If you are a veteran quilter, you know that one of the most time-consuming parts of finishing a quilt is stitching the binding. Especially if you do it by hand! Fortunately, though, there is an easier option.
Machine binding is a great way to complete any quilt. With a little practice, you can use your sewing machine to do all the work for you – and still have the quilt look (almost) hand-sewn. Not only is machine binding faster than hand stitching, it makes your quilt much more durable. According to Cluck Cluck Sew, machine binding is great for baby quilts in particular, because they get washed “all. the. time.” The machine binding makes the edges of the quilt strong enough to stand up to hundreds of rough trips through the washing machine – and who doesn’t want their baby’s quilt to last as long as possible?
If machine binding sounds like it’s right up your alley, here is a step-by-step guide for getting started.
Step 1: Prepare your quilt and binding
Cluck Cluck Sew recommends that you begin by squaring up the edges of your quilt and batting. Use a rotary cutter and a ruler to make sure that every side has a straight, even line with no jagged edges.
Once you've done that, cut strips of material for binding. For most quilts, the binding strips should be 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) wide, with the length being the width of your fabric. Calculating the total amount of binding you need involves a bit of math. According to Kimberly of Fat Quarter Shop (whose video you can watch below for an audio/visual tutorial of this process), the best formula for figuring out how much binding you need is to add 15 inches (38 cm) to the total perimeter of your quilt (the length of all four sides added together), and then divide by the length of your quilt, rounding up to the closest whole number.
Step 2: Sewing the binding together
Once you have cut your strips of binding, it is time to sew them together. Leah Day’s machine binding tutorial recommends sewing each of the pieces together with a diagonal seam, which will cut down on bulkiness. Press the seams open, and trim off the corners.
Step 3: Using the sewing machine
Now for the tricky part. The last part of the process is to sew the binding to the quilt using your sewing machine. Place your binding strips along the edges of the quilt as shown above, leaving a 10-inch (25.4 cm) tail, that won’t be sewn until the end when you piece the binding together in one of the final steps. Cluck Cluck Sew advises that you start by sewing the binding to the front of the quilt, matching the raw edges of the quilt and keeping a ¼-inch (6.4 mm) seam.
Sew until you get to the first corner, then be sure to do a ¼-inch backstitch, to reinforce the seam. Make a diagonal fold at the corner (see how in the video at the end of this article), and keep stitching until the front side of the quilt is complete. Anchor your 10-inch tail, and then flip the quilt over to start sewing on the back. Fold the strip of binding over so that it covers the raw edge, and make sure it covers the seam you made before.
Continue sewing as you did previously (check the video to see how to do the corners) until you have made your way around the entire perimeter. Make sure to stay to the left of your original seam line. Otherwise, there will be some stray stitches in your binding.
Once you reach the final corner, your quilt is finished! Not only will it look professional, it will be strong and durable as well. So feel free to throw that thing in the washer as much as you want! That machine binding isn’t going anywhere.