Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

Many years ago, Jeannie Ivis, a quilt shop owner in Colorado, showed me how to do quilt binding by machine. In 15 years, I have done all but three of my quilt bindings using this method. I love it because it’s neat, it’s fast, it’s sturdy and it comes close to looking like you stitched the binding by hand.

I was finishing up a UFO this week and decided to write a tutorial on what I call “mock hand binding by machine.” So that you don’t overlook the points that are critical, I’m going to use CAPS in some places, but I don’t mean to shout at you.

binding1 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

Place cutting mats end to end so you have a longer space for trimming the quilt before binding it.

I start off by trimming the backing and batting even with the quilt top. I cleared the junk off my cabinet and put two cutting mats end to end for this task.

binding002 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

Trimming everything up evengly

It helps if they match so they are the same thickness but when I took this picture, one of my matching mats was missing. (Messy sewing space.)

binding001 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

I sort the leftovers and put them away. Batting scraps are used for dusting at my house!

I’m left with batting and fabric scraps, which get sorted. Small batting pieces go into my dust rag bag. They work great for dusting and you just throw them away when you’re finished.

For some reason I can’t remember, I cut this binding 1.5″ wide instead of the usual 2.25″ wide, so this will be a single-fold binding. The mock-hand method works the same for double-fold binding and single-fold binding.

binding3 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

Join binding strips end to end using diagonal seams. The stubby ends are where you do NOT sew.

First we need to sew the binding strips together end to end with diagonal seams. Above you’ll see that I have put the strips right sides together. The line shows you where I’m going to sew. If you ever have trouble knowing which diagonal to sew across, you can refer back to this photo. I remember it by not sewing from the two short stubby ends across.

binding4 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

Press one raw edge under by a generous 1/4″.

Because this is a single-fold binding, the next step is to press under a generous 1/4″ on one raw edge of the entire length.

binding5 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

Sew the binding to the BACK of the quilt.

Here I’m ready to sew the binding to the BACK of the quilt. (This is different from the usual method where you sew the binding to the front of the quilt and then stitch it by hand on the back.) I use a WALKING FOOT to keep the layers feeding evenly through the machine. I set my stitch length to 2mm. Be sure to LEAVE A TAIL of eight to ten inches unsewn.

binding6 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

Place the pin 1/4″ from the edge as shown. Stop the stitching at the pin and backstitch before cutting the threads.

When you get about six inches from the corner, place a pin as shown above, 1/4″ away from the quilt edge that’s next to your torso. When you come to the pin, stop sewing and backstitch three or four stitches. End the stitching and cut the threads. I used dark thread in the sample below so you could see how it looks.

binding11 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

Next we’ll miter the corner.

binding7 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by MachinePosition the quilt as shown and fold the binding up and away from you, creating a 45° angle.

binding8 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by MachineNow fold the binding down toward yourself, creating a little triangular flap. The photo belows shows the flap more clearly. Pin the binding in place if you need to.

binding9 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by MachineNow back to the sewing machine. Start a little behind the quilt’s edge and sew with a quarter-inch seam allowance as before, backstitching after the first few stitches and then continuing on.

binding12 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

As you come to the remaining corners, treat them in the same way. Each corner will look like the photo above when it’s finished.

binding10 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by MachineWhen you reach the place where you started, stop sewing about 10″ from your first stitches. Leave a generous tail at this end too. Join the binding ends (my next how-to post will be about how to join the ends). Finish sewing the binding to the quilt back.

Now it’s time to set up your machine for the fun part.

  1. Fill a bobbin with regular cotton thread to match the quilt BACKING.
  2. Thread the top with INVISIBLE THREAD, whatever kind you prefer.
  3. Set the machine to a blind hem stitch (a blind hem stitch goes “straight, straight, zig, zag, straight, straight, zig, zag” etc.). Set the stitch width to 1.2mm and the stitch length to 1.0mm.

    blindhemstitch Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

    This is what the blind hem stitch looks like on my machine: straight, straight, zig, zag, etc.

  4. Put (or keep) the walking foot on your machine.
  5. Test sew on a scrap quilt sandwich (fabric, batting, fabric) to see how it looks, and adjust the tension if need be.

Now you’re ready to pull the binding to the front of the quilt and sew it down by machine. Start in the middle of one quilt side. Pull the binding around to the front of the quilt.

binding13 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

I could see that the binding was going to be mostly empty, so I turned under more than the original 1/4″ I had pressed under. I just did it as I went along.

In this example, it turned out that I needed to turn under more than the 1/4″ I had originally pressed. I just turned it under more generously as I went along.

 binding14 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

Sew the binding to the quilt front. The straight stitches should be on the quilt top. The zig zag stitch will take a tiny bite into the binding.

binding20 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

I’ve Photoshopped the photo above so you can see where the stitches are supposed to go on the quilt front.  Of course they’re much smaller in real life.

binding15 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine
When you come to a corner, miter it by folding as shown above. It usually wants to fold into a miter because of the way you turned the corners earlier. Start sewing at the inside corner and sew a few stitches in place to secure, then continue along the side, pulling the binding to the front as you go.

When you get to the place where you started, change to a straight stitch and a stitch length of zero. Stitch in place for a few stitches to secure, cut the threads and you’re finished.

back1 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

Mock hand quilt binding as seen from the front of the quilt

Above is what it looks like on the front of the quilt.

front1 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

Stitching as seen from the back of the quilt

And this is how it looks from the back of the quilt. I used darker thread so you could see it, but you should use thread to match the quilt back as mentioned earlier, so it will blend right in.

binding 22 Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

Diane’s finished Infinity staff challenge quilt from 2011. See the Jan/Feb ’12 Quiltmaker for details.

Here’s my finished UFO. It was my staff challenge from 2011, shown in the Jan/Feb ’12 issue of Quiltmaker.

QMMS 100054 EAPEN V Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

The Infinity block by Victoria Eapen for Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume 2

It uses a block called Infinity from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume 2. The block design is by Victoria Eapen.

About Diane Harris

I'm Interactive Editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I've been writing pattern instructions and product reviews, and doing a host of other tasks necessary to help produce a national pattern magazine. Now I work remotely from rural Nebraska to generate some of our online content. I manage the QM Scrap Squad, our blog tours and our Quilt-Alongs. I have one of the best jobs in the world.
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37 Responses to Mock Hand Quilt Binding by Machine

  1. its impressive blog. amazing information and awesome images collection.thanks for sharing.

  2. CindyD says:

    There is also a way to machine bind your quilt which is what I have been using on some quilts. It produces a binding that looks like piping on the front. It really looks awesome!

    http://www.52quilts.com/2012/05/tuesday-tutorial-susies-magic-binding.html

  3. Nancy Josey says:

    Thanks for the very precise & clear explanation. I usually hand finish the binding, but have several quilts to complete prior to the holidays, so I will definitely try this.

  4. Pingback: QM How-To: Join the Ends of Binding | Quilty Pleasures Blog

  5. KarenVR says:

    This is so helpful to me! Thank you so much! I am just starting out as a quilter, so have tried macine stitching one in place on a baby quilt and did a poor job. Then I made a project tote and hand sewed the back, and it looks good but was time consuming. I’d like to be able to choose between machine sewing or hand sewing and this seems very do-able!

  6. Sheryl Mastin says:

    I am going to suggest your site to my quilting students. You presented your tutorial in a clear and easily understood way. Your pictures are clear and large enough to really show case each step. Thank You for sharing this with all of us.

  7. Donna Beach says:

    Thanks for showing how-to.

  8. Leann Stites says:

    I just started making quilts in 2009 but have sewn since I was 12. I just started sewing my binding on by machine from the beginning. I don’t like hand sewing (I’m not good at it) and I wanted my binding to last as long as the quilt. It just made more sense to me to sew it on this way.

  9. Cindy says:

    Thank you for the clear pictures and the stitch length. I have tried this technique before, but it always looks messy! I will try again with your instructions.

  10. Lacey Irish says:

    Wish I had seen this method a few years ago! Definitely will give it a try on
    several charity quilts. Thanks for an easy to follow tutorial.

    Lacey Irish

  11. Peggy says:

    I am definitely going to give this a try. My hand sewing is not up to par. I always worry that my hand stitched binding will not hold up to all the wash and wear these quilts live through. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked if I was “sure they could really sleep with their quilt” and not ruin it! Quilts are made to wrap around the people we love, get carried to the couch on a cold night for a game. They should hold up to this and more…..and this machine binding will help my cause! Thanks for the tutorial

  12. Colette says:

    Okay, I think I’ll have to give this a whirl. While I actually love to hand bind, this will certainly save the time on those charity quilts.

  13. Sue Proffitt says:

    The instructions are very clear. I can’t wait to try this on my next quilt.

  14. Claudia says:

    Any ideas for making a tedious job easier are welcome.

    One suggestion I would offer is to get a 36″ or 48″ T-square to use when you straighten the edge of a quilt. My work table is a door on saw horses at waist height, and it is a lot easier to manage one long straight edge that slips over the edge of the table or cutting mat when you are trimming the edge of a quilt before binding.

  15. Caroline Barton says:

    This is so helpful. I have 2 quilts ready to bind and for some reason have not wanted to finish them because I did not want to hand sew the binding, especially quilts that are for use (although one is a wall hanging). This looks so good. Thank you. I look forward to your tutorial of sewing the two binding ends together.

  16. Great tutorial. Have tried something similar to this, but this looks better ! Can’t wait to try it.

  17. Jeannie Rasmussen says:

    Great tutorial, Diane! I’ve never considered using invisible thread and a hem stitch but sure will next time!

  18. Sara Butterfield says:

    What a great idea. I’m going to try this next time I go to binding. Yea Yea no more hand stitiching.

  19. Cynthia says:

    I haven’t try this one yet. Now that I have seen how it is done I will have a go the next time I’m binding. Thank you.

  20. barbara cullum says:

    i love this binding ,its so much easier.

  21. Sara Dinis says:

    Yes I am a little confused about the corners too on the front, wish this had been in video form, so I could see what you are talking about..

  22. Karla Caldwell says:

    Thanks so much for this all machine sewed binding tute. I just have one question for clarification. I’m wondering what seam allowance you’re using for sewing the binding down to the quilt back? It appears that the edge of your walking foot is not aligned with the binding strip as mine usually is, giving me a 3/8″ seam allowance. Are you using 1/4″ seam allowance, or?

  23. Really good instructions. It is the way I do most of my quilts except for the invisible thread. Your job sounds like fun.

  24. Jeanne Stiffler says:

    love this method, will definitely be trying it on next item I am working on.

  25. Barb Johnson says:

    I have to admit to being a little confused about the part when you reach the corner when you are stitching the binding down on the front. It says “Start sewing at the inside corner and sew a few stitches in place to secure.” But earlier, it says to start sewing the binding down in the middle of one side. I’m guessing that you need to stop sewing at the corner to fold the miter before you turn the corner. But then I thought that it meant that you need to cut the thread there and start over? If so, why not just start at the corner instead of starting in the middle? Am I over-thinking this?

  26. Penny says:

    Awesome. I’ve tried this before, but not quite like this. Thanks for the help. I will try your way next time. Looks good.

  27. Susan Paxton says:

    Thanks so much for the tutorial…I hate hand sewing but will definitely use this method from now on. And your corners look superb!!

  28. Roxannne Simonds says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! Might give this a try. I always seem to have trouble with the invisible treads feeding through my machine. Some brands work better than others. Don’t know why.

  29. Susan S. Bryant says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. I learned something new–even if I hand stitch the binding, I learned how to close up the gap in the mitered corner. I have always mitered my corners, but I always have a gap that I have to sew shut. Watching your tutorial, I learned that I sew from the end, I don’t come in and start at the miter. Thanks again.

    Oh, I’m also going to try this mock hand binding method on the quilt I’m doing now.

  30. Jane Mckay says:

    I have finished binding similarly for years, but need to go to the invisible thread hem stitch as you showed. I have used numerous decorative stitches, which are meant to show on my bindings on the front, but there are times when you really want the quilt to look “hand finished”. Thanks for the tutorial.

  31. Vidya says:

    Thank you so much for sharing !! I didn’t realize I could use the blind hem stitch so effectively….
    Now I’m going to try this on my current project.

  32. Leah says:

    Very interesting! I usually finish bindings by hand: I like the look, and I enjoy the process. When I do finish by machine, I’m often disappointed by the results, because I don’t feel that my work is precise or consistent enough. This looks like it might produce a much neater finish than the machine method I’ve used before. I will be trying this technique on a baby quilt very soon. Thanks!

    Also? The pennant fabrics used in the borders and on the back of this quilt are adorable!

  33. Jocelyn says:

    This looks great! I will have to try it.

  34. Nancy M says:

    Years ago a teacher at a quilt store showed me how to do the back to front binding because carpal tunnel kept me for hand sewing the bindings. I have topstitched the bindings from the front using a running stitch on the machine. I will have to try this blind hem stitch. Thanks for the post.

  35. Helen Bowes says:

    Great method! I am just finishing a quilt for my grandson and will use his method to finish the quilt. Many Thanks Diane!

  36. Sandi Colwell says:

    I will be giving this a try! Thanks for the nice tutorial.

  37. Lauren aka Giddy99 says:

    That’s neat, thanks for sharing! I love to hand-bind, but sometimes we don’t have the luxury of that amount of time. :)

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