The Mother Load – Machine Finished Binding Tips and Tutorials
One of my proudest accomplishments in learning how to make a quilt has been developing a machine finished binding method that works for me. But, believe me, this was not achieved without a lot of trial and error.
For my first attempt, on my Fall Leaves quilt, I followed the instructions given by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts. She is a polished quilter who turns out the most beautiful quilts. But her method, for me, was just not how I wanted my finish to look. Rita’s method is accomplished by sewing from the back of the quilt, ditch quilting along the binding, and catching the binding folded around to the front from underneath. This method involves the added step of pinning. Yet, I still missed some places on the front binding and it did not look straight. I would show you up close pictures of that hot mess, but I am no long in possession of that quilt.
|Flowers in the Sun quilt with a flanged binding|
Then I found a tutorial for Susie’s Magic Binding by the talented Aunt Marti of 52 Quilts in 52 Weeks. I fell in love with this technique which uses two narrow complimentary strips to make the binding strip. This method adds a little punch of colour and frames your quilt in style. The binding method is accomplished by sewing from the front of the quilt, ditch quilting on top of the binding, along the seam where the two strips meet. This will result in a seam line, next to the binding, on the reverse side of the quilt. It does require an extra step in making the binding because you have to sew the two narrow strips together along the length of the binding strips. When making your final joining seam, it can be a bit tricky to get the seam to match. This method is known as flanged binding.
|Sew Retro, Baby quilt with a flanged binding|
After practicing the flanged binding method on many, many quilts, my confidence grew with experience. And I was eager to attempt machine sewn binding without the extra step of sewing two narrow strips together to make the binding strip.
I highly recommend this tutorial by Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts. Be sure to read her additional remarks at the end of the tutorial, which she has since edited to add.
|Oh My, Scrappy Stars with machine finished binding made from 2.25″ binding strips|
There is one thing I can say that will help you to become proficient at machine finished binding –
Practice makes perfect. And it is just sew true. There are a gazillion binding tutorials out there. Read a few of them. Bookmark the ones you think will work for you. And practice. Take it from me and my Fall Leaves quilt. Don’t think you can’t do it just because it didn’t turn out perfect the first time.
Don’t give up – PRACTICE. You can do it!
|Broken Herringbone, Baby! quilt using 2.5″ binding|
Here is a list of tips for mastering double fold machine sewn binding:
- Cut your binding strips from the cross grain (selvage to selvage), across the width of the fabric.
- Start out making your binding strips 2.5″ in width, then use 2.25″ when you are more confident.
- ALWAYS measure your quilt’s sides and make a plan to ensure none of your binding seams will end up at the corner. Or lay your binding around the edge to see if any seams land at the corners.
- After attaching the binding to the back of the quilt, use a hot iron to press the binding back towards the front of your quilt. This extra step is well worth the effort.
- Increase your stitch length when top stitching the binding onto the front of your quilt. I normally use a stitch length of 3 for small projects, 3.5 for baby quilts and 4 for bed quilts. Except when I forget, like on the broken herringbone quilt above! I feel a longer stitch looks more attractive than the short piecing stitch length which is between 2 to 2.2
- I offset my needle, and line up the folded edge of the binding with my walking foot, to ensure a straight and even final seam line when top stitching the binding to the front of the quilt.
- Although none of the above pictures show my final step, I also hand stitch the corners folds on all my bindings using a ladder stitch.
|Gone Fishing quilt using matched binding|
When you have mastered your machine finished binding, you may want to try your hand at making a matched binding. Debbie of A Quilter’s Table has a great tutorial. Matched binding uses the same fabrics as your quilt top.
What else can you do? How about a scrappy binding?
Here is another excellent tutorial by Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts for scrappy binding.
Remember, there are many ways of doing things. And there are many great quilting bloggers who have shared their experiences by writing tutorials.
You can master machine finished binding, too! I believe in you!