For most of my art quilts, I use a facing instead of a binding. Facing is a technique borrowed from garment sewing. Using a facing on a quilt instead of a binding gives it a nice clean edge which is an attractive finish for quilts that belong on the wall. This is what a facing looks like from the back.
And this is what a faced quilt looks like from the front. If you want to read my tutorial about how to make a quilt facing, you can by clinking here.
I finish bed quilts and Fleece Flannel Blankets with an All Machine Stitched Binding. I have developed this binding technique over many years. It is perfectly fine to machine stitch your binding to the front of your quilt and then hand sew to the back of your quilt, but my preference is to use my sewing machine for both sides. I like the clean sturdy look of an All Machine Stitched Binding. Here is how I do it.
I am going to use a Fleece Flannel Blanket that I just finished, but you can use this binding technique on quilts, oven mitts, Fleece Flannel blankets REALLY any project that needs a binding. And if you want to make the Fleece Flannel Blanket to practice making an All Machine Binding you can by clicking here.
For the purposes of this tutorial the fleece (or in this case Minky) side of the blanket is the BACKSIDE. The flannel side is the FRONT side. I will also be referring to this blanket as a quilt.
Binding can be an intimidating step in the quilt making process, and it doesn’t help that it is what stands between you and an a finished project. I hope this tutorial clearly walks you through all the steps.
The first step is to create a binding. You can use your own method or follow my tutorial here for creating a bias cut twirly stripe binding. I use a 2 1/4″ wide binding.
I attach the binding to the BACK of my quilt using my walking foot. I always use a thread that blends. I like Aurifil 50wt in color #2600. This is also the thread I use for piecing. I want a nice 1/4” seam that fills my binding.
To do this, I line up the edge of my quilt just inside the edge of my walking foot. Test this with your machine and your walking foot. You may need to reposition things to get an accurate 1/4” seam.
I start in the middle of one side of my quilt. I leave a tail of binding UNATTACHED.
I stitch along until I get close to a corner. When I am close, I slide a straight pin into the corner at a 45% angle. This is a new trick I just discovered last week. Isn’t that crazy? That pin really helps you get a nice 45% angle of stitching in your corners.
When I get to that straight pin, I stitch off the quilt at a 45% angle.
I then fold the fabric of the binding so that it looks like this.
Then I fold it again. Be patience. It might take a few tries to get it right.
I put the folded edge of the quilt binding back under my walking foot and continue stitching.
When you get to any dog ears, trim them. You want as little bulk as possible in your binding.
I stitch my way around the quilt until I get to my binding tail. I stop when I have about a fifteen inch opening.
I take my quilt to the cutting table. I OPEN my binding. When I first learned how to do this method of all machine binding, I would consistently cut the binding closed. This does not work.
Using the 45% angle on one of my rulers (I love my 4” x 16” ruler), I cut the binding at a 45% angle.
I then rest it on the edge of my quilt as if I were going to sew it down.
I nestle the other end of the binding into the freshly cut end.
Using my favorite fabric marking devise I MARK that line on both sides of my UNCUT binding.
I open this end of the binding.
I then take my ruler and cut 1/2”–THIS IS IMPORTANT–from my pencil line. I double check my work to make sure my ruler is 1/2″ from the pencil mark before I cut.
I pin these two 45% angles together.
I stitch them together using my 1/4″ foot.
I iron the seam open to reduce bulk.
I smooth the binding and pin it to the edge of the quilt. I stitch this final bit down.
The beauty of this method is that no one knows where your binding starts or stops. I love it.No one likes this next step, but it is crucial for an All Machine Stitched Binding. Using my sturdiest pins, I pin the binding to the top of my quilt all the way around.
When you get to the corners carefully fold and pin them.
Now I am ready for the final round of stitching.
I select a thread that will blend in on the back but also works well on the front. In this case, I stuck with the light grey Aurifil thread. I use my number eight foot which is a Jeans Stitch foot instead of a walking foot. This foot is built to stitch through thick layers of fabric and with the single small needle hole the needle is limited in where it can move. I have better visibility with this foot than my walking foot. Most machines have a foot similar to this. If you don’t have this foot, use your walking foot.
As you remove the pins, use your awl to control your binding.
You want your stitch to be at the very edge of the binding AND you want it to consistently stay there. You can see here that I am adjusting the binding with my left index finger, while using the awl to make sure the stitch goes where I want it to.
When you get to a corner remove the pin and secure the corner with your awl.
Stitch until you have secured the corner. Then take a few stitches forward and back.
With your needle in the down position turn your quilt. Take a few stitches forward and back. And then proceed to stitch forward.
Work your way around the quilt in this manner. Before you know it, you will have stitched the binding down.
Take a moment to admire your work.
With practice the front of the binding will look like this.
And the back will look like this.
If you try this tutorial out and have questions or comments, please post them here.
If you want to make your own Fleece Flannel Blanket you can by visiting this blog post.
Pingback: Fleece Flannel Blankets | Maria Shell
Wow, your first quilt looks amazing. Thanks for a great tutorial!
Thank you Sonia!
Do you have trouble with the flannel or fleece making a linty mess all over your machine, your cutting table etc??? Is the minky slippery? I read your Fleeced Flannel Tutorial and wondered if you do anything about “quilting them” to anchor the 2 layers together?
The fleece and flannel aren’t too bad. The minky can be messy to cut but okay to sew. I do not quilt the fleece/minky to the flannel. All three of these textiles have a lot of tooth and they grab onto each other. That said, mink and fleece look GREAT quilted, but they are wily under the sewing machine. Thank you Mary for asking.
how wide a binding are you using?
Good question! I cut my bindings to be 2 1/4″ wide. I will add this info to the post. Thank you Sue!
Maria, do you ever use a serger and what are you thoughts on one. This was a fabulous tutorial, I’m always a little frustrated with bindings.
I have a serger, but I have never used it. It is on the list of things that is going to happen this year. Like making jeans and t-shirts, I am intimidated, but going to try and push past that and just do it. I’m glad you liked the bindings post!
The way you connect the beginning and ending of your binding is great. I’ve seen a number of ways to do this, and your way is one of the less complicated. I may have to give it a try! — C
Thank you! When I first learned how to do this, I felt like the clouds had parted my quilting life. It really does produce a beautiful edge.
Will the quilt pucker, from just stitching around the quilt?
You do have to watch it and use your fingers and/or a stilletto to control the fabric as you go around the quilt. I also stitch slowly so that I have maximum control. The first time you do it, it will feel awkward, but if you keep at it, you will get the hang of it.
Good instructions. I googled binding fleece as a sanity check. Binding cans be intimidating at the corners and closure. Good explanation. You do beautiful craftsmanship! Best regards from Louisville, Kentucky
I aspire to honor our traditon with fine craftsmanship! I am glad you enjoyed the binding tutorial! Thank you!