December 30, 2016

Better at Binding by Machine

I recently finished two charity projects and sewed the bindings down by machine two different ways.  I am definitely getting more confient at machine binding now.

Binding First Sewn onto the Back

The first project is a small wholecloth baby quilt I made while trying out longarm quilting and posted here.  I intended for the floral to be the front of the quilt and the gingham plaid to be on the back.

Bias Binding sewn by machine

This was the first time I sewed the binding onto back of the quilt and then brought it to front to finish the topstitching.  And it was the the first time I tried sewing down bias bindng by machine.

The binding strips were cut 2 1/4" wide. I didn't want too much to fold over nor did I want to be short either.

I pinned the binding every 1 to 2 inches or so.  At the corners, I folded them where I would be sewing straight over the fold at the corner rather than against the fold. (Does that make sense?)  See if you tell by the photo what I mean.  The bottom was folded over first and then the left side folded over.

Binding pinned in place for machine sewing

I used my Clover seam ripper to gently nudge the binding in place before topstitching.  It has a rounded point and worked perfectly with the bias since it had more give then crossgrain binding.

Clover seam ripper used to nudge the fabric in place before sewing

Please excuse my well-used maching quilting gloves, but I usually wear them while sewing on bindng as they really help to manuver the quilt.

Wearing machine quilting gloves help to guide the quilt while sewing on binding

In the corners, I did back stitch once in each direction just to reinforce the seam with all the bulk and it is really not noticable.

Machine sewn bias binding

With this method of sewing the binding to back of the quilt first and then topstitching on the front, the bobbin thread or stitching line will be visible on the back of the quilt.  I was pleased with the binding width of 2 1/4" because after I sewed on the binding using a 1/4" seam allowance, the stitching line was an 1/8" or less from the edge.

Four corners of quilt after sewing binding down by machine

I just love the quilt all rolled up.  It was taken to my December guild meeting where it will be taken to Marys House, an emergency shelter providing temporary housing for women and their children fleeing domestic violance.

Binding First Sewn onto the Front

In the second method of sewing on binding by machine I first sewed the binding onto the front of the quilt and folded the binding to backside pinning in place.  But, instead of sewing the binding down from the back, I stitched in the ditch from the front.
Placemat made for recipient of Meals on Wheels

Here you can better see the where I stiched in the ditch from the front on these placemats made from a Susan Winget botanical fat quarter bundle received as a door prize.  My guild made over 300 placemats which were delivered in December to recipients of Meals on Wheels in Pickens County.

Placemats made for recipients of Meals on Wheels

By stitching in the ditch from the front, you are blindly stitching the binding to the backside.  Precise pinning is the key to nice topstitching on the back.  Two quilts I bound using this method are Free Ride, an appliqued elephant baby quilt and Sundae Plus, another baby quilt.
Backside of placemats after sewing down the binding by machine

I am happy to report that sewing the binding on this baby quilt completes my One Montly Goal for December and am linking up with Patty at Elm Street Quilts for December's link up.

And completing these placemats counts toward a finish for 2016 Q4 Finish-A-Long and will be linking to Q4 Finish-A-Long link-up.

Excited to get these charity projects finished by year end, I'm also linking to Finish It Up Friday, Finished or Not Firday, Fabric Frenzy Friday, Whoop Whoop Friday and Show Off Saturday.


  1. Beautiful work! I like to machine my donation quilts too. Faster and maybe more durable. And as to your well-used gloves, anyone who complains is not a friend of mine ; l

  2. Your projects turned out lovely. I too use this method for outreach projects. I have sometimes used the machine blanket stitch with this method too.

  3. All are so pretty. I always debate how to machine sew binding. Front first, back first... Thank you for the tips on sewing it either way. Your charity work is awesome. Bless you. Happy New Year :)

  4. Congrats on finishing two very pretty projects!

  5. I love that red gingham with that floral. Great combination.

    Happy new year!

  6. I use the 2nd method to sew down binding by machine because I find it looks hand sewn from the front. :-). You've got two great charity projects there!

  7. I really like your wholecloth quilt, Paige. Thanks for sharing your 2 methods for machine binding. I actually really like hand sewing binding, but occasionally time or other factors mean that machine binding is the way to go.

  8. Great description of these methods, thank you. I like to use the second one, but there always seems to be a spot that get's 'missed' on the back...have to keep practicing!

  9. The machine sewn bindings look great, Paige. I have found that lots of practice has helped me feel more confident about machine binding as well. It seems appropriate for smaller finishes to me and I think your descriptions of your process here will help others trying to decide to give it a try!

  10. Paige, you do beautiful work and your photography is always so good. I haven't learned the machine sewing binding method yet but I sure would like to!

    1. Thank you, Janice! Rita at Red Pepper Quilts has an excellent machine binding tutorial on the right sidebar of her blog.

  11. Like Judy, I need more practice on the second method! But I do the first method exactly like you do, well-used gloves and all :) Actually, I only use my left glove for binding, since my left hand seems to do all the manipulating of the heavy quilt while my right hand is doing the more delicate work of guiding the needle.

    Using a whole cloth quilt to practice long arm quilting, and then making it into a donation quilt is a great idea. The fabrics you chose for that one are so bright and cheerful!

  12. I like the look of the second method best, but sewing 'blind' is a bit scary for me. Do you have a preferred method? I need tons more practice and generally prefer to hand bind but sometimes need the speed of machine binding. Both your projects look great - your stitching is so precise and beautiful!

  13. Thank you for sharing your experience with machine stitching your bindings ! I really have to give it a try ...

  14. Beautiful! Your machine binding looks perfect!

  15. Both look very nice. I've actually tried the second way, but not the first. Do you have a preference as to which you like best?

  16. Beautiful finish! Thank you for participating in the FAL, on behalf of the 2016 global FAL hosts.