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When I began quilting, I learned to make bias binding and to finish by hand. Now, my preferred method is to attach the binding completely by machine. Most often, by the time I'm at the binding stage I'm just ready to be done and I really appreciate the speed of this method.

Start by creating your double-fold binding strips, in your desired width. Your binding should be about 10" longer than the perimeter of your quilt. I originally used a 2 1/2" wide binding, then 2 1/4" wide before I settled on 2" as my default. I prefer to  cut my  binding strips on the bias for a couple reasons. I think it's easier to work with. The bias cut produces binding that has a little give to it. I also think it wears better in the long run for quilts that are going to be used and washed regularly. The give in the bias allows the fibers of the binding to move instead of wear and fray. If your quilt has curved edges, the bias binding will allow you to more easily follow the curve as well. (Note: If you prefer straight grain binding made from width of fabric strips, you can still machine bind!) I recommend that binding strips be connected using diagonal seams to avoid bulk created by straight seams.


After quilting and trimming your quilt (the white stippled section of diagram is the quilt, the grey is the table), begin by stitching your binding to the edge of the back of your quilt. Use your 1/4" foot and normal stitch length and start in the middle of an edge of your quilt. Leave about 10" of binding loose before you start sewing. I use Aurifil 50 wt. for attaching my binding. Align the raw edge of your binding strip to the edge of the trimmed quilt. Attach binding to the first side of your quilt. Stop 1/4" from the corner of the quilt and backstitch. (The arrow in the diagram shows where the corner of the quilt is.)


Fold the binding at a 45 degree angle. The fold should line up with the edge of your stitching and the corner of the quilt. (The first diagram shows fold line in red. The second diagram shows binding folded on this line.)


Then fold the binding back along the first edge of the quilt so the raw edge of the binding is along the second side of the quilt. Be sure that this second fold goes just past the edge of the quilt. I like to use a wonder clip (see in photo below) to hold that folded edge while I begin sewing the next edge.


Starting at the edge of side two, stitch using your 1/4" foot and normal stitch length. Continue with this method until you have turned all four corners.


When you are about 12-18" from your starting point, backstitch and trim threads. Lay your quilt flat with the loose ends of the binding strips overlapping along the edge of the quilt. Cut your ends of your binding strips so that they overlap by the width of a strip (shown in green above). My ends overlap 2". (Note: Remember that if your binding strips are 2 1/2" wide you should have a 2 1/2" overlap.) I find it helpful to cut off a small chunk of binding from the end of the strip and use it as a guide to measure this width to trim the ends of the binding.


Unfold the binding and pin the ends right sides together at a right angle and mark a 45-dgree line on the unfolded, wrong side of one end of the binding (shown in red on the diagram). Check to be sure that binding will lay flat without any twists when this seam is sewn. Sew on the line with a reduced stitch length. Trim off excess fabric, 1/4" from stitching line. Finger press seam open, then fold binding to lay flat and press with an iron. Stitch remaining edge of binding to quilt.


Press binding away from quilt. Press each edge close to corners, but do not press the corners.


This is what the self-mitered corner looks like on the bottom of the quilt.


For the second pass around the quilt I switch to my standard clear-view foot and I like to position my needle to the far left so the foot is level on the binding. Increase stitch length to 3.0 - 3.5. I start by using just a few wonder clips (you could also use pins) to hold the binding in place on the top of the quilt. I  don't clip/pin the entire perimeter as I prefer to adjust the binding as I stitch and use a stiletto to move and guide the binding layer as it feeds into the machine. If you don't have a stiletto, a long, heavy duty straight pin, like the Clover Flower Head Pins, works well for me.


With the binding pulled taut over the edge of the quilt, stitch 1/16" to 1/8" from the folded edge of the binding. Your stitching will be visible on the back of the quilt. The width of your binding strips and where your stitching falls in this step will determine how far away from your binding edge the stitching will be on the back. This part is a bit of an art. Use a little trial and error to find a look that you're happy with on front and back. See my finished example in the last photo below.


As you approach the corner, you'll have to prepare the binding. I usually do this when the corner makes it onto my sewing table, about 6" from the needle.


Start by folding up the bottom edge, then fold the right edge of the binding over the top. I use a straight pin to hold the first fold in place along the right edge of the binding so that when I fold over the right side the seam meets at a 45 degree angle.


Once you're happy with where the corner seam falls, pin the binding in place. (I prefer pins to clips here because I can sew really close to the pin before needing to remove it.)


As I approach the corner, I stitch right up to the pin before removing it.


Once I remove the pin, I use a stiletto or flower head pin to guide the fabric. Stop in the needle down position one stitch past the corner of the seam.


Rotate the quilt and continue on the second side, removing the last pin after a stitch or two (and without sewing over it). You should be able to continue around the entire perimeter of the quilt without breaking thread. I backstitch once I get to where I started.


Tada! Here's the top view of the finished binding. (Adorable Ninja fabric by Elishka Jepson.)


Here's a view of both sides of the finished binding. The rainbow striped fabric is the backing. You can see the line of stitching visible on the backing fabric from attaching the binding.

Please don't hesitate to ask any questions or let me know where you wish there was another photo or diagram.


If you want to see the full view of the quilts used in this tutorial, check out my Purple Ninja Quilt, Wizard of Oz Baby Quilt, Caterpillar Fizz, and Racoon Envelope Mini.


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This tutorial was shared as part of the 2017 Back to School Blog Hop for Sewists with Sam Hunter. Below are links to the tutorials by the other participants.

Day 1 – August 15 – Sam Hunter: How to spray baste a BIG quilt

Day 2 – August 16 – Mandy Leins: Thread Dread: removing stray bits after quilting

Day 3 – August 17 – Nancy Stovall: Batting Choices - The Sweet Creamy Filling

Day 4 – August 18 – Ebony Love: 7 Indispensable feet for your sewing machine

Day 5 – August 19 – Michelle Freedman: Machine throat plates

Day 6 – August 20 – Teresa Coates: What's What: Top-stitching, Edge-stitching, Under-stitching

Day 7 – August 21 – Kelly Cole: Getting your Sew-Jo Back

Day 8 – August 22 – Megan Dougherty: Choose to Fuse: tips for working with fusibles for applique

Day 9 – August 23 – Kim Lapacek: Tricks to being productive while hauling your kids around

Day 10 – August 24 – Yvonne Fuchs: Circuitboard quilting on Domestic and Longarm Machines

Day 11 – August 25 – Sandi Hazlewood: Chain Piecing Quilt Blocks Tips

Day 12 – August 26 – Juliet van der Heijden: Teaching a Child to Paper Piece

Day 13 – August 27 – Maddie Kertay: How to Fold Fabric for Versatile Storage

Day 14 – August 28 – Cath Hall: Working with Lawn Fabric

Day 15 – August 29 – Tracy Mooney: Tips for the Perfect Seam

Day 16 – August 30 – Teri Lucas: How to Bury Thread

Day 17 – August 31 – Debby Brown: Securing Machine Quilting Knots

Day 18 – September 1 – Flaun Cline: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 1)

Day 19 – September 2 – Jessica Darling: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 2)

Day 20 – September 3 – Trish Frankland: A bigger blade really IS better?!

Day 21 – September 4 – Robin Koehler: Tips on how to travel with handwork

Day 22 – September 5 – Jane Davidson: How to make scrappy HSTs

Day 23 – September 6 – Linda Pearl: Low cost tips for organizing your sewing room

Day 24 – September 7 – Christa Watson – Top 10 tips for quilting on a domestic machine

Day 25 – September 8 – Sarah Nunes: To Starch or Not to Starch

Day 26 – September 9 – Suzy Webster: Testing fabric for bleeding

Day 27 – September 10 – Sarah Goer: Machine bind your quilts like a pro – You are here!

Day 28 – September 11 – Vanda Chittenden: Beginner paper-piecing tips

Day 29 – September 12 – Cheryl Sleboda: Needle threading tips

Day 30 – September 13 – Kim Niedzwiecki – Different thread weights and when to use them

Day 31 – September 14 – Sandra Healy: Conquer Your Fear of Machine Appliqué

Day 32 – September 15 – Sandra Starley: Tips for Collecting Antique Quilts


I've linked up to Tips and Tutorials Festival.






















Inspired by a quilt that my friend Mary shared with me from Pinterest, I decided to design an Ombré HST quilt mathematically. This was the result.

I chose to use a gradient of eight different values, numbered 1-8 from lightest to darkest. I began by drawing a 7 by 9 rectangle in my graph notebook and randomly adding diagonal lines in each square. 63 squares meant 126 triangles, so dividing that by 8 different values, there should be 15.75 triangles of each value. I used six of my values 16 times each, and two of them 15 times each, filling in the triangles somewhat randomly while using the lower numbers more frequently at the top of the quilt and the higher numbers more frequently at the bottom of the quilt. The last numbers I filled in were 4 and 5.

Knowing that it would be easiest to make HSTs two at a time, I counted up my pairings and found that seventeen combinations were used an odd number of times (meaning that two at a time HSTs would not be very efficient). Seventeen was the perfect number of squares to add one extra row and one extra column to my design, so my design became 10 rows of 8 HSTs. My final adjustment was to make sure that I had used each value an equal number of times. Then I converted my numbers to the graphic above.

Make Your Own Quilt

This design can be made by choosing eight solids (or blenders or prints if you wish) in a variety of values. Tip: Use the black and white option on your camera phone to view the values of your fabrics; this way you can ensure contrast and verify that you have a range of values. Cut out ten squares of each of the eight fabrics. Choose your finished size of HSTs and cut the squares one inch larger. Create two at a time HSTs and trim to 1/2" larger than your finished size. Want a baby quilt? Use a fat quarter of each fabric*. Cut 5" squares and trim HSTs to 4 1/2" for a 32" x 40" finished quilt. Want a throw quilt? Use a half yard of each fabric. Cut 8" squares and trim HSTs to 7 1/2" for a 56" x 70" finished quilt. (Scroll to the bottom of this post for a calculator to make any size quilt.) Use the list below for cutting and piecing and the diagram that follows for block placement to create your version of my design. Or go random and use your design wall to audition the layout of your design. Have fun!

(*One option for creating this quilt in a baby quilt size is to choose a Kona fat quarter bundle. I like these color options: Lush Lagoon, Sky Gazer, Powder Room, and Lavender Fields. You could  use the extra fat quarters as part of the backing.)

Label swatches of your fabrics #1-8, in order by value, lightest to darkest. Cut ten squares from each of your eight fabrics. Make the following 80 HSTs.

using 1 square of each value, create 2 HSTs (24 total from this section)
1-5 (example, use one value 1 square and one value 5 square to make 2 HSTs)

using 2 squares of each value, create 4 HSTs (32 total from this section)
1-2 (example, use two value 1 squares and two value 2 square to make 4 HSTs)

using 3 squares of each value, create 6 HSTs (24 total from this section)
1-4 (example, use three value 1 squares and three value 4 squares to make 6 HSTs)

Like it in grey? Try these Kona solids: (1) Silver, (2) Ash, (3) Iron, (4) Pewter, (5) Steel, (6) Coal, (7) Charcoal, (8) Black.

Make Your Version Any Size
Use the handy slider below to choose what size you'll cut your initial squares. Trim to the size indicated for a finished quilt in the indicated size.

Cut 4" squares. Trim HSTs to 3.5" squares.

Finished quilt will be 24.5" by 30.5”. Finished blocks will be 3" squares.

My February 8th newsletter has four great palettes to use with this pattern.

I'm linking up to:
Tips and Tutorials Tuesday
Linky Tuesday
Tips and Tutorials Festival







I'm participating in the Mini Charm Challenge, organized by Kylie (@sewkylie on Instagram). Welcome to my tutorial for the Zig Zag Placemat.

Materials (for one placemat)

  • 18 - 2 1/2" squares from a mini charm pack (or cut your own!)
  • 3" x 8" contrasting fabric (white shown)
  • fat quarter of coordinating front fabric (grey/white round stitch shown)
  • fat quarter of backing fabric
  • 14" x 20" piece of batting
  • 62" finished binding (be sure to make a little extra)

For this project I used Fancy by Lily Ashbury for Moda. All of my seams are stitched with a shorter stitch length and 1/4" seam allowance. Seams are pressed open.

Cutting Instructions

Step 1: Cut your contrasting fabric into three 1" x 8" strips.

Step 2: Cut your front coordinating fabric into two pieces, 3 1/2" x 12 1/2" and 9 1/2" x 12 1/2".

Step 3: Cut backing fabric and batting 14" x 20".


Sewing Instructions

Step 1: Choose a layout for your charm squares. Each placemat will use a 3 by 6 array of squares. Here are my layouts for the two placemats I made. The beauty of using a mini charm pack is that everything coordinates perfectly!

Step 2: Stitch the charm squares into "6-packs" so you have three units per placemat, three squares wide by two squares tall. These units should measure 6 1/2" wide by 4 1/2" tall, unfinished.

TIP: To get those seams lined up as perfectly as possible, I press my seams open, and then use a straight pin right through the seams in both layers. Here, you can see what that looks like from the top and bottom. (Note: These pictures were taken from a later step in the process, but the idea is the same to build the 6-packs.)

Step 3: Slice the 6-packs in half, corner to corner. You'll need one to go the opposite direction of the other two. I have two going "downhill" and one going "uphill." I started by marking the center of my block by folding a crease into the middle of the center squares. Then I lined up my straight edge from corner to corner (a bit hard with the pinked edges on the charms) and through that center point made by my crease and the seam.

Step 4: Stitch the 1" strips of zig zag fabric into your 6-packs. The 8" long pieces should be just a smidge longer than your diagonal cut edge of your 6-pack. When lining up edges for sewing, the strip should hang past the edge of the 6-pack equally on each end, roughly 1/8" to 3/16". Piece with an accurate 1/4" seam allowance. This will allow this strip to simply replace the seam allowance and the finished unit should remain 6 1/2" x 4 1/2". Viewing the back of your seam you should see the edges of the strip touching each other.

Step 5: Trim each 6-pack down to 6 1/2" x 4 1/2". This should mostly be trimming of the edges of the strip you've just sewn in.

TIP: Since the edges may be hard to line up accurately, use your ruler to line up the corner square's seams at the 2 1/4" mark in both directions.

Step 6: Piece together your three 6-pack units to create the zig zag. Here are my zig zags for two placemats. These units measure 6 1/2" x 12 1/2". Refer back to my tip in step 2 for lining up seams.

Step 7: Attach the 3 1/2" wide piece to the left of the above unit and the 9 1/2" wide piece to the right. This gives you the full placemat, with an unfinished measurement of 18 1/2" x 12 1/2".

Step 8: Quilt and bind as desired.


Please visit other bloggers in the Mini Charm Challenge:

Sept. 14 - Jennie at Clover and Violet: Curvy Top Pencil Pouch
Sept. 15 - Lisa at Banana Cherie: NaKoa Mini Quilt
Sept. 16 - Me. Thanks for visiting!
Sept. 17 - April at The {Studio} Blog: Mini Charm Baby Bib
Sept. 18 - Nina at Nina with Freckles: Cute as a Button Mini Quilt
Sept. 19 - Konda at Moose on the Porch Quilts: Happy Hexi Flowers Small Quilt
Sept. 20 - Mary at See Mary Quilt: Rainbow Byte Mini Quilt
Sept. 21 - Kylie at Sew Kylie: Patchwork "Sew" Wall Decor