Machine Quilt Binding 101 + Quilt Binding DIY


A few weeks ago we showed you how to take advantage of ‘the lovely cheater quilt’ and promised to return with instructions for how to bind that bad boy. Since it was a cheater quilt, we know you are down with a good short-cut so let’s start with the fastest way to bind a quilt, by machine of course! But first, here are some simple instructions for making your own quilt binding.

You can always buy quilt binding at the store but it’s so easy to make and it’s such a nice way to add some personality to your quilt. There are lovely choices to accent the Storyboek Cheater fabric but I didn’t have any on hand so I used this old Joel Dewberry Modern Meadows and love the unexpected combo. Here’s how to make your own quilt binding…

1. Wash and iron your fabric. The strips for your binding are going to be cut perpendicular to the selvage (the edge with the writing) This is called cross-grain. If you stretch your fabric, you will find that the cross-grain has a little give… more stretch than long way and less stretch than the bias (diagonal.) Cross-grain has the ideal amount of give for quilt binding. If you want to cut on the bias for artistic purposes, I don’t think it’s a big deal, but I’m also not very strict with my quilting rules.

So first you have to remove the selvages. The easiest way to do this is to lay your fabric out with the selvages on a straight edge. You can fold fabric to cut multiple layers at once but make sure it is VERY straight.

Cut. This cut edge will eventually be the short ends of your fabric.

Fold your fabric over once or twice more, parallel to the selvage. Make sure it’s very straight.

At a precise right angle, trim the edge of your folded fabric.

This Simpli-EZ Ruler by Simplicity really helps at the perfect 2.5″ width.

Cut strips of fabric at 2.5″ wide. Some people prefer 2.25″ but 2.5″ is easier and I like a fatter binding.

Make sure you have enough strips to go all the way around your quilt plus at least 1 foot.

Take one strip right side up and lay it horizontally.

Lay a second strip over, right side down, vertically, with the edges aligned.

Pin and draw a guideline from corner to corner.

sew along guideline.

Cut off tip leaving 1/4″ seam.

Open and see that you have a strip.

Flip it over and press your seam open. (You can do this all at once when you are done.)

Repeat until you have a long enough strip to go all the way around your quilt loosely, with at least an extra 12″ to spare.

Fold your binding in half and iron. If you have a Simplicity Bias Tape Maker
, this is another great time to pull it out and use it with a 2-1/2-Inch Quilt Binding Tip.
This is an easy job for a regular old iron too.

Now you have a pile of pretty quilt binding. Time to attach it!

Before you get started, make sure your quilt edges are nice and straight with squared corners and even layers. Clean it up, if not.

Start with the cut edge of your strip aligned with the edge of your quilt top and leave a tail of about 6.” Start in the middle of the quilt on the bottom edge

Leaving 1/4″ seam, start sewing the binding to the quilt. Great time to utilize that Quilting Foot.

When you get to a corner, stop 1/4″ short of the edge and do a back and forth stitch to secure.

Remove quilt from machine and turn.

Fold loose binding up over the edge just sewn at a 90 degree right angle.

Holding that angle in place, fold the strip down to continue along new edge.

Starting 1/4″ from end and with 1/4″ seam, sew along the remaining 3 sides using the same corner technique.

When you get back to the original side, leave about 6-8″ unsewn.

Lay quilt on a flat surface. You want to cut the two ends so they overlap EXACTLY the width of your original binding strips. So 2.5″ in this case. The ends must be perfectly straight.


Now, open the ends up and overlap them at a 90 degree angle just like you did when you made your strips.

Pin securely and mark with a line from corner to corner.

Carry carefully to machine and sew along line.

Turn right side out and make sure your binding lays flat.

Sew the rest of the binding down with back stitches at start and finish to secure.

Turn the binding up. Starting to look pretty, right?

Flip your quilt over and wrap the binding up over the open edge. Be sure that you are covering the stitch lines showing from the other side, that is the line you will use to sew on the binding.

I love to use these Clover Wonder Clips to hold my binding. The way the tips line up, you can see exactly where your stitches are going to come through. Love them. Great for oil cloth and holding glue projects in place too. You can just use pins tho, just make sure the folded over binding covers your original stitch lines.

Now flip back over to the front and stitch exactly in the fold of where the binding meets your quilt… or “stitch in the ditch” as they say.

A corner is coming! without taking the quilt out of your machine, flip the end up…

Smooth the fabric up, and fold over to make a nice tight corner.


Now, when you sew to the corner, don’t take the quilt out of the machine, just end with the needle down at the corner, lift the presser foot and turn the quilt with the needle down. Lower presser foot and continue. Make sure you are catching the edge of the binding tape on bottom.


When you get back to your start point, do a few back and forth stitches to secure and you are finished! Unless… You missed the back of the binding in a few spots. Now you have the option of going over them again in the machine but if it’s just a small spot, it’s a great time to practice your blind stitch. Which, by the way, is how you would have sewn the entire binding if you were to hand bind. Here’s what you do….

Knot your need and thread and pick up a little piece of the fabric inside the binding so your knot won’t show.

Now with very small stitches, pick up a little bit of the quilt and the very edge of the binding.

Exit your last stitch between the binding and quilt. Tie a knot very close to end.

Run needle back through space you just exited and through binding. Snip thread tight against fabric, trapping knot under binding.

And you are ready to cuddle! Enjoy!

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32 Comments

sarah

I was wondering how to do the binding on quilts!!! Holy crap, you girls are lifesavers!!!! If it weren't for your site, I wouldn't have learned most of the stuff I know about sewing now! I am so excited to try this- it's 4am and I am seriously considering going into my bedroom and dragging out my scrap bag to make a quilt!

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Krista S.

Awesome tutorial!!! I've seen quite a few tutorials on binding and this is the best!!! Something that might help a first timer is, after you sew binding on one side instead of just folding over to the other side, you can also iron it to make it stay where you want a little better. Also, when folding the corners it is best to make sure you fold the side you are working on last so that it is on top. That way your machine won't bunch up and mess up the corners….hope that made sense :) thanks again!

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Casey

THANK YOU! Here's a question – sorry if it's trivial but I'm horrible at math and relatively new to quilting…how much fabric should I buy for a 44" X 44" quilt? I will make it just like your tutorial stated – 2.5 inches wide and with 12" extra at the ends…

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Jen

I was planning to attempt to make enough bias tape to bind the two smallish quilt projects in progress, and this seems to save that step. Yours is the third how-to that says I don't need to bother with bias binding, that cross grain will suffice. Thanks for the how-to, and for saving me from tearing my hair out!

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Becky

I get questions all the time about how to bind a quilt. Your way is usually how I do mine, and I really love your tute, so will pass it along–thanks!

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Jen

I've wanted to attempt a quilt, but binding it seems a bit scary! Thanks for showing how to do it and making it look more manageable.

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Angela

Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you! I have a quilt I started before my daughter was born, that's been sitting in a closet for almost exactly two years, because I didn't know how to bind it. And as of yesterday, it's done! I guess it will make an excellent 2nd birthday present in a couple of weeks. :)

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Debbie J.

I wanted to thank you for this tutorial. I used it to bind a queen size quilt and was pleased with how it turned out. Such a time saver. I also linked to this tutorial to give credit where credit is due. :o)

Thanks again.
Debbie J.

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MileHighPrincess

Wonderful tutorial! Easy to follow step by step and the pictures are a tremendous help!
Thanks, your a lifesaver.

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Rachel Richardson

Thanks for the fantastic tutorial. I’ve just about completed by my first quilt and have attached the binding to one side of the quilt. I was following another blog tutorial on how to bind and the process was very much the same as yours, except they were instructing you to handsew the binding to the back of the quilt as the last step. I’m not the most patient of people and my quilt has been sitting there for two weeks already with the binding half done just waiting for this final step to be completed, but handsewing just sounds so tedious and boring to me so haven’t had the strength to start it yet! Your tutorial on machine sewing the binding to the back of the quilt whilst still generally hiding the stitches looks so much easier and (more importantly) quicker!! Will definitely have to have this quilt finished this Easter weekend. Thanks very much!!

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Becky McCune

OH MY GOODNESS…..you photo step by step is the answer I’ve been seeking. Thank you for your wonderful explanation and attention to details….recently I began to make quilts for Project Linus and my corners were not to my satisfaction….thanks for the my answer to this problem. THANKS

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Vicki

This looks like a wonderful tutorial, but I got lost in the very beginning! I couldn’t tell which way you folded the fabric and which side you cut it from. The way it looks here, it seems like you cut it parallel to the selvage. Did you turn it at some point?

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Bobbi

Thank you so much for this tutorial-it is the easiest to understand binding one that I have found.

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Carmen

Been sewing for 32.5 years and never made a quilt even though I’ve always wanted to. This week I did one and it looks pretty good (thank God, I had the hardest time trying to figure out how to do the binding as I looked on the internet and found you, I am thankful, it was much easier than I imagined. THANX

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Wendy

Thank you, I’ve just looked through at least ten tutorials for this method, and this one is the best.The photos are great.

Reply

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