A Day of Binding

Tuesday morning my plan was to sew the binding on four tops.  The plan was to be done by noon.  As most always happens around here, things didn’t go according to plan.  I always almost always make the binding as soon as I finish the top.  It goes into this basket and it’s so nice to have it all done when I’m ready to use it.  I usually trim the quilts as soon as I take them off the longarm too.

I knew I had the four tops to bind but ended up seeing two more that needed binding.  Of the six quilts, only two were trimmed and only two had the binding already made!  That slowed me down!  I made the binding for the remaining four tops, as well as a fifth top that will use the same binding but the top isn’t made.  Trimmed all the quilts and got the binding sewn on three of them before lunch.  Went to a haircut appointment, came home and had a friend drop by and visit and managed to get the remaining three bound just in time to start dinner.


This is the stack of quilts with the binding on, waiting for the handwork.  That’s 22 quilts!  I tried binding one by machine the other day.  Ughh . . I don’t think it looked very good.  It will take me lots of practice to be pleased with doing them by machine.  I’m not giving up but for these quilts, they’ll probably all get done by hand.  Some are gifts; some will be used in my trunk show; some are for workshops . . most will be seen up close and personal by lots of quilters.  Nothing wrong with doing the binding all by machine . . if it looks good.  Mine doesn’t look good . . yet.



    • 1.1


      I’ve seen it done where it looked fantastic but mine did not look fantastic. Maybe I’ll keep practicing. Thanks for the encouragement.

  1. 2


    Judy, on machine binding- I always hand bound until I developed arthritis in my hands and decided it was time to try the machine route. Of course, no success at first, hated the look until I became determined to do it anyway. You know, after just a few tries it began to look pretty good and now I love the look! With a nice decorative stitch on your machine, you’ve got a lovely finished quilt in no time.

    : )

  2. 3

    peg says

    One of my favorite parts of quilting is the hand sewing of the binding. Kind of a little relaxation after all the drama of picking a design, selecting the fabric (ok that’s my #1 fav part), etc. Too bad we aren’t neighbors, I would gladly do all your bindings in trade for some machine quilting. You continue to amaze me with your completion rate. I on the other hand am a few slow quilter, I get distracted easily.
    Love your work and your blog.

    • 3.1

      Kathy C says

      I also LOVE doing the hand sewing part. It gives me time to REALLY look at (and enjoy) the quilt I will soon be giving away.

  3. 4

    becky R says

    I too used to love sewing the binding by hand but my time is very limited now. It takes me no time to sew it all by the machine now. And it looks darn good and have received lots of compliments. It does take some practice. Sometimes I edge stitch the binding, sometimes I stitch in the ditch for the final stitching. I usually sew it first to the back and then bring it forward so that the final stitching is done on the right side. When stitching in the ditch then I sew to the front side first so the stitch in the ditch catches the lose binding on the back. I will sew about 5 inches or so on the quilt and then evaluate how it looks and make adjustments if needed. Much easier to remove a few inches than to have to remove the whole thing.
    So give it a try.

  4. 5


    I always hand stitch mine — I’ve never seen a machine stitched binding that looks as good as a hand stitched one although I’ve heard lots of people say how good they are…..

    I’ve got a stack of 7 or 8 here that need binding.

    • 5.1

      Lydia says

      I never hand-stitch my bindings. I won’t say mine look “as good as” a hand-stitched binding, but even that’s a variable thing. Some people I’ve known have used great honking big whip stitches on the back and yes, I would assert that my neatly finished machine decorative stitched binding looks BETTER than that. But to compare them to a good blindstitched binding, well, then it’s merely a matter of taste. I don’t mind the stitching showing, and as I said I use a nice stitch, and choose my thread to either complement the quilt or to be unobtrusive. So, I like the look of them well enough, and I so DO NOT enjoy hand work, so that’s my solution. But like everything else, there’s more than one way, and they’re all “right” if they work for the individual 😉

  5. 6

    Marla says

    I just wish I could hand stitch binding faster. I don’t mind doing it but it just takes so darn long. I don’t know if I am just anal about it or what.

  6. 7


    I bought an attachment for my Viking DSM to help with sewing bindings on by machine. Haven’t tried it yet but I’m determined to learn. With a new grandson, I want to churn out quilts for him. He’s only 6 weeks old so I have some time. 🙂

  7. 8


    You need a binding fairy. My friend Jennie has one. Her mother loves to sit and do the handwork on bindings in the evenings while she spends time with her significant other in front of the TV. I only have three quilts in my binding pile and that seems daunting to me. Don’t know what I’d do with a pile like yours. I do some bindings by machine, especially those quilts I know will get a lot of use and washing.

    • 8.1

      Sandy says

      The handsewing of the binding to the back of the quilt is one of my favorite jobs. I would offer to be your binding fairy if we lived closer.

      You get so much done in a day. Making the binding for 4 quilts would have been a day’s work for me. lol

      Can’t wait to see all the quilts you finish.

  8. 9

    Gwynette says

    After reading Linda’s comment, I realized my daughter has a ‘binding fairy’ also and it’s ME!!! I am also her quilter and since I have to mail the quilts back to her, I hate for her to open the box and find that she still has to do hand stitching before she has a finished product. So, I go ahead and do it for her… what are Mother’s for, anyway??? We have a lady at guild that teaches a class on machine binding and for the life of me, I cannot say it looks as good as hand stitched binding. If I’m going to all the trouble of making a quilt ~~~~~ I’m hand stitching the binding!!!!

  9. 10


    Ive never seen a machine binding look good….. after all the fuss of choosing color. presise stitching.. matching points.. keeping things square.. borders flat.. ectect… and the $ for all the gadgets to get that far… I think hand done binding is a finishing touch,……… dont mess it up on the last step, after ALL that work !

    sit outside with a cool drink.. pretty thimble…. freinds.. hubby. critters.. watch the sun set. hear a birdy ( or chicken)….. mellow out with some hand work……

  10. 11


    Finding time to handsew the back of the binding on quilts is always a problem for me. After spending years (maybe even a couple of decades) admiring piped binding, I purchased Ricky Tims’ quilting and binding video. I do a variation of his method so that the stitching on the front is barely visible between the piping and the binding. Still takes a while to do the binding, but *much* less time than hand-sewing the binding on the back.

  11. 12


    The one and only quilt that I bound by machine was terrible. I unpicked the 2 sides and smartie pants me used black thread with black binding. It took forever to unsew. I’ll never sew binding on by machine again. When you do it by hand it looks so beautiful.

    • 12.1


      That’s about the same luck I’ve had with binding by machine, though I’ve seen some really gorgeous machine binding.

  12. 13


    This is an comment for the Tuesday Borders challenge. I am VERY challenged about borders, but I am currently doing a simple Rail Fence and my plan is to make enough blocks so that I DON’T NEED BORDERS. Maybe I’m going to make the outer row of blocks be darker, as a Faux Border, not sure. Maybe/probably the binding will be a little wider than usual and in a contrasting color.

    Anyway, I have recently seen a number of quilts that just go to the edge and STOP. I like the look, and I think I will like not being delayed by all the Border Decisions.

    Just another suggestion for anyone’s list of “How to Deal With the Borders.”

  13. 15


    About 2 years ago, I saw a video on a new bi-level foot for my Pfaff. I bought it and wow, you wouldn’t believe how this foot does a beautiful binding. There is still lots of prep work, but my corners are fantastic. I haven’t hand done a binding since and I’m ok with that!

  14. 16


    I love the look of a binding done by hand. However, my hands are in such shape that I can’t do them. I machine bind all my quilts now. I don’t think it looks as good, but the alternative is no binding so no finishes.

  15. 17

    Becky I says

    Keep trying and you will be able to do machine binding. Remember when you started longarming? Remember trying to make that machine go where you wanted it to go? Now longarming is almost automatic and that binding too, will become automatic with practice. Remember, P P P (practice, practice, practice)

  16. 18


    I, too,can’t do machine binding work that looks very good……but, luckily, I love doing the handwork on the binding. I would be another neighbor (if I lived closely enough) who would trade “jobs” and do YOUR binding if you would do some of MY quilting!

  17. 19

    Marilyn says

    I only bind by machine because I know that the binding holds up better with the many washes my quilts will get. Of the many quilts I have around, those that have had the bindings sewn on by hand have also had to be repaired more often than those that had the binding sewn on by machine. Maybe if I was going to enter a quilt in a show, I’d try hand sewing, but since I think quilts are for using, not just looking at, I’d rather go with utility than beauty any day. I think with practice, you could get pretty good. Your first quilt looks nothing like the quilts you make now. Look how far you have come with piecing and quilting and every other skill you have. Practice, practice, practice.

  18. 20


    I am a binding fairy! It is one of my favorite things to do. I wish I lived closer so I could help you with your quilts. I hand bind all my own quilts, my best friend’s quilts (she does all my machine quilting for me) and my other friend, Amy (she machine quilts all the overflow from my best friend). I’m a lucky fairy!

  19. 21


    Send them all to me, I love hand sewing the bindings down! It’s also something I can do when I’m with other people, whereas the piecing and quilting are done alone.

  20. 22


    What a pity I live so far away. I love the hand sewing part of the binding and often offer to do it for people. I usually do it at night in front of the telly – at least that way I stay awake.

  21. 23


    I love this photograph of the piles of quilts…makes me feel very happy!
    I have only done one quilt with all machine binding, and didn’t like it, so I’ve done all hand binding since then. Good luck with the hand stitching! Enjoy!

  22. 24


    I have often machine bound my quilts but it depends on the complexity of the quilt design and the detail in the fabric I am using for the binding. I generally like a scrappy binding made of up lots of different prints from the quilt top, and machine sewing doesn’t seem to take away from that. I attach the binding to the back and bring to the front, sewing it down with a 3-step zigzag decorative stitch and paying a lot of attention to the corners. However, if I am using a solid binding or tone on tone, hand sewing seems best. It just depends on what the project is, how often it will be washed, and if the machine sewing will stand out a lot if I don’t want it to. Also, TIME!! is a factor. I plan on machine sewing a binding on a table runner I have to have finished by tomorrow, lol……

  23. 26

    Kathryn Stewart says

    Binding has not been my favorite part of making a quilt, but I have discovered Sharon Schamber’s method of binding on her website and youtube…. It has changed my life regarding binding… with the final stitching done either by hand or by machine… I encourage all quilters to check it out…. SharonSchambernetwork.com… now I’m excited about finishing some quilts that have been waiting to be bound!