Saturday, July 30, 2011

Binding (Totally!) by Machine

Oh, my aching hands!  I hand stitched the binding to my last quilt, and I hope it's the last quilt I hand stitch the binding to.  

Remember the "Charm" fabric line by Amy Butler?  I fell hard, let me tell you!  That's when I started my love affair with the new "modern" fabrics (at least they were new to me).  I bought a bunch and made a top, then put it away to percolate in my UFO stash.  I loved the fabrics and colors and wanted to make a bed quilt, so when I dragged it back out, I added borders to make it big enough.  But I was still dragging my feet about quilting it, and then --- argh! --- binding it. But I've learned to cheat -- heehee. 

Ricky Tims has a DVD called "Grand Finale" which is one I recommend to everyone, no matter how experienced you are, or what style quilts you make, you'll learn something valuable.  The DVD focuses on not just quilting your quilt, but prepping it, trapunto, bobbin quilting, marking it, quilting it and then binding it by machine.  It's also entertaining.  Where was I?  Oh yes, binding by machine!  His quilts are award-winning and internationally acclaimed, and he puts his bindings on by machine.  He is very specific about his method of binding, and it turns out beautifully.  That said, I've adapted my own method of cheating technique that works for me, and that's fast, fast, fast!  

You start by sewing the binding to the back of the quilt.  I use a seam that's about 3/8".  Then, press the binding flat, away from the quilt.  Flip it over.  Turn on the iron.  Now you begin the magic trick.  Apply a line of Elmer's WASHABLE School Glue along the seam for about 18".  
Fold the binding over the glue and press it till the glue is dry, just a few seconds.  Continue all around the quilt.  
When you get to the corner, apply glue, press down one edge, then add a dab of glue under the corner, and continue down the other side.  The corners will be mitered, the binding will be glued down, and all you'll have to do is sew it down.  With thread matching the binding on top, and bobbin thread matching the backing, I use my Janome foot "S" that has a alignment foot down the center, and move my needle several clicks to the right to ensure the stitching goes into the binding.  You don't need a special foot, but this makes it easy for me.  I use a straight stitch, you could use a decorative stitch or zigzag.  
When I get to a corner, I continue stitching up the mitered edge, back down, and go around the corner.  No need to go back to stitch those corners!  And voila'!  The glue washes out completely, so you don't even have to be careful about applying it neatly.  Unless it will be a piece that will not be washed -- in that case, be more careful with applying the glue, and use a wet washcloth if it globs outside the binding line.  

The picture I took of the quilt on the bed didn't turn out well, the colors don't look good for some reason.  So I'll add it later.  But it didn't take long, I promise!, from start to finish.  Try it on a small project, or just a practice quilting piece and see what you think.  

Anything to make it easier while still getting good results is a good thing, right?

Here's a comfort quilt I offered to quilt for our guild, it's a cute 3-D bowtie pattern.  You can't see it, but I did loops in the printed part of the blocks and outlined the bowties to make them stand out.  It was fun to do, and some little girl will enjoy sticking her fingers into the 3-D bowties :-)


  1. How crafty are you?! Gluing down your binding...I say it's brilliant.

    Do you use 2.5" strips with your 3/8"?

    My problem with machine binding is that the seams never match up 100%.

  2. Thanks so much for posting the hot tips! I tried machine binding for the first time the other night, and it went okay, but not great. I'm going to try your method next time.

  3. I use the glue method with machine binding - but I really prefer to hand stitch my bindings.

  4. What a great idea! I will have to try that.

  5. Great technique on the quilt binding! LOVE IT!

  6. Thanks Brita! Love your tutorial and absolutely love Ricky Tims!