Before you bind your quilt, you should determine what the quilt will be used for. Some examples of quilt use include, being loved on by a child or family member, hanging in your home as a wall-hanging or even being entered into a quilt show. This tutorial focuses on “machine binding” a quilt, not hand binding. I use machine binding for quilts that will be loved on or that will serve as wall hangings of some sort. I do not use machine binding for quilts I plan to enter into a show…those quilts I hand bind. I choose machine binding for loved on quilts for a couple of reasons:

  1. It is faster. Much faster!
  2. They received a LOT of washing…maybe someone could prove me wrong…but it feels like machine binding holds up better to the loving on and washing.


Step 1: Cut strips 2.25″ by Width of Fabric (WOF). To determine the number of strips necessary (I like extra), I add up the total of all for edges of my quilt. Then I multiply that by 40″ (because the usable portion of the WOF is about 40″). To allow for seam allowances to stitch them together, I add an extra strip. Easy math. NOTE: Some people like to cut their strips at 2.5″ or larger. I find that using this method, 2.25″ allows for a “full binding” that finishes neatly. Full binding means that there is “quilt edge with batting” filling up the binding.

Step 2: Press all strips in half. Fold each one over, lining up the raw edges length wise, and press a crease down the center.

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Step 3: Overlap the Ends. Begin with two strips. Lay one end over the other, right sides together (RST), at a 90 degree angle leaving an overlap of 1/8 to 1/4″.

Step 4: Mark the Ends for Stitching. Getting this image in your head will help you sew your seams in the right direction in the future. When you overlap the ends, you have two long tails and two nubby tails. When you think about sewing a seam, think about it cutting the piece in half. You want to keep the nubbies together and the tails together. Line up the 45 degree line on your ruler with the edge of the end of the top strip.

Shows the line we are about to draw to keep the nubbies together and the tails together.
Line up the 45 degree line on the ruler with the edge of the top of the strip.
Use a pin to mark along the edge of the ruler to create a diagonal sewing line on the edge of the strip.
Image of the line when you pull the ruler away.

Step 5: Stitch Along the Line. Recenter the two edges of the strips as in Step 4. You can stich one at a time, or chain stitch them. If you chain stitch, you need to mark the end of all remaining strips. After sewing the first two strips together, but the end of the stop strip up to the sewing machine and line up the third strip in the same way. Stitch that second seam. Continue in this manner until all strips are sewn together. There are two free ends (start and end) when you finish.

Shows my ends chain stitched together.

Step 6: Cut chain stitching apart and trim off the triangles and nubs. Using a 1/4″ seam allowance trim the triangles off the end of each seam. Also trim off the little nubs by making them even with the edges of the strips.

Trim off the little nubbies and the triangle.
Cut chain stitching apart.

Step 7: Press the seams open. Then fold them back in half longways and press to set the crease again.

Step 8: Begin sewing the binding to the quilt at a 1/4″ seam allowance. Use a thread color that matches the quilting on the front of the quilt. At the middle bottom of the quilt, leaving an 8″ to 12″ tail on the binding, line the raw edge of the binding up with the raw edge of the back of the quilt. Stitch until you get to the corner of the quilt. Stop at a 1/4″ from the edge and stitch an a 45 degree angle to the corner of the quilt.

Step 9: Lay the “tail” of the binding back at a 45 degree angle. 

Step 10: Fold the tail back over the new little folded triangle you just created. Make sure the edge of the fold (the new crease) is lined up exactly on the edge of the quilt. It can help to clip in place.

Step 11: Turn the corner of the quilt to begin stitching from the edge using a 1/4″ seam allowance as before. Continue in this manner making your way back to the where you started. Stop stitching about 12″ from where you began.

Step 12: Trim the Ends to the Correct Length. After stopping 12″ away from where you began, take 2 stitches backward. Trim the ends so they overlap 2.5″. Do NOT twist the tails when you open them.

Stop sewing 12″ or so from where you began.
Trim one tail about 2″ from the edge of where you stopped stitching.


Overlap the two tails. Measure 2.5″ from the edge of the tail you just trimmed and trim the other tail. They need to overlap each other 2.5″ total.
Do NOT twist the tails. Simple open the left tail and lay right side up. Open the right tail with wrong side up. Again, no actual twisting, just open.


Step 13: Connect the Ends. Overlap the edges with RSTs as in step 3. Fold the quilt over to make it easier to line up the edges. Mark the tail end as you did in Step 4. A key difference is to make sure the overlapping “nubs” are an even 1.4″.

Fold the quilt over (purple area) to make it easier to maneuver the strips/tails.
Line up the 45 Degree mark on your ruler with the edge of the strip tail with the wrong side up.
Use the end of the ruler and make sure the nubs overlap 1/4″. This will create a closed binding strip that measures exactly the length of the quilt with no stretching or excess.
Pin in place and stitch on top the line.

Step 14: Trim the triangles and nubs off as above. The press the seam open. The fold the binding back over and press the crease at the half mark to make sure it is even.

Trim the triangles and nubs off.
Press the seam open. Close binding and press crease again.

Step 15: Stitch the rest of the binding down. Overlap just a little on either side of where you started and ended stitching the binding. Again keep the 1/4″ seam allowance.


Step 16: Press the binding back to make an even crease next to where you stitched it down. Press the corners out even to help with the mitered corner.

Step 17: Fold the Binding Over and Stitch it down. This is where the magic of machine binding happens. On the front of the quilt, there is a seam line for where you stitched the binding down. Fold the pressed crease of the binding edge over and line it up with this row of stitching. Beginning in the bottom middle of the quilt, begin stitching the binding down with an 1/8″ seam allowance. Stop a couple inches from a corner and leave the needle down. Left the presser foot so you have a little bit of movement to work with as you fold the mitered corner over.

Find the stitching on the front side of the quilt created by stitching the binding down. Should be 1/4″ from the edge of the quilt. (I used contrasting thread here so you can see it.) Line up the edge of the folded crease of the binding with this line of stitching just enough to “barely” cover the stitching.
Clip the binding in place and begin stitching the binding down from the front side of the quilt using an 1/8″ seam allowance. Use a longer stitch length like a 4.

Step 18: Turning the Corners for a good miter. When you get to the corner, fill on the back of the quilt for where the “bulk” of the fold is located. It will be on one side of the corner. Once you know which side the “bulk” is on, go back to the front of the quilt. Beginning on the side where the bulk is located, lay the binding flat and line it up with the stitching. Using a pin to make a nice crease, lay the other side of the binding over and clip in place. This will put the bulk of the front miter on the opposite side of the bulk from the back miter.

Back of the quilt. Find the bulk of the miter. In this image it is on the left.
Press the front side binding flat and line it up with the stitching beginning with the bulk side of the back miter.
Use a pin or sharp object to create a nice crease for folding the second side of the binding over the corner for a clean miter.
The two edges of crease in the binding should line up for a perfect 45 degree mitered corner. Clip in place.

Step 19: Stitch the Corner Down. Once you have clipped the corner, line up the binding again with the sewing machine. Begin stitching to the corner. Stop in the miter. You may need to make the stitches a little smaller just at the corner to hit the miter exactly. One you hit the miter, lift the presser foot and turn the quilt 90 degrees. Lower the presser foot and begin stitching again.

Begin stitching again using the 1/8″ seam top stitch. Stop in the miter.
Stop in the miter. Decrease stitch length if necessary to stop in the right place.
Lift the presser foot to turn the quilt 90 degrees. Lower presser foot.
Begin stitching again at 1/8″ after lowing the presser foot back down.

Step 20: Continue stitching until you get back to where you started. Back stitch or lock stitches at the end. The back of the quilt should look the same as the front with an 1/8″ seam in the binding if the crease edge was lined up with the stitches on the front.

Image of the back of the binding.

I hope you found this machine binding tutorial helpful! Until next time. Thanks for stopping by!


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