste Binding
With the quilt top facing up, press the binding outward with a dry iron. Don’t skip this part - it will help make basting and sewing much easier!
Now for the basting trick that will eliminate the use of pins and clips to secure your binding in place! Drumroll please…it’s glue basting! Glue basting will help secure binding in place, while ensuring more accurate stitches as you machine bind a quilt.
My go-to glue for basting is Elmer’s Washable School Glue because it’s affordable and available just about anywhere. I also use the Fineline glue applicator tip shown below to control the glue application. 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.
Turn the quilt over so the backing is facing up. Apply a thin line of washable glue along the stitches that are securing the binding to the front of the quilt.
Without pulling or stretching, gently fold the binding over the glue line, ensuring that the binding fold covers the stitches by about ⅛ of an inch. Press with a dry iron to heat-set the glue.
Glue, fold, and press all the way around the quilt until the binding is fully basted.
Step 4: Sew Binding to Back of Quilt
By this point, your binding will look just about finished! All you need to do now is secure the binding with your sewing machine.
To machine bind a quilt, you will sew in the “ditch” between the binding and your quilt top. When you “stitch in the ditch,” your stitches on the front of the quilt will be hidden by the puff/rise of the surrounding binding and quilted top. You’ll only see stitches on the back of the quilt along the edge of the binding, which makes for a very clean, finished look.
A walking foot is helpful for this part since you’ll be sewing through a few layers of fabric and batting. To ensure that my stitches fall perfectly in the ditch each time, I like to align the inner edge of my binding (the part touching the ditch) with a part of my walking foot, then I adjust my needle so that it falls perfectly into the ditch as I sew along.
With your quilt facing up, stitch in the ditch along the perimeter of the binding. When you reach a corner, put your needle down and rotate the quilt to achieve a right angle in your stitching. Once you reach your starting point, backstitch a few stitches over your starting stitches to secure the binding in place.
Step 5: Check for Missed Areas On Your Machine Binding!
By nature of binding a quilt by hand, you’re able to ensure that the binding is securely stitched all the way around the quilt. However, when you machine bind a quilt, you will only see what you are sewing from the frontside of the quilt, and there’s a chance some of the stitches might not catch the binding in the back. It’s a good idea to check the back of your quilt to make sure the binding is attached all the way around.
If there’s a section of binding the stitches missed, it can easily be fixed! Make sure the binding is securely basted over the front binding stitches. Then, flip the quilt back over to the frontside and stitch in the ditch again, making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the section so it doesn’t come undone.
Now Machine Bind Another Quilt!
You did it! And now that you've done it once, you'll probably want to machine bind a quilt over and over. It's so easy! Have you ever used a sewing machine to bind a quilt? Do you think it’s faster to machine bind a quilt or hand bind a quilt? Have you ever glue basted your binding? Let us know in the comments!