Quick Machine Binding Tutorial

For awhile, I’ve been saying that I would post a tutorial for binding using your machine.  No hand sewing.  I’ve highlighted the “Quick Tips“.  Some of the steps will be familiar to you, some may be totally “what???” … sew … here goes:

Step 1: Cutting the Binding

Figure out the circumference of your quilt.  (Measure both sides of your quilt, multiply that number by 2),   Add 14 – 20″ to the circumference.  If you want – you can use this handy app from Robert Kaufman.

IMG_1287Decide on the width of your binding.  If there are points on the sides of the quilt that I don’t want to lose, I cut my binding at 2″.  If there isn’t, I cut it at 2 1/4″.  For this tutorial, I cut the binding at 2 1/2″ because it’s flannel on both sides and a little thicker than most quilts and I don’t want to have to fight with it.

IMG_1292Step 2: Joining the binding

Join binding into one long piece with a 45 degree angle.  You can mark it or “eyeball” it.  Chain each piece of binding to the next.


Quick Tip #1:  Do NOT cut the chains apart (unless you want a huge tangled mess.)  Leave the chain joined together.  I know this is not the way most people do it – but try it!


Quick Tip #2: Do NOT fold binding in half

Do NOT press the binding in half

Your quilt is about 1/16th of an inch thick.  By folding and pressing the binding in half – you are forcing the binding to fold in a position that is actually pulling it to one side.  It will naturally lie smoother if you do not press it in half.

Step 3:  Sewing the binding onto the quilt

Fold the binding in half (DO NOT press the binding).

Leave approximately 8-10″ of a tail on the binding.  Start attaching the binding to the BACK of the quilt. Use a ¼” seam.  Sew about 3″. Cut the thread.  Check to see where the fold lands on the front.  It should cover the stitching, but you don’t want a lot of extra binding with no batting in it.  On this quilt I moved the needle over to the left so it was a wide ¼” seam.  {Janome 6500 – needle position 3.0, using the ¼” foot}

Quick Tip #3: ***   It’s a good idea to put a pin in approximately 16″ from where you started so that when you sew around the quilt, you leave a good amount of space for joining the binding. ***

When approaching the corner, stop ¼” from the edge.  (First picture below). Cut the thread.

The middle picture shows me folding the binding up at a 45 degree angle.  Place a ruler on the side of the quilt and line the binding up along the ruler.  This will help to ensure a perfect 45 degree angle.  The last picture above, shows the binding folded down.  Begin sewing approx. 1/8″ from the end and sew to the next corner.

IMG_1304Quick Tip #4As you reach the joined edges of the strips, use a pair of scissors and trim at approximately ¼” from the seam.

Finger press the seam open (sometimes it helps to hold this in place with a pin)

Continue to sew binding on, stopping approximately 16″ from where you started.



Step 4: The final joining of the binding

Pin the original tail in placeIMG_1313





IMG_1310 Quick Tip #5Take a piece of binding and place the width of it over the tail – having ~ 1/8″ over.  (This helps the binding to be “tight” and not loose and sloppy when you sew it on the quilt.

You can measure this if you want … it’s the width of the binding, subtracting 1/8″


IMG_1311  Bring the left over binding down to the bottom of the overlapping width of binding.  Trim the left-over binding at the bottom edge.

Join the binding together with a 45 degree seam (as you did when originally joining the binding strips).  Finger press seam open and finish sewing the binding onto the quilt.


Step 5: Clipping the Corners


Quick Tip #6:  On each of the corners, fold back the binding and clip the quilt top, batting and backing.  It’s a small clip, but it makes the world of difference when you are turning the corner of you binding!

***  Just be careful to not clip the binding  ***


Step 6: Press the Binding

IMG_1318Quick Tip #7: On the back side of the quilt, press the binding away from the quilt, ensuring that you do not press a fold in the binding.




Step 7: Glue the Binding in Place

I use Elmer’s School Glue (diluted 1:1 with water).   Start at a corner and on the right side of the corner (middle picture) run a stream of glue on the binding.  It tends to “bead up” as you can see in the picture.  Fold the binding over and iron in place.  IMG_1326

Ensure that you fold all of the corners in the same method. This will ensure that you don’t have a “bump” as you sew the binding down .




Step 8 Sewing the Binding onto the Front

With the binding glued into place, this step is simple, simple, simple!

You can use a variety of stitches to finish the binding.  When I first started sewing binding on by machine, I used a serpentine stitch.  It’s like a curvy zig-zag.  Other choices include a zigzag, a blanket stitch and a straight stitch or ??? Your choice.  IMG_1329

Step 9 Congratulate yourself – your binding is on and DONE!!!



13 thoughts on “Quick Machine Binding Tutorial

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  3. I have a pile of binding sitting on my ironing board waiting to be pressed in half. I don’t enjoy that step so I keep starting new projects rather than finishing the WIPs. I’m thinking I’ll have to try your method when I next find time in my sewing room to see if I can enjoy binding more than I do now!


  4. Great tutorial Gail. I have been using the glue for a while and LOVE LOVE that method! It sure makes things a ton easier.
    The only thing i didnt see was how well the decorative stitch lines up with the back seam (binding to quilt). That was the part i struggled with when I tried it. I was careful to ensure the front edge of the binding was ON the stitching line but it still didnt line up. I will confess that i use a wider binding (and wider seam allowance when i stitch it on) than you’ve suggested…I just like the look better.


    • Hi Terry … you made me chuckle … I’m not the perfect quilter – so I don’t worry about how it lines up on the back! 🙂 However, the serpentine stitch is a great one and usually is hidden in the binding in the back. Check out your Dad’s quilt – I’m pretty sure that’s how it is finished. And I’m sure that your Christmas gift was finished with a straight stitch. Also – remember that washing, along with the shrinking that happens hides a lot! 🙂

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