Machine Binding Tutorial – Part 1


Binding is the finishing touch of any quilt. Some quilts you want to have a very subtle binding that blends in with the pattern and doesn’t command too much attention. Sometimes, it even has to be a facing that’s not visible from the front at all.

And other times, binding that really pops adds just the right amount of zing to finish off a quilt.

One of my absolute favourites is striped binding. It does make you go a little wonky-eyed cutting it, but it just adds so much fun to a quilt.

I often get asked how I bind my quilts. Do I bind them by machine or by hand? What’s the best way to do it by machine? etc.
So I thought I’d start up a little tutorial series to help out.

The first step will be making the binding strips. We’re talking about straight-grain binding here, not bias binding. Bias binding would be needed if your quilt had curved edges, such as scalloped edges, or rounded corners. But for a regular quilt with straight edges, all you need is binding strips cut on the straight of grain.

So, let’s get started.

First off, you’ll need to determine which way you need to cut your fabric. This is especially important if there is a pattern that you want to go a certain way on your binding. With stripes, for example, you’d likely want them to run “around” the edges of your quilt, not along the edge lengthwise. Once you know how you’re cutting the fabric, you can figure out how many strips of fabric you’ll need by adding the length and width of your quilt, multiplying that number by 2, and adding 10″ for wiggle room and corners. Now, divide that number by the length of fabric you can cut, round up to the next whole number and that’s how many fabric strips you’ll need to cut.

For example, if you’re cutting your fabric selvedge to selvedge, you will likely have about 40″ of fabric length to work with (a standard bolt is between 42″ to 44″ wide). Let’s assume our quilt is 36″ wide x 42″ long. So you’ll have 36″ + 42″ = 78″ x 2 = 156″ + 10″ = 166″ total length that you will need.

Since you have 40″ available per strip, dividing 166″ by 40″ = 4.15, which means you’ll need to cut 5 strips (rounding 4.15 up to the next whole number).

So go ahead and cut five 2 1/5″ wide strips of fabrics.

Then you will sew them into one long strip by laying your first strip down right side up, and your next strip wrong side up and at a right angle. The corners meet exactly. Pin in place, then mark a diagonal line as shown in this picture. You will cut off the small triangle at the top right here, so make sure the diagonal line runs this way.

Sew on the marked line, then cut off the triangle a 1/4″ away from the stitching.
If you’re unsure, take the pins out before cutting and open up the strip to make sure you sewed it the right way. At this point, you can still unpick it and sew it again. Cut when you’re sure it’s done right.

Repeat this step until you have sewn all the strips together. If you’re using solids that don’t have a right and wrong side, check that you’re sewing on the proper side as you go along, and don’t cut anything until you’ve finished the whole long strip. Then check the entire length and make sure all your excess triangles are on the same side of the strip (ask me how I know about that one lol).
Once they’re all cut, go ahead and press the seams open. This helps reduce bulk when you go to sew the binding onto your quilt.

Your black and white stripes may or may not line up 🙂
Now you can go ahead and fold your strip in half lengthwise, right side out, and press it well.

Now you’re ready to bind your quilt.
I like to roll my binding onto a Binding Baby, but any kind of spool or even just wrapping it around your hand to make a nice loop will do the trick. You just want to keep it untangled for easy sewing.

Head over here for the second part on how to actually attach the binding.

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