Thursday, May 1, 2014

machine binding secrets to success

not only did the quilting stitching go well on this quilt, i had pretty smooth sailing through the machine binding, too. since this is a baby quilt, i decided to machine bind for added durability. this is the 4th or 5th baby quilt i have machine bound in the last month or so. i'm so happy to report that it really does get better with practice. and more patience and attention to detail. here's what's helped me improve:

  1. i accidentally cut the binding at 3" instead of the standard 2.5" yes, this really did help. it was the perfect size. after a few frustrated attempts at figuring out what seam allowance to use, i found a generous 1/4" was perfect. with the extra 1/2" i thought it would need more, but it didn't.
  2. i broke down and used a tape guideline on the machine to help with the seam allowance accuracy/consistency. um, it really does help. i just stuck about an inch of scotch tape on the sewing table to help me guide it from further back. even though it was transparent, i could see it and the scotch was easily removed afterwards.
  3. i went really slow. i got over the urge to just power through the mess. it's still much faster than handbinding so i might as well take my time and do it right, right?
  4. going slow involved stopping every inch or so to position the binding strip properly. as best i can describe it, i fold over the binding strip so that it is just covers the seam that attaches it to the quilt from the other side, and line up the inner edge of my walking foot's left toe with the outer edge of the binding. that sounds confusing, so look at the photo.

you can see that the walking foot has two toes, which both are open in the middle. look inside the toe on the left: the outside edge of my binding is just barely a smidgen visible along that little opening inside the left toe. the barest line of pink is visible inside that opening. that's what i found to be the right set up for my machine and foot. since the needle falls about 1/16th" to the right of that toe's inner edge, it gives me the perfect seam allowance to catch the edge without leaving too much flap there. on the other side of the quilt, there is a seam about 1/6th" from the edge visible on the binding. this is how i like it.

 this is the second side of the quilt - the one i was just demonstrating above. (called the second side because it's the second seam i sewed on the binding to attach it to the quilt.) if i pull back the binding just a bit you can see where the original attaching seam is just under that lip.

when i flip the quilt over to the back (the side i originally attached to binding to the first time before folding over), you can see that the second seam shows up almost at the edge of the binding.

it feels so good to be improving at this machine binding! after my first dismal attempt, i was feeling as if i'd met my quilt chore match. i guess even an middle-age quilting dog like me can learn new tricks. that's good because there is a whole lot more i want to learn about quilting.

linking up to kelly's needle and thread thursday at my quilt infatuation.


  1. looks great - I have not tried binding that way and always hand stitch to the back - your way looks nice too

  2. I am in awe of your binding -- it's my least favorite part of quilting so usually mine goes down with a decorative stitch but I am inclined to try this method.

  3. I am getting there to, I think the 3 in might help me out and I am one that likes to see how fast I can get out of this stitching races. Slow down Gal, I say..

  4. i need to slow down too.. its one of those things, you know your about finished. also I want to try the 3 inch, on the bigger twin quilts I am making for the older babies, I like a bigger binding and machine binding because the kids quilts have to be washed alot and i want the grandbabies to get lots of LOVE

  5. I love machine binding (as you know) and yours looks amazing! great tips!

    Thank you so much for partying at Needle and Thread Thursday!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

  6. Thanks for posting this... your end product is GORGEOUS! I too will prevail over machine binding!

  7. Thanks for posting this. I'm planning to try my first ever machine binding on a set of placemats I'm working on. I plan to go slooooooow!

  8. If you want a little more help with machine binding, I love the tutorial at Wasn't Quilt in a Day. You're finished quilt is gorgeous, btw.

  9. Loved you tip here! Thanks I will be trying it out!


a kind word is always appreciated. thank you for your visit.