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Key tips on sewing your binding by machine and thread choice

by Elaine Theriault

Welcome back to day three with the Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 965Q.

Did you change your needle? I’m always amazed at how we try to prolong using consumable items like a needle. Compared to the cost of the fabric we buy, a needle doesn’t cost much. But sew with a bad needle? You’re asking for trouble!

Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 965Q

Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 965Q

While I’ve been sewing for many years (we don’t need to say the number out loud, but it’s been a long time – OK – over 40 years!), I’m always learning new things. Some of them are things that I didn’t even know that I didn’t know and some are things that I know how to do, but not how to do them well.

When I first started to quilt, it was against the “rules” to sew a binding on a quilt by machine. I still don’t like sewing the binding on completely by machine but the number of samples that I have to make means that I don’t have time to hand stitch the bindings in place. I still hand stitch those quilts which are special.

That means that I’m on the hunt for new techniques and tips on how to sew the binding on better. I’ve even signed up for a class next month to see if I can glean any more ideas.

So the other day I had to sew a binding on by machine and I was contemplating what to use for thread. I’m currently using the straight stitch, although I do know people prefer one of the applique stitches (blanket stitch) and I use matching thread. The matching thread on the top is easy to use, but if you miss on the back and your binding is a significantly different color than the backing, the stitching will show and I don’t like that. Yep – I’m picky!

I start by installing the walking foot on the Sapphire 965Q. The extra set of feed teeth provides more stability along the edge of the quilt.

Using the walking foot to sew on a binding

Using the walking foot to sew on a binding

Sew the binding to the BACK of the quilt the same way that you would sew it onto the front if you were going to hand stitch it in place. I use one of the openings on the walking foot as my guide, but if in doubt, sew six inches. Remove the quilt from the sewing machine. Fold over the binding. Is it in the correct position? Does the quilt fill the binding? Does the binding cover the stitching line on the front of the quilt? If not, now is the time to correct the seam allowance.

As for the color of thread? Technically it doesn’t matter at this point as in a perfect world, all that stitching will be hidden.

Use a line on the walking foot for a guide for the seam allowance width

Use a line on the walking foot for a guide for the seam allowance width

Notice how that quilt and binding just slide up the extension table. There’s no drag, no pulling as there would be if the edge of that table was square.

The extension eliminates drag on the quilt

The extension eliminates drag on the quilt

Then you flip the quilt over and using thread that matches the binding and a straight stitch (length set to 2.5 or 3.0), stitch the edge of that binding in place.

Stitch the binding on the front of the quilt

Stitch the binding on the front of the quilt

Corners are a bit tricky, but after doing them a couple of times, you’ll have no problem. One of the features on the Sapphire 965Q that helps on the corners is the Extra Lift on the Sensor foot down and Pivot function. This is on the Function Panel on the front of the sewing machine. When I turn the corner with the binding, I need the extra lift (and the automatically lowering of the feed dogs) makes it easy to get the extra height of the binding corner under the presser foot.

Then while I’m holding all that in place, I can use the foot pedal to start sewing. No need to manually lower the presser foot. It’s all automatic. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Sewing the corner on the binding

Sewing the corner on the binding

Another feature that’s great when sewing on the binding or even going over lumpy seams is the Exclusive Sensor System. This technology means the presser foot is constantly sensing the thicknesses of what you’re sewing and adjusts the presser foot pressure and helps to keep the fabric feeding smoothly.

Did you notice that I didn’t mention what kind or color of thread that I used in the bobbin? Well, it was always the bobbin thread that I had trouble with. Since you are sewing on the top of the quilt, you can’t always predict what will happen on the bobbin side. Most times, the stitching ends up on the quilt, but occasionally, the stitching will end up on the binding. If the thread matches the backing, but not the binding, it becomes noticeable.

So as I was getting ready to stitch the second line of stitching, I had a thought. I have some pre-wound bobbins of invisible thread. I had purchased them for my longarm, but I’ve never used them. Would they fit the Sapphire 965Q?

Matter of fact, they fit perfectly. Yes, I was a bit hesitant to put them in the sewing machine, but I’ve used polyester pre-wound bobbins before for applique so why not pre-wound invisible thread.

The end result?? I’m very happy for two reasons. One the thread doesn’t show on the back of the quilt and second, I found a home for those pre-wound bobbins with invisible thread.

The invisible thread doesn't show up on the quilt backing nor the binding

The invisible thread doesn’t show up on the quilt backing nor the binding

Straight stitching on the binding

Straight stitching on the binding

Here are the bobbins I used. Now I bet you’re wondering why I can use a bobbin from the longarm in the domestic sewing machine? Well, there are four basic sizes of bobbins and as far as I know, sewing machines/long arms use one of those four sizes. It just so happens that my long arm and my domestic sewing machines use the same size bobbin.

The L bobbin, which is the ones that fit the Sapphire 965Q, is the most common bobbin size. And it also is a bobbin size that’s used in some longarm quilting machines. Who knew?

Pre-wound bobbins of invisible thread

Pre-wound bobbins of invisible thread

However, if you want to wind your own bobbins using invisible thread, here are a couple of tips.

  • Wind the bobbins at a SLOW speed. If you wind the invisible thread at a high speed, the invisible thread will compress the plastic bobbins and you may not be able to remove it from the bobbin winder.
  • Fill the bobbin only half full. Again, invisible thread is sort of stretchy and filling the bobbin can result in compressing the plastic bobbin or breaking it.
  • Use a good quality, fine invisible thread. Some of the original invisible threads were like fishing wire.

I’m feeling a whole lot better about sewing my bindings on by the sewing machine. I may try using invisible thread on the top in addition to the bobbin and try using a blanket stitch.

The joys of sewing. There’s always something more to learn!

I hope you enjoyed that tip on the binding and if you have tips for perfecting sewing the binding on by machine, please share them. I’m still experimenting. The Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 965Q has such an amazing feed system, that is super easy to get that binding on by machine.

Tomorrow, it’s all about topstitching and another couple of very important tips to make the topstitching spectacular.

Have a great day!


This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2:  Tips for successful sewing on the Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 965Q

Go to part 4: 5 tips for topstitching and its purpose in sewing


1 comment

Jamie W. February 22, 2017 - 10:34 pm

I’ve tried sewing the binding on by machine many times & it’s never pretty. Never thought of using invisible thread. Will have to give that a try


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