Tuesday, November 22, 2011

one way to machine bind a quilt

I put the binding on this quilt the other day (week?) and I machine bound it. I thought ahead enough to snap a few photos along the way so I could share my process. Sorry if the photos of the process are less than stellar, I did it late in the evening, long after daylight had gone. I hope this gets the point across anyway.

A little disclaimer...I'm by no means an expert on this subject...my first "big" quilt bound by machine was back in March of this year, so I'm still almost a rookie. But, I looked back at that binding this weekend and I have learned a thing or two since that quilt. Hurray for progress!

To machine bind a quilt....
Make the binding. Cut strips 2.5" wide from selvage to selvage, not on the bias. Join as many strips as needed, mitering the seams as you go. Make the binding strip long enough to go around the perimeter of your quilt.
Take your quilted quilt and trim off the excess batting and backing so all the edges are even with the quilt top.
Attach the binding "as usual" (you can read my indepth tutorial here) with a 1/4" seam allowance, except attach it with your machine on the back of the quilt, rather than the front. To finish it off, join the ends together with a mitered seam, just as you would if you were binding a quilt "normally".
Now that the binding is fully attached to the back, here comes the fun part!

Flip your quilt over and pick a point to start from. I start about 12" down from the top right corner. Here's the kicker...I don't pin a bit! In my first attempt I tried to, but I hated it. I got better results from just folding over the binding as I went. I was delighted to find this out! It sure beats getting pricked 1000 times during the top stitching process.
Fold the binding over and top stitch slowly, close to the left hand edge of your binding strip using your walking foot. I use my right hand to fold the binding into place and I use my left hand to hold it in place AND guide the quilt all at the same time. Go slow and steady. Take breaks to readjust it after every few inches or so, or as needed. I'm here to tell you that this gets MUCH easier with practice...just like anything else. Going slow is better than stitch ripping. And it's still much faster than hand stitching. :)
Keep going in this fashion until you are close to the corner. At this point stop stitching, adjust the corner so it's mitered nicely, holding it in place with your hand and stitch slowly until you catch the corner point.
Stop, pivot the quilt and keep top stitching. It's really that easy! Continue until you make your way all the way around the quilt. When you get to the point that you started at, back stitch a bit to secure the stitches and you are done!
 
A few thoughts...

Start with mini quilts...or place mats. It does take practice, but it gets easier with time. On my first big quilt attempt, I did it on a low stakes quilt. Meaning, it is a quilt that was going to live at my house anyway, so there wasn't the pressure of getting it perfect on the first shot. My 8 year old doesn't care that the stitching lines aren't straight.

I don't machine bind every quilt. If the thread color won't blend with the binding AND the back, I will bind it in the traditional way, with the hand stitching on the back.
The binding shown on the back is significantly skinnier than on the front. Consider this if you are thinking of machine binding a quilt that has a lot of points. The wider binding strip on the front will chop off your points. But on a quilt like this, with a solid border it's a non-issue. This is just something that I consider.

When top stitching, try not to go off the edge of the binding. If you do, just stop, go back a few stitches so they overlap (to secure that spot) and keep going. The goal is to keep the edge tacked down, all the while doing it with a consistent seam allowance, and keeping the back line of stitching from showing on the back binding part. Doesn't sound scary at all, huh? It's really not so bad, trust me!

I'd like to give a big shout out to the lovely Anita for posting her lovely tutorial on machine binding awhile back. That is the first time I thought "I just might be able to do this!" Then I tried it six months later. :) I ended up doing a few things differently, but it gave me the pointers that I needed and more importantly the hope that I could do it. Thanks Anita!

If you are one of those people who have always wanted to try machine binding but have been afraid to attempt it, I hope this gives you the nudge to jump in and try it. You might be glad you did!
-------------
12-7-11
edited to add:

after reading the comments, (thanks for the tips you shared!) I've done a little more experimenting with my machine binding. The issue of the front of the binding appearing so much wider than the binding on the back started to bother me. I tested out this little change and it helps a lot!

When trimming, I left 1/8" of the backing/batting beyond the quilt top's edge, rather than trimming all the layers even with the edge of the quilt top. Then I proceeded to finish the binding as directed above.
After top stitching, the binding was a bit more even on the front and the back....
but there was still plenty of room to fold over the binding and do the stitching without getting too close to the edge of the binding on the back.

This is a view of the back. The binding is nice and full but still plenty of room for stitching.
It's amazing how much that little 1/8" changes things!

77 comments:

Terriaw said...

I tried this on a mug rug just this last weekend! It went pretty fast, but didn't seem as neat as when I hand sew the binding on. Definitely need to practice this one more. I have FOUR quilts that need binding sewn on, which I would love to finish in December. Thanks for the great tute! Cool quilt, btw!

Renee said...

This is EXACTLY how I machine bind some of my quilts. I started machine binding in April, I think, so I'm still a newbie too :-)

MellieWo said...

Yay! Thanks! I think I requested this tutorial :) I agree, it's not for every quilt, but it sure is quicker!

Faygie Fellig said...

so helpful. thanx

**nicke... said...

thanks so much amandajean! this is a great tutorial!

Christine L said...

Good Job! I too do a little bit of both machine quiltint the binding and handstitching binding. If its a kids quilt I will usually machine quilt the binding.. it goes in the wash a lot and they don't notice or care as much :) Great tut! Thanx for sharing!

thea said...

I think it looks great! I may even try. What kind of thread do you use?

Becky said...

I sometimes machine sew my bindings and I learned a little trick. If you first sew the binding on the BACK of the quilt and then flip it around to the front, the line of stitching from sewing down the other side of the binding is then on the back of the quilt and doesn't mess up the lines on the front. Thanks for the tutorial. It helps to read of others' experiences.

Melissa @ Happy Quilting said...

This is the only way I bind. I can't stand hand stitching so I have always done it this way. It is fun to do scallop stitches and such on the front to give it a little extra pop :)

KristaKay said...

YOU are amazing! I don't know what I would do if I hadn't found your blog! Your tutorials, your pictures, your overall kindness.

I hate binding, so I will be trying this method on the next quilt.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the binding tutorial! I think I'm going to practice on a quilt that's already been bound. To explain, it's our sofa quilt and gets lots of use so the hand-stitched binding keeps coming undone. This will keep it in place!
Lisa
Lalexander733 (at) gmail (dot) com

Erin @ Why Not Sew? Quilts said...

This is how I do it too! I still enjoy hand binding but don't have the time for it at this point in my life. I have also used Anita's tutorial. I never pin either! You know what else I found that I like is to not press my binding in half. I fold it so my raw edges meet and start sewing.

Laura said...

Thanks for posting this. I'm about to start some place mats tonight and I think I might just try this!

Bente-I like to QuiltBlog said...

Thanks for the great tutorial, very well done!
Liebe Grüße
Bente - Germany

Anita said...

Hey, look at your lovely face over there in the corner. :) So nice to see you! And thanks for the lovely words about my binding! It's always nice to know that I've been able to help out a fellow quilter.

Alli said...

Thanks for the tutorial! I had been reluctant to try machine binding since I thought the messiness always landed up in the front, but this is brilliant! :)

Brenda said...

I use this method as well. I've found the walking foot on my Juki makes it work well. the only problems I've had if I can't get the thread colour to match. I'd recommend learning to machine bind the quilts that will be used hard -- like the ones I make for my teenagers which live on the floor a bit too much. thanks for the directions and the visuals.

Venus de Hilo said...

I always do my bindings this way. Tip: a 1" plain border on a quilt with lots of points along the edge provides a nice frame for your piecing, adds more stable edge for binding, and you don't have to worry about the binding covering up any carefully matched point seams. And if you want to sew from the front first and wrap to the back (to put the narrow binding side on top), you can match the binding thread to the border color and not fret about that extra line of stitching across the pieced bits.
I get a neater edge stitch with my regular foot (vs. walking foot), with a light presser foot setting, but that could be a quirk of user/machine combo on this end.

twelfthzodiac said...

This is the way I always do it too! My very first quilt was the only one I hand stitched, after that, I started doing it this way. The only step I add in is: after stitching the binding to the back, I iron it out to make the fold-as-I-go stitching to the front a bit quicker/easier.
Practice does make perfect[ish]. One day I just zoomed through my binding & could not believe how nice & neat it was...now it is one of my favourite parts of the whole process :)

Sara said...

Yup, this is the method I use also. But to make the front and back bindings the same width I cut the binding 2.25 inches instead of 2.5. This gives me a binding about 3/8th of an inch when finished.

And/or I sew the binding on just a few inches on the back, then take the quilt out of the machine and check how well the folding-over-to-the-front is going to cover the line of stitches. Then maybe I'll move my needle position over left or right a notch to make it "perfect". Usually I find leaving the needle in the middle position works great on this step.

On the Right side, to just catch the fold, I set my needle position one notch to the right, rather than right in the center. That seems to help on not having so many "misses".

Wendy said...

I would add that a walking foot makes this significantly easier!

frayedattheedge said...

I've not rtied this method before - but I'll give it a go on something small!

Annie said...

I have just done this on a table runner and loved it so quick

Quiltjane said...

Thank you for the tutorial. We were only discussing this technique on Twitter a few days ago. I would like to try one day.

bethanndodd said...

I haven't done it this way but I am sure gonna try it...thanks!
Smiles~Beth

Clair said...

I will have to try it sometime. My current quilt progress is kind of slow.

Viki said...

i use a similar method to bind my quilts... i LOVE doing it by machine!
tip - use a slightly wider seam allowance when you sew your binding on. this means that the binding on the front will only be slightly wider than the binding on the back, and your stitching on the back will almost be in-the-ditch

amandajean said...

Thea,

I mainly use connecting threads thread. For this I think it was serger thread. I use whatever I have on hand that matches. :)

Hope that helps!

Amanda Jean

Sandra said...

Great tutorial! So much faster than by hand:)

Julierose said...

I have never done binding this way--it looks a lot faster and easier than the hand quilting....thanks Julierose

Sara said...

I use the exact technique every time and swear by it!

bhafer said...

I have tried machine binding but not when you stitch on the front. I am going to try it soon. A fellow quilter just told me this is how she does kt as well and when she does not have the right color thread she has used monofilament thread in top and bobbin, just don't wind a full bobbin. I have tried it yet but may be doing it soon. Thanks for the great step by step process.

Beth said...

Can I ask: What is the fabric you used on the back with the little rectangles? I love that! I love the whole quilt, but that fabric caught my eye. =)

Teresa said...

Welcome to the easy peasy binding club. I've always done machine binding, but then I only machine quilt too. I even sew my buttons on by machine. I am just not a hand sewer, I know I'd bleed all over my projects! You might want to branch out and use decorator stitches too. My favorites are an alternating blanket stitch, and a feather stitch. It adds a cool dimension to the top edge.

amandajean said...

Hi Beth,

The backing fabric is a bed sheet. My neighbor gave it to me....it was leftover from her son's school project. I love it, too! :)

Amanda Jean

Debbie said...

Nice tutorial - One of these days I'll be brave enough to try it!

amy said...

When I took my first quilt class I didn't even own a hand quilting needle. So machine binding was the only solution for me.

Dorothee said...

I do it that way too and I find it really quite easy! So if you commenters and readers are weary, give it a try!

lafibracreativa.com said...

Hello, great tutorial. I've tried the other way around, i.e. attaching the binding to the top of the quilt first (as usual, turning to the back, and topstiching on the top side,very close to the binding edge. The difficulty is making sure to catch the binding on the back all the way, which you don't see (it helps to cut it a bit wider than usual) but it has the advantage that the topstiching on the front blends very nicely (looks as if stitched in the ditch).
Like you, I still prefer the neat hand-stiching for my best quilts, but I'll try your technique for everyday quilts, it's nice to be able to save time while obtaining a decent result!
Cheers,
Fran

Annilu + Pele said...

This is exactly the way I do the bindings of my quilts and I think there is no better way to do it! Thanks for the tutorial anyway!

mac said...

A very timely tutorial - Christmas deadline looming and 3 quilts to bind. Thanks so much.

Kathy said...

This is the way I do my bindings as well, but I've never tried not pinning them. I'll try that next time. I just think they stay together better than the ones I would do by hand. Our quilts get washed a lot here with a 4-year-old in the house!

Miss White Wall said...

Just the nudge I needed!

Peg said...

Thanks for this - always been scared to try it, but have a few scrappy quilt tops that could work well for learning!

Sassy Scrubs.com said...

Thanks for sharing. We make quilts from left over scraps of fabric that are left from making our nurses scrubs. The quilts are very colorful, and they are sent to China to help keep orphans warm. Machine binding is a very handy tool when you're producing multiple quilts. Thank you for your tips!

pat sloan said...

so glad to see this binding technique shared more and more!

i have been on a quest to convert my students for years as I've done it for 10 yrs now.. do all my quilts this way and love it.. saves me gobs of time. I do blanket stitch or decorative stitch.. fun!

have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Cheryl Arkison said...

That's exactly how I do it too.

Jessica said...

Very timely for me! I was just looking for a tutorial on machine binding! THANK YOU!

Nancy Lee said...

I have never hand-sewn a binding, I do it this way, but it always comes out messy. I think I am rushing it, not taking my time and readjusting every few inches. I am going to have to slow down and see if it get better!
nancy
Adirondack Modern Quilt Guild
http://modernquiltguild.blogspot.com/

unfinishedquilts said...

I was taught to bind with a machine (she has better things to do than sew by hand,lol), so glad I was taught that way! For me though, I do all sewing from the front, might have to try it this way, after Christmas when I am no so pinched for time. For me it is not an issue of not wanting to, it is physical, had to quit crocheting and knitting because it is painful. Cannot imagine holding a little needle to hand sew the binding!

Karen said...

Great idea! I have had success with another version of machine binding. One extra thing I do is not to cut the backing and batting flush with the quilt top. I generally leave a quarter inch or so all around. This helps fill out the binding and supposedly makes the binding last longer.

Beth said...

Great tutorial. I have a stack of quilts that need to be bound. I am going to try this method at least on some of them.

pratima said...

Happy Thankgiving to you and yours!
Thank you for the tutorial! I've tried it before with mixed results. I think I should work on a small project first :-)

Katrin said...

Happy Thanksgiving!
Thank you for this great blog and all the work you put into it!

Robin said...

I tried this machine binding after you first mentioned Anita's tutorial awhile back, and I don't think I have hand bound a quilt since! After a lot of practice, I love the result! And it is so much faster. I altered my width on the back to 1/4 inch which was different than Anita's but it works well for me. Thanks to all you lovely quilters for your wonderful tutorials!

Mary said...

Nice tutorial.

I hate handwork and would never make another quilt if I had to hand bind it. I limit all hand work to what is necessary to make clothing look good.

I do mine both directions as suggeted by another poster. I actually pin carefully and use my stitch in the ditch foot when I am folding it to the back and sew on the top.

Might I also suggest trying decorative or blanket stitches if you have any on your machine. I like to use varigated threads and add yet another dimension to whatever I am working on.

Linda said...

Thanks for this tutorial. I've attached the binding by machine a few times and each time I was a bit disappointed with the way the stitching line always showed on the back if I would ditch from the front. Of course I was sewing it first on the front just as if I was going to hand sew to finish.
But when you said to first sew the back the light bulb went off and I knew that was my answer!!!
I do a slight variation from yours. I use my walking foot and use the outside edge of it as a guide to sew the seams...on both sides. Check out my blog to see my results.
Thank you soooo much for your inspiration tutorial.

chronicbliss said...

I don't understand why you said you need to find thread that will match the front and back. I just load my bobbin with a different thread than my spool to match to both. If I don't do a border and therefore can't match all the fabrics, I use that clear nylon thread on the top and cotton thread on the bottom. Is this wrong and should I stop?

Kerry said...

I have always machine sewn my binding to my quilts. However, my problem has been the "buckling" of the fabric as I go. I'm a very fast sewer, so the solution that I found for this is 2 things. First, I serge the edge of my quilt as this helps to uniform my edge into one piece. Second, I lower my dog foot. I simply "free machine" sew my binding to the top of my quilt. I make sure I am going in a very straight line...but wella...NO buckling!

Mama Pea said...

Nice tutorial, Amanda Jean! Thanks!

DIANA said...

i just bound 2 this way i sewed the binding to the front first though not sure which way i prefer i think i will make it 2.25 next time and try that if it blends in well i think i like to start on the front and flip to the back makes a nice stitch line but only if it goes with the quilting would be great if it was straight line quilted

MissesStitches said...

Have you tried cutting your binding strips 2 1/4 inches wide? Less to fold over on the front side.

Tiffany said...

Thank you so so much for this tutorial! A friend linked me to you to read, and it's so nice to get pictures and pointers! I tried my first machine sewn binding the other day and did it backwards!! Oops! Thank goodness it was on a small project that it doesn't matter if people see it like that - it's for me only!

Lynn In TX said...

I have always machine sewed the binding to the quilt and then would hand sew the front. But I started machine sewing the top on the quilts for my grandkids [knowing they will be washed more than the normal quilt. Now I add some of the decorative stitches that I have on my machine. Lots of fun to finish quickly.

queenopearls said...

I love this idea! I also used a decorative stitch on the front.
My HUGE challenge is joining the two lengths of binding when working on a mug rug or placemat. I am needing some suggestions please!
Thanks!
Christina in Cleveland

Tiffany said...

I found this through Pinterest. Thanks for the excellent tutorial. I have been hand finishing my binding because I tried to machine finish from front to back. I never thought to reverse it! Thanks again!

chrisee said...

I DID IT!!!!
Thankyou soooo much for all your work in posting your tutorial. Sure I can improve, but it is a matter of having enough confidence...oh, and enough of your photos....to take the first step.

Sharon said...

I was just thinking I wanted to try this last weekend..but didn't know how to get it just right. Thanks for the tut (and all the comments) I will now be able to give it a shot!

Beth said...

This is such a helpful tutorial. I'm new to machine binding and linked to you in my recent post. http://plumandjune.blogspot.com/2012/03/thoughts-on-machine-binding-and-finish.html

Bride to Be Erin said...

is it a 2.5" strip then folded and ironed in half or is it 2.5" once folded? I have never made a binding. I am contemplating just buying binding because this seems like alot of work to me. I only have a 12.5" square ruler so doing 340" that way might be a bit tedious.

Catherine said...

Thank you so much for this really helpful tutorial - I've just machine bound my first full-size quilt and it was really straightforward.

Jess said...

Thanks for showing pictures of the binding from the back!!! I just tried, and ripped out, and tried and ripped out about 6 times because I was getting frustrated that there was a seam on the back...but at least I can see from your pictures that if you machine bind, then that seam is supposed to be there! Phew! I've been going crazy...I will try your update on the next one, because the uneven amount front to back bothers me too! Thanks a million!

Judi said...

So glad I found your site. I am a new quilter this spring and I am experiencing problems in the area of binding in particular. I shall peruse your site often in the hopes to learn. Thanks for making this information available.
Judi.

Anonymous said...

I machine bind all my quilts, with no issues whatsoever. I do however use a different foot. I use an edge joining foot to do the stitching on the front of the quilt. This allows me to keep a consistent straight line with the stitching. I just place the binding against the edge blade then move my needle to where I want it on the binding. I can get really close to the edge this way and still maintain a straight line.

Stephanie said...

Nice tutorial. Just FYI, I read another tutorial recently and the lady said she uses top thread the color of her binding. The bobbin thread she matches to the backing color to make the stitching less noticeable.

Unknown said...

This tutorial is great! Thank you! I am going to try to machine bind my first quilt. I have one question...When I sew the binding to the back do I add the 1/4" seam allowance to the 1/8" extra backing (so the seam allowance on the back is 3/8") then fold over to the front?

Unknown said...

Or do I sew the binding 1/8" lower and not on the edge of the back? Thank you!