Monday, June 4, 2018

Machine Stitched Binding

A new tutorial today - how to apply binding completely by machine, giving you more time to make quilts!

Wait! There's a knock at the door - OMG! It's the quilt police!
They could easily lock me away for 20 years if they find out about this!

I don't know about you, but I don't have the time or inclination to hand stitch binding anymore. I switched completely to binding by machine over 5 years ago, and haven't looked back. Check out the stitching line below.

Machine stitched binding on the back

So, how do I get this even, consistent finish? The secret is, well, glue. Yes, glue. Throw me in jail and toss the key!

It's taken me these five years to finally admit that I use glue on a quilt. And frankly, I've reached a point where I don't care what the quilt police say. It gives me the results I want, and because it's school glue, it washes out. When that quilt needs finishing, this gets the job done.

Come follow along, so that you too can have a beautiful, quick finish on your quilt!

Apply binding

We all know how to apply binding to the front, right? For useful hints, see Reducing Bulky Corners and Joining Binding in 3 Easy Steps. Those will bring you up to speed.
Be sure to give the front seam of the binding a good press for a crisp fold. 

Press binding on the front

This makes for maximum fabric to turn over the edge, and it makes stitch-in-the-ditch easier.

Backside view of binding stitched to the front

Apply Glue

On the backside, apply a thin line of glue within the seam line.

Apply glue on the backside within the seam allowance

In the picture, the bottom part of the glue line is too much. The top part after the bulge is more appropriate.

Try to achieve a line that has enough glue to hold the binding, but not so much that it floods through the fabric, like below.

Too much glue soaks through after pressing

Turn Binding and Press

Work in sections, applying glue, then turning the binding over, PAST THE STITCH LINE, and PRESS WITH AN IRON.

Fold binding to the back to cover the seam line

Keep the line covered, and the binding even along the edge.

Glued and pressed binding ready for stitching

This edge is pressed, and ready for stitching.


Apply glue to the corner, as below, and glue to the next side of binding.

Apply glue to the corner and next edge

Neatly miter the corner, folding the edge to match the opposing edge.

Fold binding over forming a mitered corner

Give it a good press, and continue glue/pressing the remaining side.

Glued corner on the backside


On the front, stitch-in-the-ditch with thread to match the front, and bobbin thread to match the binding.

Stitch in the ditch on the front

Trust yourself on this - the glue should have done the work for you! And if you pay attention, you can hear that the needle is in the binding in the back, as there are at 4 layers of fabric plus batting to go through. When it goes off the binding in the back, the sound changes, as now there are only 2 layers of fabric.

If all goes well, the back should look like this:

Stitch line on the back

And if it doesn't go well, it may look like this:

Stitching missed the binding

Don't despair! It's an easy fix! Either the binding doesn't cover the stitch line, which will need pulling over more to cover, OR the stitching really isn't in the ditch. 
Mine was the second case.

Stitching not in the ditch

After applying a touch of glue, go back and restitch the area, getting closer to the seam. Now the back looks like this:

Binding now stitched

Binding attached!!

Machine stitching binding on the back

And the front:

Machine stitching binding on the front

I hope you try this on your next quilt, freeing up valuable time. And if there's a knock at the door, don't answer it!!!

Happy Quilting Everyone!

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  1. Thanks, I enjoyed the tutorial. Particularly these days, you can never be too careful as to who may be at the door!

    1. Oh so true! And you're welcome!

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Send the Quilt Police away!!!! I like this. I generally sew to the back, bring the binding to the front, and then sew down on the front on the stitching line. I might give this way a try.

    1. I've heard of quilters doing it that way too - whichever one works for you is what counts.

  3. I like this technique. I've been hand binding, but I suppose the quilt will be sturdier with machine binding. I intend for my quilts to be used profusely. I use Elmer's on my paper piecing projects. I purchased some small bottles with a pin like tip and fill it with glue. It keeps the glue line fine as not so much comes out through the tip. I will try this on my next quilt. I'll just tear up any tickets I get from the police.

    1. That was part of the reason I switched to machine binding - the sturdiness. And of course, no baby cares if it's hand stitched!

  4. I see nothing wrong with using this method especially if it's a quilt that will have a lot of use.

    1. Definitely! And if it's washed, why not?

  5. Great tutorial, and clever post! I haven't used Elmer's yet, but mainly because I do so many little quilts, the binding takes no time at all, and it's something for me to do while watching a show. This would be great for a larger quilt, though!

    1. Little quilts are worth spending time hand stitching on. Big quilts, not so much!

  6. Really? I thought the quilt police were fired long ago. Our early quilting ancestors would be either totally shocked or totally excited about how we make our quilts today. I remember about 40 years ago when I entered some quilts in the Houston Quilt Festival. There was absolutely no machine quilting allowed! Oh my, look how far we have come. I figure if I am going to FMQ on my quilt then I can certainly use the machine for the binding. It seems kind of silly not to do it all on the machine! Thanks for the tutorial.

    1. You have made some very good points! The other change I've seen is the use of polyester thread or any fiber for that matter for the quilting. Yeah!

  7. I tried the glue method. I had glue all over my hands, glue all over my iron, glue in my HAIR, burned fingertips trying to hold the binding down until the iron could dry the glue... Your binding looks FANTASTIC and if I could do mine that way without cursing up a storm, I'd do it that way on every quilt. No judging, no policing! I don't know where anyone got the idea that they could tell someone else they were making their quilt "wrong" in the first place. :-)

    1. Oh my! Please keep trying - less glue, smaller area to work with, and keep those fingers away from the iron! When you get it perfected, you'll be thrilled!

    2. I tried glue on a project when I first started quilting. I do not use glue but am working on machine binding smaller projects that I want to get finished and they are not going to be in a quilt show. Ah still the perverbably traditional quilter! But you have definitely perfected the glue aspect! Love this blue quilt!

  8. That is the same technique I use except I use a glue stick instead of the liquid. I don't iron mine after applying the glue as the glue stick seems to have a quicker stick. Great tutorial.

    1. I've try a glue stick, but for me, it tends to come unglued. But if that works for you - awesome!!

  9. Hi Susan! Love, love, LOVE this. I haven't tried this at all for two reasons. First, I still enjoy hand stitching bindings, and secondly because I didn't like the way it looked on the front, all wonky. But this looks like it would eliminate the second reason altogether. So next time I need a binding quick or have a small project to try it on, I'll give it a go. Thank you! Happy Tuesday! ~smile~ Roseanne

    1. Hope you do try it. It will be a blessing on a large quilt.

  10. You're too funny! And I still play with machine stitching, just annoyed that sometimes the 'top-stitching' on the back isn't always consistent. Today I stitched the binding to the front, turned it to the back and then top-stitched from the back! With closely matching threads to fabric, the stitching on the front, although not in the ditch, was still not noticeable...I continue to try to perfect it, because hell yeah, free up time! Good point on listening.

    1. Everyone wants more time, especially to quilt!

  11. To heck with those quilt police. I'm a by machine girl for binding too. I generally sew the binding on the back first and then clip like crazy once I've pulled it to the front. I may have to give your method a serious try for the next binding I need. It just looks so good! Thanks for the tutorial and the inspiration.

  12. Quilt police rarely give tickets. wink wink. Good job being resourceful and creative.

  13. This is genius! I just tried this on a baby quilt and it worked beautifully. Perfect alignment for stitching. Thank you so much for sharing this idea!


Thank you so much for just made my day!