Fearless Machine Binding - a Tutorial

Friday, November 23, 2012

I have to admit, I actually love to do hand finishing for my bindings.  I know, it's crazy.  But it's a rare occasion, especially these days with a five month old, that I get to sit down and just focus on one thing, so I like that hand binding forces me into it.

But also because I have a five month old, I've found that I need to adjust my sewing project plans to things that I can work on in shorter time periods.  And I found that hand binding just doesn't fall under that criteria. So I tried a couple different machine binding techniques (zig-zag, blanket stitch, etc.) before I settled on this technique as my standard for machine binding.

I won't go over the steps prior to machine finishing the binding, other than to say I use a 2.5" binding width.  There are some great tutorials out there if you'd like more details about how to attach the binding, my favorite being Sharon Schamber's tutorial.

So let's get started!

Once your binding is attached to the quilt, it should look like this:

(1) The first step is to press your binding to the outside of your quilt as below:

(2) Next we are going to sew a basting stitch just outside the binding edge on the front of the quilt.  To do this, I change my sewing machine settings to the highest stitch length (5.0) and adjust the needle position to the far left-hand side, as shown below. On my machine, the far left needle position is a scant quarter inch from the center needle position.

(3) Once the adjustments are made to your machine, load your quilt face up onto your sewing machine.  Line the binding seam up with the center of your presser foot and stitch a basting stitch to the left of your binding. 

Below is what the front of your quilt will look like once the basting stitch has been sewn:

(4) Next, turn over your quilt.  Below is what the back of your quilt will look like at this point, the basting stitch on top and the binding seam on the bottom:

(5) OK, what I'm about to say will shock you, unless, of course, you've already watched the Sharon Shamber binding tutorial!  Get out your glue....washable Elmer's glue, that is.  Don't be afraid. This will, as the name indicates, wash away in the laundry. 

(6)  Place small dots of the glue along the length of the binding seam line as shown below:

(7) Fold over your binding and line it up to the basting stitch, as shown below:

(8) With an iron, press your binding in place.  This will set the glue in place and keep your binding secure until you can machine finish it.  P.S., do not use steam.  Continue to glue and iron set the binding all the way around the quilt.

(9) Now, let's head back to the sewing machine.  First, make sure you place your machine back to the original settings.  For me this was a 2.40 stitch length and a center needle position.

(10) Place the quilt face up onto the sewing machine.  Center the presser foot with the seam of the binding.  Your basting stitch should be to the left of your needle.  Stitch in the ditch around the entire quilt. 

(11) Below is what the topside of your quilt binding will look like at this point, the basting stitch on top, the finishing stitch on the bottom:

(12) Now, remove the basting stitch as shown below:

(13) At this point you will have stitch marks in your quilt from the basting stitch.  I spray with water and steam them out. 

This is what it will look like before steaming out:

This is what it will look like after steaming out:

(14) That's it!  The last step is to checkout the backside of the quilt and admire how evenly you were able to get the spacing from the finishing stitch to the edge of the binding.

On a side note, I've also done this technique where I've not used thread when sewing the basting stitch line...you will be able to see and use the marks from the needle as your guide when lining up the binding on the backside of the quilt.


  1. This looks way neater that my bindings since I just wrap it around a go for it. Good hint with the basting and glue!

  2. Ooooh, this is interesting :-D I'm totally in love with Sharon Schamber's binding technique, so I can't wait to try my luck with the basting stitches as well.


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