How to machine bind a quilt

Posted by Alyce Blyth

Binding a quilt is the final, finishing step when making a quilt. Traditionally, the binding is machine-sewn to the front of the quilt, and then stitched to the back by hand. But I personally love the speediness and security of machine binding my quilts, that is, sew the back down by machine. And this is something you can do regardless of the size of your machine!

I have a Pfaff Passport 3.0 which is small but mighty, and includes the very useful IDT System – this is instead of needing to switch out the foot to a walking foot, as it is an integrated dual feed system that smoothly and evenly feeds the fabric through the machine. What this means is that the bulk of a quilt will easily feed through the machine and without needing to slow down the speed to a crawl.


The fun part of machine binding a quilt is that you can choose to use a regular straight stitch to make it disappear on the front of the quilt or choose something a bit more fun like a zig zag stitch or a decorative stitch!


If this is your first time trying out machine binding, I recommend doing so on a smaller quilt (a mini quilt or a baby quilt). As you get more confident, then you can attempt larger bed-sized quilts.

Once you’ve trimmed your quilt and made your binding as per usual, here’s how to machine bind a quilt.

What you need

  • Binding all ready to go
  • Iron + ironing board
  • Quilting clips – one per 4-5″ length of binding
  • Thread that matches the binding

1. Attach the binding to the front of your quilt as per usual.


2. Use an iron to first press the binding away from the front of the quilt top, and then again to fold it around to the back and press it into place. Use quilting clips to hold the binding in place.


3. Decide what stitch you would like to use – straight, zig zag, or decorative? Test out the stitches on some scrap binding until you find the one you like.


If you are going to use a straight stitch, use a top thread that matches the quilt top best. The bobbin thread may match the binding if you prefer, or you might like keep the colours the same to avoid any issues with contrasting threads showing in the stitches.

If you are going to use a zig zag or decorative stitch, choose a thread that matches the binding for both the top and bobbin threads.

4. Choose a place to start and place your needle down on the front of the quilt, right in the ditch between the binding and the quilt top. Note – if you are doing a zig zag stitch, you may like to use the ditch as the centre of the stitch, or choose to use it as the left-most part of the stitch; adjust your starting place accordingly.

5. Slowly and steadily, stitch along the ditch. When you get to a corner, keep the needle down in the corner, and lift your foot so you can pivot the quilt to sew along the next side. Keep sewing all the way around your quilt until you get back to where you started. Remove the quilt from the sewing machine and carefully check the back of the quilt to make sure you’ve caught the binding all the way around. Sometimes, you may have missed a spot, simply stitch back over that section.

And that’s it, you’re done! You’ve successfully machine bound a quilt.


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