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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Machine Binding Supplies
- Walking foot (check your machine manual or your local sewing machine dealer if you need help)
- Rotary cutter
- Cutting mat
- Fabric scissors
- Washable glue (like Elmer’s School Glue or Roxanne Glue-Baste-It)
- Bonus notion: Precision glue applicator (like Pen + Paper Fineline Glue Tips)
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!
19 thoughts on “How To Machine Bind a Quilt”
Using the Elmer’s glue is a great idea but where do you get the fine line tip for the bottle? I have used this method but have always had so much trouble with the binding slipping on the back so that the stitches need to be redone. Thanks for this tutorial I will be sure to try it.
Hey Suzie, I like to use this glue that comes with a fine tip. In this tutorial, Erin uses this tip on an Elmer’s glue bottle.
Love how versatile school glue is. Great tute! Thanks.
I’ve tried to machine bind quilts in the past and didn’t like the results. I’ve taken it out and resorted to hand binding. Your explanation and pictures are perfect! Thank you so VERY much for posting this demonstration.
Great glue tip. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you so much! Great instructions l, I’m anxious to try this.
Nice tutorial! Thank you!
I started using this method when I was sewing childrens quilts for donation. Makes for a sturdy binding that will last! I haven’t used glue basting but may give it a try, along with your method of joining binding ends. Always learn something new from your blogs, thanks!
Another great tutorial by @SuzyQuilts. On your sample quilt in this tutorial, did you use a template for quilting the cloud like pattern or was that a computerized long arm program?
Awww thank you! That is an edge-to-edge pattern by a longarm quilter.
Thank you for this information! I have never been happy with machine sewing my binding, but with these awesome tips, like the glue and the tip used, I’m excited to try again!
Thanks for the great instructions! I have always hand finished my bindings but I will definitely give this method a try! BTW I love the fabric you used in this quilt, is there any way we can see the whole quilt?
I’ve been using this method for a while now and it is THE best, in my opinion! Especially for wall hangings, it results in perfect corners on the front. If anyone is hesitant to use glue, you can follow this same process but instead of glueing down, pin away. It works just as well. Thanks, Suzy!
I’ve glue basted when piecing blocks for t shirt quilts – but never thought to do it for binding. What a great idea!
I love the idea of using school glue when machine binding a quilt. When I’m crunched for time, I machine bind my quilts but have always used clips to hold things in place. Talk about time consuming! Sometimes I wonder if hand stitching might actually be quicker (and less frustrating). Now with this glue hack, I’m looking forward to giving this a try! Thank you for another great tutorial!
Great tutorial – thank you! I had carpal tunnel when I first started quilting in 2013 so hand binding was pretty painful. I once had a quilt machine-quilted by a well known online quilty store. I saw how it was done and have been machine quilting with a zigzag or wavy line ever since. HOWEVER, recently (post carpal tunnel surgery) I used the big stitch binding method (inspired by your hand stitching tutorial) on two quilts – and I love the results – faster than regular hand binding and gives that wonderful home-made look. Seems glue basting would be helpful for hand binding when traveling…have it all ready to sew and easy to manage on a long car ride.
So I tried your method and it worked however, I was not happy with the back as I had cut my binding at 2 1/2″ and there was just too much binding showing on the back. The front looked great and I did not get any tucking as I have in the past. I think that was due to the gluing. I will try next time with 2 3/8″ strips and see if I like that better. Thanks for sharing this method as I am a longarm quilter and I was able to sew my binding on while on the longarm which was a tremendous time saver!
Hi, Pamela! I used to use 2 1/2″ strips for my binding, but I had the same problem with excess on the back. I’ve since switched to 2 1/4″ strips and haven’t looked back!
Thank you for this great resource. I have used these instructions for creating binding and for sewing onto the quilt. I had a lap quilt/wall hanging quilt that I needed to get into the mail, so I had to finish the binding in a hurry. I learned so much about using glue and pressing to seal the glue. Wow! What a new concept (never thought about sealing the glue). I am not very good at stitching in the ditch… maybe using a different foot and practicing. It would have taken me days to finish the binding by hand (well, that’s what my experience has been before 😉). Your instructions were perfect! Love You Two.