Perfect quilt binding by hand, perfect quilt binding by machine

Hello! Yesterday I demonstrated the first steps in adding a binding to a quilt. Today will be all about how to finish attaching the binding to the quilt either by hand or by machine. I’ll demonstrate these methods using the following two quilts.

The binding on the top quilt was sewn by machine and the quilt on the bottom was sewn by hand

Before I begin today’s post, I’d like to share two terms. When a binding is sewn on a quilt is it always referred to as sewing the binding by hand or by machine. This always refers to how the folded edge of the binding is sewn to the quilt.

Attaching the binding by hand

When attaching the binding by hand, the first thing you need to do is to temporarily secure the binding to the edge of the quilt. While this step doesn’t need any special pins or tools, I strongly recommend using Heirloom Clever Clips. These clips make this easy first step even easier.

Heirloom Clever Clips

Wrap and clip the binding to enclose the edge of the quilt as shown below. Ensure the binding is folded to the back of the quilt. The binding will stay in place before you sew it onto the quilt’s edge with the help of evenly spaced Clever Clips.

Secure the binding in place, enclosing the quilt edge using Clever Clips

There’s no right or wrong way to space the clips, but, in my experience, when first trying out this method, it may help to space the clips closer to each other. Then, as confidence builds, the clips could probably be spaced 4″ to 5″ apart.

TIP The exception to the 4″ to 5″ spacing rule is around corners. I put a clip close to each side of each corner and a third clip directly on each corner when both edges are perfectly aligned as shown in the next photo.

Use Clever Clips to properly align binding at the quilt’s corners

Before placing clips on the corners, open out and pull back the binding, then carefully clip away the quilt’s corners to reduce bulk. This will make it easier to fold the binding over on the corners as shown below.

Snip each of the quilt’s four corners

With the binding held in place with the clips, it’s time for a needle and thread. There’s no right or wrong hand-sewing needle as long as it’s thin (no upholstery needles).

Some quilters sew the binding on with the thread showing while others, like me, prefer to hide the thread. To do so, simply place the needle’s point under the binding edge and pass the needle between both layers of binding fabric for approximately ⅛”, then pass the needle between the quilt backing fabric, also for approximately ⅛”. After a few stitches, it will be easier and faster to do, and the binding will be finished in no time.

Hand Binding

Attaching the binding by machine

The second method for attaching binding to a quilt’s edge is by sewing the binding on using a sewing machine.

Yesterday’s technique showed how to attach the binding to the quilt’s edge, which can be used for both sewing the binding by hand and by machine. When I sew the binding by machine, I find the finished look of the quilt is better when I first sew the binding to the back of the quilt. I then flip the binding to the front of the quilt and finish sewing the binding down with the front of the quilt facing up.

Because the quilt I’m using to demonstrate binding by machine has a fleece backing, the binding strips were cut 2¼” wide. Also, since this quilt was made with scrap pieces of fabric, the binding strips were also cut from miscellaneous leftover fabrics to add an element of fun to the quilt top.

Sew the binding to the back of the quilt.

Sewing the binding onto all four sides of the quilt

Use the Clever Clips as described above for the hand-sewing method to secure the binding to the quilt’s edges for machine sewing.

Use Clever Clips to hold the binding in place before sewing

TIP Use a bi-level topstitch presser foot to make it easier to sew the binding onto the quilt’s edge.

When the quilt and presser foot are in place, move the needle to the far-left position. After doing a couple of trial stitches it will be obvious if the needle needs to be moved back to a position on the right. Sew the binding onto the quilt edge through all fabric thicknesses. Because this quilt is multi-colored, there is no right or wrong thread color to use. I used a cream-colored thread for this quilt since there are two cream-colored strips as part of the binding.

Position the needle to the far left along the edge of the binding

When at a corner, ensure the needle is in the down position, then pivot the quilt to sew the next side of the quilt. Continue sewing until the binding is attached to all sides of the quilt.

With the needle in the down position, pivot quilt

Machine binding

My friend Jill Doucet-Dewar collects quilts for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Eating Disorder Day Treatment Program. These two quilts will be donated to Jill’s efforts.

Day 2 is done, with two quilts completed!

Both binding techniques shown today were easy to do and each has its own advantages. Binding by hand takes longer but can be very relaxing. Machine binding is definitely quicker for those last-minute quilt projects.

Stay tuned, tomorrow’s binding technique involves the application of two fabric bindings.

This is part 2 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 1: How to sew the perfect quilt binding by hand or by machine

Go to part 3: Bi-colored quilt binding: 1 color for front another color for back

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