Machine Binding Tutorial


Updated 2/2014 with new photos

If there is a “proper” way to bind a quilt, it is most likely the one described in Heather Bailey’s well-written tutorial: machine stitch a double-fold binding to the front of a quilt, and then hand stitch the binding to the back of the quilt, complete with mitered corners.  The binding can be cut cross grain or on the bias; this method of binding seems to get the most precise results for the largest number of people.

Machine Bound Quilt

Sometimes, however, I don’t have time for hand stitching, or I simply want the durability and efficiency of binding a quilt by machine.

There are multiple ways to bind the quilt entirely by machine, and I think I have tried them all. I provide links to some alternate methods at the end of the tutorial. I still bind some of my quilts by hand, but for many of them, especially quilts I am donating, this is my binding method of choice.

This is how I bind quilts entirely by machine–binding by machine takes patience and practice to get a professional looking finish. If you are a speedy sewist, like me, you will want to slow down a bit.

I try to choose a binding that matches the back of my quilt– i.e. if I’m using a dark binding, I like to use a darker quilt back. If not, I often use one color for the top thread and one color for the bobbin thread.  If not, I just sew very carefully.


Make Continuous Binding

peacock blue binding

[These are instructions for creating straight-grain binding.]

1. Measure the height and width of your quilt. Multiply it by 2, and add 12 inches–this is the length of binding that you will need. Or use the Robert Kaufman Quilting Calc to determine the binding length. Or just wing it.

2. Cut your strips 2.25” or 2.5” x the width of fabric (WOF). For a baby quilt, for example, you will usually need four 2.25” strips (that measure 2.25” x 42”).

Note: I almost always include a splice of color somewhere in the binding, so gather a scrap or two if you would like. 

3. Place two strips right sides together, with the ends at a 90 degree angle as shown.

4. Mark a diagonal line (as shown) and stitch along the line.

machine binding tutorial picture

5. Repeat with remaining strips.

6. Press all seams, and trim them to a 1/4” seam allowance.

7. Fold the binding in half  and press along the length of the entire binding.

Attach the Binding to the Back of Quilt

photo 2

1. Choose a spot to start attaching the binding (I start 2/3 down the right side of the quilt).

2. Arrange the binding around the edge of the quilt. Verify that it is long enough, and also make sure that none of the seams are within a few inches of the corner. It is difficult to miter a corner on a seam.

photo 1

3. I sew the binding to the back of the quilt first; this means the stitches on the front of the quilt will be beautiful!

Lay the unfinished edge of the binding against the edge of the BACK of your quilt.  Measure 8-12 inches from the start of the binding, and start your stitching at this point (be sure to backstitch). Stitch the binding to the back of the quilt. Note: You can use a 1/4” foot, a “regular” sewing foot, or a walking foot to do this step. 

4. When you are 1/4 inch from the corner, stop stitching. Rotate the quilt 90 degrees, and stitch off the side of the quilt.

photo 3

5. To miter the corners, rotate your quilt so the sewn binding is at the top (as shown). Fold binding up 90 degrees. Press and pin.

-------6. Next, fold the binding back down and press.  Start stitching at the top of the binding/quilt, and stitch down side of quilt. (I do not pin, but I know that some people like to.)

photo 1 (2)

7. Repeat for the remaining 3 corners and sides.  On the last side, stop stitching 6 inches from the start of the binding and backstitch.


Join the Binding Ends:

1. Align the binding against the edge of the quilt, and overlap the binding ends.

2. If you used a 2.25” width binding, overlap the ends by 2.25” and mark. If you used a 2.5” width binding, overlap the ends by 2.5” and mark.

Overlap Binding

3. Trim the binding ends so that they overlap the proper length (2.25” or 2.5”).

4. Place the two strips right sides together, with the ends at a 90 degree angle as shown.

5.. Mark a diagonal line (as shown) and stitch along the line.

6. Place the binding against the quilt back to make sure it fits snugly. If it is too loose, unpick, remeasure, and re-sew. When it fits well, press, trim the seam allowance, and sew the remaining binding to the quilt, making sure to back stitch at both ends.
Mark and pin binding

Stitch Binding To Front of Quilt

1. With the back of the quilt facing up, press the binding flat. Then, turn to quilt over, and press it as you fold it over to the front. If it is helpful, use a ruler to make sure you are folding the binding over evenly.  I also press my corners, first on the back of the quilt, and then the front, fiddling with them if I need to so that the corner is nicely mitered.

Press binding

2. Start at one of the corners, fold down both edges of the corner, and use Wonder Clips (or pins) to hold the binding in place. Repeat for the rest of the binding, or until you run out of clips/pins.  I purchased mine on Amazon– Clover Wonder Clips, 50 Per Pack

wonder clips

3. I use an edgestitch foot (Bernina #10 for my machine)  and slowly stitch along the edge of the binding on the front of the quilt. Start stitching on the corner–if your machine will let you stitch in place, do it here. If not, you can do a small back stitch or bury your knots at the end. 


4. Sew the binding down, keeping your needle near the edge of the binding.
Turn the corner

5. When you get to the corner, pivot your quilt (needle down). Repeat with remaining sides and corners. When you get to the very last corner, do another stay stitch, and celebrate!

stitching on the back

Additional Machine Binding Resources
Binding Tutorial by Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts
Fast Machine Quilt Binding 101 by Amy from Diary of a Quilter
Machine Binding by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts
Machine Binding Tutorial by Nettie of A Quilt Is Nice
Pat Sloan’s Machine Binding Tutorial (blanket stitch)
Single Fold Binding by Kerry of Very Kerry Berry


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  1. euphoria
    Posted October 12, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    whenever I try machine binding, I can never get it right! I always have to finish the binding by hand. Thanks for the tutorial… I will give it another whirl!

  2. Posted September 3, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    When I make prayer quilts, which often have to be finished ASAP, I don’t do a binding. I layer the batting, then the backing right side up, then the top right side down. Sew along the edges, leaving 3-4 inch gap for turning right side out. Fold the edges in on the gap, then topstitch all around. I usually do two rounds of topstitching, one close to the edge to be sure and catch the folded-under gap, and then another row a quarter to half inch away. This gives a look similar to binding. You don’t get the added color of a separate binding, but it is lightning fast!

    • Danu
      Posted September 10, 2014 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

      Can you email me a picture.

  3. Trisha
    Posted February 23, 2014 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the step by step photos along with the written directions! I am a beginner quilter and after my classes couldn’t remember what the binding should look like when I finish the ends! Your tutorial is perfect!!!

  4. Sue
    Posted February 24, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I do most of my bindings this way, except that instead of a straight stitch I use my buttonhole stitch for the last top stitch. I like the decorative touch it adds. Sometimes I use contrasting thread color to really make it pop.

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted March 1, 2014 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      I like the idea of a buttonhole stitch. I will have to try it sometime. Thanks!

  5. Posted January 18, 2015 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Thank you very much Kate for this beautifully detailed and clear tutorial for machined binding. You encouraged me to take my time and thanks to that and your excellent tutorial I now have a neat binding and will probably never hand finish a binding again. I have bookmarked this page and will make sure I link to you when I get round to blogging about my little quilt which was a UFO but which will shortly be a finished quilt. I came here via google and have lingered long enough to read a few of your more recent posts. Many congratulations on your beautiful daughter and I hope you are now feeling much better and enjoying your lovely family.

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted January 25, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Thank you so much! I really appreciate your note, and I’m glad the tutorial worked for you. Happy sewing!

  6. Karen
    Posted March 20, 2017 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    I too am thankful for your tutorial! I’ve never machine stitch finished binding but had to try with a king quilt I completed. I know this quilt will be used for some time and wanted the binding secure. Hand stitching works for that too but tugging and washing can weaken thread I know. My quilt turned out pretty cool and it didn’t take me several evenings to finish.

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted March 22, 2017 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      oh, i’m so glad to hear it! i’ve been machine binding all of my quilts lately.

  7. Laura
    Posted April 18, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    This is how I bind my quilts too. The only thing I do different is to cut off a piece of the binding, unfold it and use it to measure instead of a ruler that I can never find, haha!

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted May 14, 2017 at 11:51 pm | Permalink


  8. Posted May 11, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for the tutorial. I made the Starbright Quilt for a friend’s newborn and machine bound it. I have nickel allergies and hand sewing peels my fingers. It looks lovely and I’m really proud of it.

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted May 14, 2017 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

      This makes me so happy. Thanks for taking the time to share.

  9. Rebecca Toman
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    The Craft Quilter shared your link on binding today and what hints you have given me. Never tried the edge foot on my machine for binding. Going to research if my Babylock Cresendo has one. Thanks for your clear tutorial. I have been quilting for many years now and unlike my deceased mother, I avoid hand sewing as much as possible so your info is quite helpful. Thanks.

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted November 3, 2017 at 1:27 am | Permalink

      thanks. i hope it helps! some years, I machine bind almost all of my quilts :)

  10. Katie Blakesley
    Posted November 3, 2017 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    thanks for the shoutout!

4 Trackbacks

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    […] x width of fabric strips. Join them together, and bind according to your favorite method. [I have a machine binding tutorial on my blog that I […]

  • By I Spy Ten Little Things Quilt « Moda Bake Shop on October 26, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    […] quilt and bind—I bound the quilt in my favorite coordinating solid using the same method as my machine binding tutorial. Finished Quilt: 48 1/2” x 50” –the perfect size for a preschool aged child […]

  • By My First Free Motion Quilt!! | Start at Home Decor on February 16, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    […] it!  I originally wanted to bind it with my machine so I followed this great tutorial by  Swim Bike Sew however I couldn’t get it to look as good as hers so I left the stitching on the back […]

  • […] With all of these quilts needing binding, I’m definitely choosing to sew them on entirely by machine.  Although I do enjoy finishing a binding by hand, I don’t have that luxury very often these days.  I’ve tried out many machine binding methods, but my current, preferred machine binding technique is to stitch the binding to the back of the quilt and then bring it to the front of the quilt and machine stitch it along the folded edge of the binding.   For more details, check out the machine binding tutorial by Katie at Swim Bike Quilt. […]

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