How To Bind A Quilt: Machine Binding For Beginners

Learn how to bind a quilt with the easiest machine binding for beginners! This method will produce a lovely professional finish even if you’ve never done this before!

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What is Machine Binding?

Machine binding a quilt simply means attaching the binding strip to your quilt with a sewing machine (rather than by hand). If you’re new to this and are wondering what on earth is a binding strip, make sure you read this tutorial on how to make binding for a quilt first.

The tutorial explains exactly how to calculate and make binding strips required to follow the steps in this article. (Of course, if you’re not into quilt math, you can always use our binding calculator and get our free binding size chart below!)

As with most things in quilting, there are many ways you can machine bind a quilt. I wanted to show you what I find is the best method that produces a nice clean finish and is also beginner friendly.

With this method, we’ll first machine sew the binding to the back of the quilt. Then, we’ll wrap the binding around the edges and finish by machine sewing the binding to the front of the quilt.

This allows you to have full control of where you’re sewing, which is particularly important for beginners. There are methods that give you an even cleaner finish (like our invisible stitch in the ditch machine binding), but they have to be done more or less perfectly to look good.

Here, you have much better control over where exactly you’re sewing. This will help you get a truly professional looking finish, even if you’re a beginner.

So, let’s learn how to bind a quilt!

How To Bind A Quilt Step-By-Step

Follow this step-by-step tutorial and learn how to machine bind a quilt.

Machine Binding Tools:

– Sewing Machine
– Walking foot
– Clips
– Pins
– Ruler
– Iron & Ironing Board

Machine Binding Materials:

– Finished quilt top (quilted and squared, edges are left raw)
– Binding strip – we make it 2 ¼’’ wide
– Thread

Machine Binding Instructions:

Step 1: Attach  the binding to the back of the quilt

First, make sure you have enough binding. (If you followed our tutorial on How to Make Binding for a Quilt, you should have enough.) I like to audition my binding strip by placing it along the perimeter of the quilt and making sure I have about 8-10 inches overage.

Then start attaching the binding. We’ll begin by attaching the binding to the back of the quilt. I like to start at about the middle of the chosen side of the quilt (it doesn’t matter which side you start with, as we’ll sew all around it anyway). Leave about 8 inches of the binding strip at the beginning, as shown in the picture.

Align the raw edge of the binding with the edge of the quilt. If you wish, you can use clips to attach the binding along the first side of the quilt (do not go around the corner just yet).

Step 2: Sew the binding

Place the quilt under the walking foot and lower the foot. Lock the stitch and sew along the edge of the quilt with about ¼’’ seam allowance (if using a 2 ¼’’ binding strip). I like to use a shorter stitch length here – about 2.0.

Step 3: Fold at the corner

To make a perfect corner, stop sewing a ¼ inch before the end of the side. To know exactly where to stop, you can mark a ¼ inch from the edge you’re approaching with a pin. When you are at ¼ inch before the edge, stop sewing and lock the stitch. Fold the binding over the seam to the right (see pic 3 above). Then, fold the binding a second time back to the left, so the fold is perfectly aligned with the edge. Clip the fold to keep it in position.

Step 4: Sew along the next side

Now, rotate the whole quilt counterclockwise. Start sewing a 1/4 inch from the left edge and 1/4 inch from the top (the point I am showing with the marking pen above). It’s important that you start sewing just right next to the 45-degree folded edge underneath. Make sure you are not sewing through the folded multiple layers of binding!

Lock the stitch at this point and sew a 1/4 from the edge towards the next corner. Repeat this method on the other 3 corners.

Read our tutorial on how to get perfect binding corners for some more mitered corner tips!

Step 5: Mark the connecting point

Stop sewing about 10 inches before you reach the starting sewing point (so you leave about 10 inches between both sides of the binding). Fold the ends of the binding and lay them with the edges neatly along the side of the quilt, leaving ¼’’ between them. Press with your fingers.

Step 6: Connect the binding ends

Take a pin, open the left end of the binding and put the pin through the intersection of the creases (I marked the creases with blue lines, so you can see them a bit better). The pin will go through on the wrong side of the fabric and come out on the right side. Now, grab the right end of the binding and again, slide the pin through the crease intersection. Only this time, start from the right side of the fabric, and come out on the wrong side.

Step 7: Sew the binding ends together

Lay the connected binding tails neatly under your quilt, as shown in the picture. Make sure the binding strips are opened exactly like shown in the picture: the strips are laid at a 90-degree angle right sides together and there’s no twisting.

Align the creases so you get a neat cross shape. Pin the binding strips together on both sides of the center pin, and remove the center pin.

Sew diagonally from one corner to another (along the green line in the picture) and make sure that you hit the center mark.

Step 8: Finish the seam

When you’ve sewn the diagonal seam, you’ll get something like what you see in the first picture above. Now, carefully cut away the tails of the binding strips (the excess lenght of the binding) with a ¼’’ seam allowance. Always double check that you’re cutting on the correct side of the seam. Cut away the dog ears (the little triangles coming out of the binding). Press this connecting seam open.

Now, align the binding strip with the quilt edge. Sew the remaining unattached part of binding to the quilt. Don’t forget to lock stitches at the beginning and at the end of the seam.

Step 9: Press binding

Open the binding and gently press with a hot iron.

Step 10: Clip the binding over and fold the corners

Fold the binding over to the front of the quilt and clip or pin it in place. Fold the corners, so you get a nice 45-degree finish.

I like to do this one corner at a time – I prepare one corner, sew around it, and then prepare the second corner (with the quilt still in the sewing machine), sew around it, and so on.

Step 11: Sew the binding to the front

Now it’s time to attach the binding to the front of the quilt. We’ll sew it in one single go, so one stitch along the entire perimeter of the quilt.

I like to use the same stitch length for this stitch as I did for the machine quilting (usually about 3.0).

Place the quilt with the front on top in your sewing machine and lower the presser foot. You want the stitich to go on top of the binding strip, right along the inner edge of the binding. I like to go pretty close to the edge. This way I get a neat finish on the front, while the stitch at the back of the quilt comes just along the binding.

Sew along the first side of the quilt. Continue sewing until you almost reach the corner. Before you hit the corner, prepare the corner fold or double-check if the corner fold is still in place. When you reach the corner, stop sewing, but don’t lift the needle. Leave the needle inside the quilt, and just lift the presser foot. Now slowly rotate the quilt (with the needle still inside the quilt) and reposition the quilt, so you can continue sewing along the next side.

Repeat on the following three corners and continue sewing until you’ve reached the beginning of the stitch. Secure the stitch and give yourself a high-five, you’ve just finished your quilt!

Hopefully, you’ll find this machine binding method as useful as we do. We probably bind 90% of our projects this way and after you’ve had some practice it really produces an amazing finish.

We have some great tips for gettng perfect quilt binding corners when attaching bindnig, so make sure you read that, as well!

And if you ever feel like you want to try something else or want an even more minimalistic finish, check out our Invisible Machine Binding Tutorial.

Happy binding!

Further Reading

Finish a Quilt in 5 steps

If you’re new to quilting and you’re overwhelmed with how to finish a quilt, here are the 5 basic steps with useful links:

  1. Choose backing for your quilt (we also show you how to calculate yardage here).
  2. Choose batting for your quilt.
  3. Baste the quilt.
  4. Quilt the quilt sandwich (either machine quilt it with a walking foot or hand quilt it).
  5. Make quilt binding and bind your quilt.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a small comission if you make a purchase on any of the affiliated sites (with no additional cost to you). Learn more here.

Machine Binding FAQ

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