I have discovered my new favorite way to finish a quilt- it does not involve any hand sewing! I have been asked about this method by several readers, so thought I would put together what I hope is a helpful tutorial.
I like this method because it’s fast, easy, clean, and modern. Thanks to the oh so knowledgable and talented Irelle in our SBMQG who turned me on to this method, it’s become my new go-to method for possibly all my quilts from now on. I admit I felt a little bit like I was “cheating” when I first started using this method, but….. I got over that pretty quickly. Let me just say, I am by no means an expert on this method, I am simply sharing with you what I know and what has been working for me.
For the following tutorial, I will be assuming you have a basic understanding of traditional binding method and how to make the binding strip. I will go over the very basic steps to provide some context and as a little refresher if it’s been awhile. If you feel you would like more details, here is a great resource for you. I will refer to this a few times below.
Step 1- Preparing your work–
Prepare your quilt as you would for a traditional binding
It is very important to square up your quilt as precisely as possible here and to have really clean edges.
For this part my cutting mat, long ruler and a square ruler are my good friends, obviously it is much easier to do this with a small piece as I am using here. (not in the picture: my square ruler, used for checking accuracy)
When your corners and edges are all cleaned up and straight….
you are ready to attach your binding.
Step 2– Attaching the binding strip
Important!! For this method you need to attach your strip to the BACK of the quilt! Match the raw edges together and begin about 1/3 of the way from the bottom right side.
I like to pin the whole binding in place and close-up the strip using the method in the link above or your own preferred one. Then you are ready to begin sewing.
With your walking foot attached, begin sewing at the joined seam, using 1/4 inch allowance, just as you would for a traditional binding. Here, it is pretty crucial that you keep your 1/4 inch as consistent as possible if you want a clean, consistent look in the end.
When you get to the corner you can back-stitch a few stitches for extra strength. For more detail on this step, you can refer to the link above.
Step 3– Machine Bind Finishing—
After you have sewn the entire binding strip to the piece, you are ready to finish up using your machine! Here I like to add some quilting clips to hold my binding in place. Wrap the binding strip around to the front of the piece, taking care to pull consistently all along each side. I usually just clip one side at a time.
Beginning at the corner, sew all the way down one side using about 1/16 of an inch allowance. I just kind of eyeball it here and sew slowly to get as much consistency. stop sewing at about 1/4 inch from the bottom corner. Back-stitch if desired.
When you have finished sewing your first side, pull binding consistently and clip the next side. Take care to fold your corner over neatly and line up your needle with the beginning of that corner fold. Repeat the previous step. Sew all four sides.
Something to remember here is that the stitching you make on the front of your binding is going to be visible on the back as well. So you want to take a moment to think about thread color, as well as trying to sew a straight line-if that’s important to you. I don’t worry too much about it not being perfect because, in the end, I do still want it to have a handmade look.
One thing you can experiment with is using a bobbin color that blends better with the back of your piece. This is much harder if you have a pieced back. But it can be a possible option.
If you choose to do this just know that you may slightly notice the bobbin thread color come through on the front of your binding. Not a big deal but, it may be important to some.
Before I call it done, I sometimes like to put a few hand stitches with a matching thread on each front corner. This is not totally necessary but feels like it may make for a stronger binding. Maybe I’m just not completely ready to give up the hand stitching. Please notice in the above sample that the right side has been stitched with a different bobbin color and the top side used the same bobbin color.
Here is a finished sample (prior to hand stitching corners). This method takes me about 1/4 of the time and has, in my opinion, a very satisfying end result.
I’d love to know what you think about hand vs. machine binding. If you’ve never tried it and decide to give it a go, I hope you find this information helpful. Please comment on ways I could clarify or if you have any questions. This is the first tutorial I have created and am happy to get some constructive feedback.