Machine Binding

Every time I show a quilt that has a machine-finished binding, I’m asked how it was done. So, here it is! Let’s start with what it looks like at the end. (Sorry for the not-so-great photos, I didn’t take them with the intention of publishing them!)


First, you need to select two fabrics for the binding. One for the outer binding (pink) and one for the little flange (orange) that lies between the binding and the quilt. Cut enough binding to go around the entire quilt with a 12-16″ overlap for joining. Cut the outer binding 1¼” wide. Cut the flange fabric 1½” wide.

20121115_105207Join the lengths together as you would for a regular binding – do this once for the outer binding and once for the flange so you end up with two lengths of fabric.

20121115_105423Press the seams open and trim the seam allowance. With the seams offset, stitch the two lengths together, right sides facing, with a ¼” seam allowance.

20121115_111142Press the seam allowance toward the outer binding fabric.


Press the binding in half – wrong sides facing as you would regular binding – matching the raw edges. I lightly spray the wrong side with starch prior to pressing so the binding doesn’t shift as I attach it to the quilt.


Attach the binding to the WRONG side of the quilt with a ¼” seam. Form the corners as you normally would. Leave long tails at the beginning and the end with an unsewn area of about 10″ for joining.



To join the ends, lay one tail down. Cut it about half way into the unsewn area.

20121115_121554Lay the other tail on top. Take the piece that you cut off and lay it cross-wise on top of the tail to mark the overlap of the two tails. The overlap should be the same width as the binding.

20121115_12161620121115_121631Stitch the ends together. Press open. Trim. Stitch down.

20121115_12183720121115_122004Turn the binding to the right side of the quilt and stitch in the ditch formed by the flange and the outer binding. If you keep it snug, the stitch line will fall beyond the binding on the back side.

20121115_13232020121115_135040I don’t use this method often – I still prefer to hand stitch my binding down. But, when I’m in a hurry it’s my go-to method!












Quick Tip Tuesday – Binding Auditions

Sometimes a print fabric is just the right choice for a binding. The problem is envisioning what that fabric is going to look like as a binding. Prints have lots of possibilities especially if it has a distinct pattern or repeat. Here is how I look at my options!

I took a scrap piece of chipboard – any sturdy, heavyweight paper will do, or just  a piece of paper in a pinch! I like the chipboard because I can use it over and over and it’s not apt to end up in the recycling bin by mistake! I cut a piece about 6″ x 15″. Then I cut out a slot a little less than 3/8″ the length of the board leaving about 1″ on each end. I chose this width because my binding ends up a little over 1/4″ on the front and you can always see the rolled edge. The best tool I have found for cutting chipboard: a rotary cutter with a blade that is reserved for paper – or a blade that you are ready to throw out.


I lay out the fabric that I am auditioning and move my window around varying the angles to see what I can find.

This Kaffe Fassett print would add plenty of color to a binding and would hide the seams well.


binding kaffe

There aren’t a whole lot of variations with this fabric. However, it would add some interest to a binding without adding much color.


binding rings


Of course, stripes are versatile – horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. This stripe is unique because it has an ombre effect and would add a lot of character to the right quilt.binding stripes


These trees act a lot like a stripe – but you wouldn’t have to worry about matching it up!binding trees


This herringbone has a lot of possibilities – careful cutting is the key. Chevrons work in a similar fashion.

binding herringbone


These diamonds are a lot of fun!

binding diamonds


If you want a specific pattern – like in the diamond – you can use chalk to mark the edge that you want closest to the quilt. Then cut 1/4″ from the edge. Then cut it to the width that you prefer.


Quick Tip Tuesday

I’ve tried many different ways to join the ends of my binding over the many years that I’ve been quilting. I’ve pretty much settled on the method I’m going to share today. It’s fast, easy, accurate and requires no special tools – just a pair of scissors! This post is pretty long for a ‘Quick Tip’ – just because I wanted to include plenty of detail. It will take you longer to read the post than to use this method!

Leave about 12″ of space between the stitching of the start and end of your binding and leave plenty of extra binding for overlapping – at least 8″ on each end. On to joining the ends.

Step 1: Lay the ends of the binding over each other.


Step 2: Lift up the top piece and cut the bottom piece, making sure that the top piece overlaps the bottom piece by 3″ or more (this depends on the width of your binding).


Step 3: Lay the top piece back down.


Step 4: Take the scrap that you cut off in step 2, open it up, place it on the top piece so that it is lying perpendicular to the binding. Match the edge of the scrap to the cut end of the bottom binding (you can’t see it very well in this picture because they are exactly matched so you can’t see the edge of the bottom binding – but essentially you want to mark an overlap that is the same size as the width of the binding.). Cut the top binding at the opposite edge of the scrap.


Step 5: Put the binding right sides facing at a 90° angle. Stitch at a 45° angle – just as you would join binding pieces.


Step 6: Stitch. Open and check it just to make sure everything looks good!


Step 7: Trim the seam allowance. Finger press the seam open. Refold the binding and stitch the binding down! Voila!