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How to bind a quilt on the sewing machine

Updated on May 16, 2014

Fast and Easy Binding

The Last Step - Binding

Quilting is an amazing experience, one where a person can express themselves through fabric, patterns, and design. It is exciting to a see a quilt come together. However, it can also be a slow and tedious process. Sometimes, while you like the experience, you need to complete a project by a certain day or maybe, by the time you get to the binding, you are ready to be done. Either way, this is an excellent way to finish up your project.

This tutorial begins after you have prepared your binding. If you are looking for suggestions on how much binding to cut, check out this binding calculator. It is an awesome tool for figuring out how much material you need without having to do a lot of math.

For this tutorial, I am finishing a lap sized quilt. It is the jelly roll race quilt and I used the Windham Basic Pastels jelly roll. It is a fun and beautiful line of fabric. For the backing and binding, I chose a solid color that I purchased at a local store. Sewing the quilt top took a couple of hours, quilting the top took a few more, and the sewing on the binding took about an hour. Let me show you how I did that last step.

First Things First

The first thing you need to do pin the binding to the quilt. If you were to finish the binding by hand, you would attach it to the quilt top. When you are attaching completely on the sewing machine, then you first pin it to the back of the quilt. This is because, as you will see later, you want to know where that thread is going to be on the quilt top. You don't want it to be all over the place or on a part of the binding that you don't want. After all, the top of the quilt is what people see.

When you pin it to the quilt, make sure you leave about a 10 inch tail. If you look at the picture, you can see that I pin it where I want to start sewing. That's the extent of my pinning at this point. Also, I usually choose a spot in the middle. You don't want to start on a corner or too close to a corner. As you go through the tutorial you will see why. It will make life easier.

Pin the Binding

Remember, in the middle!
Remember, in the middle!

A Different View

See how the raw edges of the binding are matched with the raw edges of the quilt?
See how the raw edges of the binding are matched with the raw edges of the quilt?

A Tip

Don't have a lot of money for cool gadgets? Try winding your binding on a toilet paper roll.
Don't have a lot of money for cool gadgets? Try winding your binding on a toilet paper roll.

A Little More Help

Here a couple of extra photos for clarification. On the top, I am showing how you have to make sure the raw edges of the binding and the quilt are facing the same direction. Remember, after you sew the binding on the back you have to fold it over to the top. Make sure the edge that is going to be folded over looks good.

On the bottom, I am showing you what I do with all the binding. If you don't want to deal with a ton of material, but you don't have the money to spend on cool quilting gadgets and do-hickeys, then simply use a toilet paper or paper towel roll. I liked the toilet paper roll because it was the perfect size for the binding. It worked perfectly to keep the binding from getting in the way and keeping things neat and organized.

Ready, Set, Sew!

To the Sewing Machine!

Once you have it pinned, you can move to the sewing machine. I set my sewing machine length to "2," which is one size up from the smallest stitch (I have an old machine so I don't have a lot of fancy settings). As soon as you have everything set up (quilt situated under the needle, foot on the peddle, and movie playing) then you can begin sewing. And sew a straight stitch all the way around.

Leading Up to the Corner

At the Corner

What About the Corners?

For some reason, I find doing the corners to be a little fun. Maybe it is because I like the result. Regardless, this is how it works.

1) Sew until you get 1/2 inch from the corner. What I do is, as I get close to the end, I stop sewing. I pull out my little measurement tool, measure 1/2 inch from the edge of the corner and put a pin there so that I can see where it is. I then go back to sewing and sew until I get to the pin. Then I stop, back stitch, and cut the threads.

2) Next, you are to fold the binding over at a 90 degree angle (look at the picture). You want the tail end of the binding to be in parallel with you or perpendicular to the edge of the quilt that you have been sewing. Then, holding the binding in place, you fold the tail of the binding back over so that it is now in line with the next side of the quilt that you will be sewing.

3) Finally, you start at the top and start to sew again.

Follow this process for all four corners.

Finish the Corner

Connect the Binding

Check, Pin, Sew
Check, Pin, Sew

Trim the Material

Perfect Tension

Now, the Tricky Part

At least, I think it is so pay attention. Once you sew all four corners, you will be coming to that tail end of material that you saved at the beginning. What I do is as soon as I complete the fourth corner of the quilt, I pause and look to see how far I have. I continue to sew until there are about 6-10 inches to where I began.

Here's where it gets tricky. There a couple different ways you can connect the binding. This is how I do it, but feel free to do it another way if you want to. Get the two ends (most tutorials say to trim your tails at this point, but I usually don't just in case I make mistakes) and put them right sides together. If you look it is almost like a plus sign. You do want to pin them together. It is a bad idea not to (I learned that lesson the hard way). To make things easier you might want to pin your quilt together (look at the picture). This makes it so that you can manage the tails ends better. Before you start to sew, make sure that you have marked, in some way, the opposite corner you are sewing to. If you don't, it is probable that you won't end up there. Once everything is pinned and marked, sew them together.

After the ends are sewn together, make sure that the binding isn't too loose or too tight. I recommend you do this before you trim anything just in case you have to redo it. Once it is perfect, trim it down and fold it. Now, you are ready to finish this up.

Corners, the Other Side

Let's Finish This!

After the binding is perfect, then you can finish sewing it on that side. Once you have finished, you are ready to fold the binding over to the front side of the quilt. It is all smooth sailing from here.

The corners on this side are pretty easy (especially the way I do them). Sew until you get close to the corner, then pause to make sure the corner is perfect before you sew it. Basically what you do is straighten the end of the binding towards yourself. Next you fold it up away from you and pin it into place.

Once it is pinned, then you can continue to sew. You simply sew until you reach the end of the corner, turn, and continue to sew. Continue until you finish the quilt.

What's Your Method?

What is your favorite way of finishing up your binding?

See results

And There You Have It

There you are! You have now finished your quilt. Isn't it amazing? After hours of hard work, nothing can beat seeing your quilt in all it's complete glory. I hope that this tutorial helped you on your quilting journey.


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