There are lots and lots of binding tutorials. Lots. So I’m going to skim over binding basics fairly quickly in order to share with you how I machine bind my quilts to look almost hand sewn.
I do all my quilts this way, so by now I’ve become fairly quick at it. I still love a hand-stitched binding, but I’m more confident that my machine bound quilts can withstand lots of washings and use from my family. I always machine bind baby quilts…because we all know that baby quilts get washed all.the.time.
First you’ll need to square up the edges of your quilt. I lay my cutting mat on the floor or table and straighten up my edges with my rotary cutter and ruler. I cut my binding strips 2.5" x the width of the fabric and trim off the selvages. To figure out how many strips you’ll need, add up the length in inches of all four sides of your quilt + 20 inches. Then divide that number by 42" (the width of fabric).
Lay your fabric strips right sides together as shown, sew a diagonal seam from corner to corner, trim the corner, and repeat until all of the binding strips are sewn together into one long strip. Then press that whole long strip in half, wrong sides together.
Sew the binding onto the quilt FRONT first.
Pin the binding to a side of the quilt, matching the raw edges and leaving about a 10" tail. Start sewing under the pin using a 1/4" seam allowance. Use a walking foot.
Keep sewing until you reach a corner, and stop stitching and backstitch 1/4" before the corner/next side of the quilt…it’s important to get that 1/4" of unsewn space at the end! Lift the binding strip up as shown making a diagonal fold, then pull the binding strip back down creating a fold at the top, pin. Start sewing down the next side at the top using a 1/4" seam allowance.
When you get back to where you started, stop sewing about 10" from where you started, leaving a unsewn tail. Fold the bindings to meet in the middle of the unsewn space, press with an iron or finger press…enough to make a crease. Open the strips, and match the crease marks and pin the strips right sides together. Sew down the crease marks, trim (make sure it’s sewn correctly before you trim!), and press the seam. Place the strip back on the quilt and finish sewing the binding on.
You can also sew these together with a mitered edge…I don’t bother because this method is so quick for me now. It looks complicated and its really hard to explain/take photos of…but once you try it you’ll get it.
This is what your quilt will look like now:
Now turn the quilt over and we’re going to stitch the binding down onto the BACK of the quilt.
Choose a place to start, and fold the binding strip over until it’s PAST the 1/4" seam line that you made sewing the binding onto the front and pin. This part is important…if you don’t pull the binding edge past that seam line…you’ll get stitches in your binding on the front.
(the other seam line in the photo is the stay-stitching after I’m done quilting…ignore it)
Sew right along the edge of the binding on the back…you are trying to sew to the left of the seam line always. If you pull that binding past the seam line and sew right long the fold of the binding strip…you should be fine.
Keep sewing until you reach a corner, stop 6" before the corner, fold the bottom edge up, then the side edge over creating a nice mitered corner and pin. Sew to the corner, leave your needle down and turn to sew down the other side.
Keep on sewing until you’re back at the start and you’re done! If you did it right (it takes some practice!) the binding will look like this on the front/back.
See no stitches in the front binding? All you can see is a nice straight line of stitches in the quilt, and it blends in nicely with the quilting.
If you don’t stay to the left of the seam line when your sewing the binding down on the back, this is what happens…you’ll get some stitches in your binding.
It’s a very easy and fast method to sewing bindings, and it looks way better than sewing the binding down on the front of the quilt with a visible seam line in the binding.
Doesn’t that binding look nice on the quilt front?? Hopefully it’ll work for you as well as it has for me!