Spilling the beans on machine bindings

  Today I am sharing with you my 3 methods for machine binding. Hopefully you'll take away a skill that will help you finish a few of those projects with ease while creating professional results.
   On so many occasions ladies come into the shop and while taking a look at all the samples (over 1000!) the most commonly asked question is how our bindings are so neat and even on both sides. So, today I'm spilling the beans on my bindings....tricks I talk about in the shop almost daily.
  The first thing I can tell you is that all of our binding are cut on the bias. Not only does it hold up longer because of having two fibers in a 'X' running the length of an edge, but it also hides any discrepancies because its so pliable. When binding a scallop quilt or apple core quilt its a must to prevent any bunching.
Some general notes on my binding:
•I cut most all of my bindings at 2.5" then use a 3/8" seam allowance for  application.
•I also always use a walking foot (and most of the time while sewing too!) and a Schmetz Microtex needle or any 'sharps' needle.
•As a rule of thumb when top stitching you're suppose to lengthen your seam, so while applying bindings I use a stitch length of 3 for the final step.
Method 1: Only seeing top stitching on the front of your quilt.

Anytime I am planning to apply binding by machine I always sew it onto the back of my quilt first, using 3/8" seam allowance, then pull it around to the front. I pull my binding until its past the seam I created while attaching the binding from the back. I use an awl to guide my machine just to the outside of that seam and to gently pull my binding to where I need it. When you look at it from the back, your seam should ride just to the inside of your binding like this:
I like not being able to see my seam from the back (left picture). Some ladies like to be able to see top stitching evenly on both the front and the back and not have the seam to the inside of their bindings.

Method 2: Even top stitching on both top and bottom.
To do this I apply my binding to the back first, using a 3/8" seam allowance like before.
   I then use my iron to get a nice crisp seam from the back. I use my awl again to pull my binding around to the front just up to the seam created when applying the binding, not passed it like method 1. My awl guides my binding along the seam as I stitch just to the right (towards the outside) of the seam created when first applying the binding. Again, lengthening my seam to 3 for top stitching. When looking at it from the back you'll see this:

Method 3: Single Fold Binding

      Now I use this method when I don't want the bulk of a binding to deal with, normally on small projects like mug rugs, reader wraps, etc.

• Cut bias binding 1-3/4" wide, iron in half, then open with your fingers. Next iron both raw edges towards center crease, then in half again. Should look like this:
Now for application:
Apply binding to the back of your quilt, using only a single layer, follow the first crease which is about 3/8" seam allowance.

Once you pull the binding to the front, your binding should snap close, hiding the remaining raw edge.
You can use either your awl to pull it and hold it while you sew or place a few pins around to secure while you stitch.

You can choose to pull the binding further over the seam like in method 1 or choose to have both sides top stitched like in method 2. This is purely aesthetic and totally up to you.

  So thats my 3 machine binding methods that I use in the shop. I'll tell you it takes some time to perfect this, I've been sewing for years and had extremely awesome teachers. The lessons I've learned from both my grandmother and my mother have been invaluable and enabled me to create professional looking goods. I pass these onto you in the hopes you'll use them to quickly finish any unfinished project you may have. Give them a try on something small to practice and be patient with yourself. I'll be bringing that sample from this post to the next meeting so you can see it in person. If you have any questions, be sure to ask!  xxSteffani


  1. Wow! I am so ingrained in the traditional method which includes hand sewing so this is a new trick and will take some practice. Good to learn new ways of doing these tasks. Thank you.

  2. Can you please describe an awl? I'm not sure I'm familiar with this, but it seems to make all the difference? Maybe...

    1. Hiya, I think I can help. A tailor's awl or stiletto is just a pointy stick that saves your fingers from the sewing machine needle or iron; quilter's use it to grab and adjust fabric as they stitch to prevent it from shifting, or to push a thick joined corner through smoothly and accurately.
      (Clover makes metal and bamboo ones, Fons & Porter and That Purple Thang are plastic, some have ergonomic handles...there are tons! It's a handy notion to have in your sewing kit.)

  3. Loved reading this! Thanks for taking the time to share with all of us!

  4. Wow Wow! Binding perfection like I've never seen before! Thank you.

  5. Gorgeous post and terrific info! Thanks!

  6. Fantastic info. I have been too chicken to try but maybe this will push me offa my roost and give it a go. Thanks for taking the time to share this.

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