7 essential tips for sewing the binding on a quilt by machine

Welcome back! In the last couple of days I talked about several options on how to cut fabric to make the binding. So today, we’re sewing the binding onto a quilt using some of the amazing features of the Husqvarna Viking Epic 980Q to make this job super easy.

Husqvarna Viking Epic 980Q

Before we dive into the binding section, I have a couple of notes about quilting on the Epic 980Q.

In order to present you with ideas and options for the remainder of the week, I had to get my act together and finish quilting a few items.

In the picture below, I’m in the middle of quilting a table runner. Notice how that wide throat space made it easy to quilt in any direction. I realize this is only a table runner, but imagine what it would be like to quilt a larger quilt! And the speed of the Epic 980Q is unbelievable. I was zipping along at a very fast pace with the Dual Feed Foot. There are way fewer vibrations, even at high speed than with other machines. That was awesome and easier on the eyes and nothing fell off the sewing table!!

Let’s just say that that table runner was quilted in a very short time.

Large work area to the right of the needle makes for easier quilting.

And here, when I have to fold in the ends, there’s so much space. More space means less time fussing and arranging the quilt as you work.

The extension table is a must if you’re going to do any machine quilting.

Large work area means you spend more time quilting and less time arranging your quilt.

Trimming a quilt

I needed to trim my quilted items before I could bind them and I thought I’d share how I do that in preparation for sewing on the binding.

While some people sew the binding on before they trim a quilt, I like to trim my quilt and then put the binding on. I haven’t figured out what the advantage of doing it the other way is, but I’m comfortable with trimming first. You know what they say, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. But I’ll investigate that other method so when I’m back, I can let you know what I found out.

I start by trimming a corner and using a large square ruler, I tug the backing and batting to get the quilt corner square under the ruler and then trim up the right side of the ruler and across the top.

Start in a corner with a square ruler when trimming a quilt.

Then I place a long ruler parallel to the edge of the quilt and extending back over the part that has already been trimmed to ensure the trimmed edges will be straight. Don’t forget to tug up or down to line up the quilt properly. Then trim. Continue around the quilt, using the large square in each corner and the long ruler along the sides and top and bottom.

It helps to keep the quilt as flat as possible when doing this step, but most of us don’t have a space large enough to do that. Just make sure the edge you are trimming is flat and not falling off the cutting table which can distort the edges.

Using a long ruler to trim the edges of a quilt.

Here’s a picture of the quilting I did on the table runner. Not all projects need dense quilting.

TIP Intentionally wavy lines are way easier to stitch than straight lines. They’re fast and there’s no right or wrong. The speed on the Epic 980Q with the walking foot was incredible. This took no time at all to quilt. Notice that I did a little stitch in the ditch in those small four-patch blocks.

Open density quilting with easy wavy lines of stitching

Prepping the quilt edges to sew the binding on

It makes it a lot easier to sew the binding on if the edges of the quilt are secure. In the table runner above, the quilting comes right out to the edges and are sewn in regular intervals on the quilt. That’s enough to secure the edges so they don’t shift while the binding get stitched on.

In the table runner below, which was quilted on the long arm, you can see there’s a basting stitch that runs around the perimeter of the quilt. This one is definitely stable enough and doesn’t need any further work before the binding goes on.

The edges of the table runner have been secured in place by basting during the quilting process.

On the quilt below, the edges were serged to secure the three layers together.

The edges of the quilt have been serged before the binding is stitched on.

The quilt below was quilted on the Epic 980Q and while the ends of the table runner are well secured as the quilting ran right off the ends, the sides have no quilting that comes to the edges. This would make it difficult to stitch the binding on without some sort of shifting or tucks on the front.

There’s no stitching along the edges of this table runner to secure the three layers together.

If the edges of your quilt are not secure, it’s a good idea to finish them off. In the example below, I used the three-step zigzag on the Epic 980Q to secure the long edges of the table runner.

I used the “baste” sewing technique from the JoyOS Advisor on the Epic 980Q and all the settings were chosen for me!

The edges of the table runner have now been secured with an overcast stitch.

Setting up to sew on the binding

Before you can sew on the binding, you need to gather up the supplies. Today, we’re only sewing the binding to the quilt on the one side. So if you’re going to stitch the binding down by hand, this will work for you. If you’re going to stitch the binding down by machine, this is part one.

Time to get out that bundle of binding that you made yesterday and we need some thread. At this stage, it doesn’t matter what color of thread you use. I aim for a dark thread on the top and in the bobbin for dark bindings and a light thread on the top and in the bobbin for light bindings. I use whatever bits happen to be left on my bobbins. No need to get picky as this stitching won’t ever be seen.

Dark thread for the top and bobbin to stitch on the brown binding

You want to attach the Dual Feed foot. This is very important and will help to prevent wavy edges on your quilt.

The Dual Feed foot

Sewing the binding to the quilt

It’s time to start sewing the binding onto the quilt. If you’re hand stitching the folded edge of the binding in place, then you want to be stitching the binding onto the FRONT of the quilt. If you’re stitching it down with the sewing machine, then you want to stitch the binding onto the BACK of the quilt.

I like to use a small label inserted into the bindings for my quilts, so I get one of those ready before I start stitching.

I like the small label to be on the left-hand side of the quilt as you look at the front. I start with that corner, so I don’t forget to insert the label as I’m stitching. You can start wherever you would like, but NOT at a corner.

Choose a spot to start stitching the binding on, but not a corner.

TIP I set up a table to help support the quilt. In the picture below, you can see that most of the quilt is on the extra table that I set up which is BESIDE me and not directly on the left of the sewing machine. Otherwise, you’re tossing and turning that quilt and it’s falling all over the place. The worst is that it’s pulling the quilt which can cause broken needles, an uneven seam and lots of other issues. The extra table is a blessing.

An extra table to the left and front of the sewing machine to support the quilt.

I start by leaving a beginning tail of binding of about 6″. Again, do NOT start in a corner.

Leave a 6″ beginning tail of binding.

Remember we chatted about the width of strips to cut for binding. I like to use 2½” strips. That means I’ll need to take a wee bit wider seam allowance (a GENEROUS ¼”) than I’m used to in order to get the same width of binding on the front as I do on the back. I also want my binding to be filled with the quilt. I have pictures to show you in tomorrow’s post which shows you exactly what I mean.

You can see in the photo below that I’m using the right-hand side of that long opening in the Dual Feed foot as my guide. You need to figure out what seam allowance will work for you.

TIP Sew about 8 – 10″ of the binding and remove it from the sewing machine. Fold the binding over. Does the quilt fill the binding and still cover the seam that was used to do the first line of stitching? If so, you know you have the right seam allowance. If it doesn’t, then you need to adjust the seam allowance.

Using a guide on the Dual Feed foot to get the appropriate seam allowance.

There are some useful functions on the Epic 980Q to make the task of sewing a binding on much easier. Use the Needle Stop Up/Down so that when you stop sewing, the needle stays in your quilt and helps to hold it in place. This will help prevent a wonky seam allowance.

I should mention that not only the speed of the Epic 980Q makes attached a binding a very fast task, but there’s a lot of power in this sewing machine. The Epic 980Q has no issues going through many layers especially at the corners.

The Needle Stop Up/Down light on the Function Panel indicates this feature is engaged.

You want to use the FIX function at the corners to help anchor the ends of the seams.

The FIX light on the Function Panel indicates that this feature is engaged.

Sew to the end of the quilt, stopping at whatever distance away from the corner by the width of the seam allowance. If I’m using a ⅜” seam allowance, then I stop ⅜” from the bottom of the quilt and I use the FIX function to anchor the seam.

Stop before the edge of the quilt and anchor the end of the seam.

Remove the quilt from the sewing machine and lay the binding “north” of the quilt, keeping the raw edges of the binding parallel with the raw edge of the quilt.

Lay the binding “north” of the quilt, keeping the raw edges parallel

Fold the binding down so that the raw edge of the binding is still parallel to the raw edge of the quilt. But now you have a little boxy flap of binding in the corner. This will give you a nice miter when you do the second part of stitching the binding to the quilt.

TIP Do NOT leave extra binding here. That fold at the top should be parallel or just slightly less than the edge of the quilt. If you leave more here, you’ll get a bulky corner that doesn’t look pretty.

The top fold should be parallel or slightly less to the edge of the quilt.

A quick tap on the Presser Foot Up and Extra Lift function at the corner will raise the Dual Feed foot slightly higher so it’s easy to get all that bulk under the foot at the corner. Again, use the same generous seam allowance that you used for the first seam. And use the FIX function to anchor the start of the seam.

Use the Presser Foot Up and Extra Lift to easily get the bulky corner under the Dual Feed foot.

TIP Use your quilting glove (on the left hand) to help maneuver the quilt. I find it much easier to manipulate the quilt when I have my quilting glove on. Better handling of the quilt will help to give a smoother seam allowance which will give a more even binding on the front.

Use your quilting glove to assist in maneuvering the quilt.

TIP As you’re sewing that binding on, give the binding a bit of a tug all the way around. If you just let the binding guide itself, you will get “extra” binding that you don’t need and there’s a good chance that the edge of your quilt will be wavy. Don’t forget to use the extension table as well when applying binding. That curved front edge will help the binding glide more easily under the Dual Feed foot.

Give your binding a bit of a tug as you apply it to help prevent wavy edges.

In the first photo below, you can see that the edges of the quilt are pretty flat, while the second quilt has a few waves on the edges which were caused by NOT giving the binding a bit of a tug as it was applied.

The edges of the quilt are very flat.

The edges of this quilt are slightly wavy.

The final join

Pay close attention to this next step. If you only take ONE thing away from the blog posts this week, this should be it.

Continue around the quilt until you’re about 12″ away from where you started. Remove the quilt from the sewing machine and overlap the ending tail onto the tail that you left at the beginning of the binding seam.

Overlap the beginning tail of binding with the ending tail of binding.

If you still have a selvage on the beginning tail, trim that away with scissors. You can see in the photo above, that there’s a large white selvage. Get rid of that.

Now you want to trim the ending tail so that it overlaps the beginning tail by the WIDTH of your binding. In my case, the overlap will equal 2½”.

You can use a ruler to measure the overlap and scissors to cut it.

Use a ruler to measure the overlap and scissors to trim the excess away.

Or you could twist the very end of the binding around and use that as the guide. Then there’s no mistaking what the width of the binding measurement is.

Use the end of the actual binding to measure the overlap and then trim with scissors.

Now the two tails overlap each other by the width of the binding.

The two ends of binding are overlapping each other by the width of the binding.

Remember back on day one, I talked about consistency in joining the strips? Well, we’re going to take the tail on the right (looking at the BACK of the quilt) and place it face up. Then take the tail on the left and place it at right angles and face down to the beginning tail. Just like when we joined the strips for the rest of the binding. In this case, there’s no extra hanging over the ends.

Pin the seam to join the two ends of the binding.

TIP PIN the seam line. This is absolutely critical. I’ve heard too many times from quilters that their binding got twisted or they sewed the seam in the wrong direction. So PIN where you’re going to stitch.

Then open the binding up so you can see if you’ve got it correctly before you sew. You can see that in the picture below.

Lay the pinned binding out BEFORE you sew.

You can see that the binding looks great as I have pinned it. So I’ll sew that seam being careful to start and stop where the corners meet.

Then, I’ll press that last seam open, give the binding a little press at the seam so the fold is nicely pressed and go back to the sewing machine to finish sewing that binding to the quilt.

Press the join seam open

The final join is done and there’s no guesswork, no extra bulk, and NO ONE will be able to tell which of your joins was the first one or the last one. The joins are all done using the same method. It’s brilliant.

As easy as that, the binding is on the quilt. Now if you’re going to hand stitch that binding, you’re finished with the sewing machine, but if you’re going to sew the next step by sewing machine, then be sure to come back tomorrow.

I’ve been playing with all kinds of stitches and threads and of course, the Husqvarna Viking Epic 980Q and I think you’re going to be impressed. You might even wish you had sewn your binding to the back of your quilt so you could stitch it by machine.

Have a great day!


This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2: 9 steps to making continuous bias binding

Go to part 4: Stitching down the binding: thread color, stitches and stitch length

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9 steps to making continuous bias binding

THE formula for calculating the necessary yardage for binding your quilt

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Anita November 3, 2019 - 11:04 am
A great tutorial!
Nancy Giese February 1, 2019 - 8:10 am
I find your articles so informative. Thanks for the information.
Annalutzbrown March 28, 2018 - 6:11 pm
Very great info some I new some I didn't tyty will s3nd my friends here to help them
Anna brown March 28, 2018 - 6:04 pm
This is a good tutorial on how to do the binding ty for sharing....
Laura M March 28, 2018 - 11:32 am
I really appreciate just how detailed all the tutorial are on quilt social. Really a big help. Thanks for your efforts, to all of the team who post.
carol nelms March 28, 2018 - 7:40 am
Thanks for the great info.
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