Machine Binding Tutorial

For many years I sewed my quilt binding onto the front of my quilts by machine, then sewed the back edge down by hand. I enjoyed the whole ritual and used to look forward to spending a whole evening with a quilt on my lap, slowly stitching the binding on whilst watching Netflix. A quilt is supposed to be a labour of love after all. 

As my design work got busier, my commitments and deadlines started piling up. I was working on a quilt one day for a paid partnership and I realised I didn't have enough time to sew the back by hand. So I had a go at machine stitching it instead. It was far from perfect, but I had it done in half an hour and met my deadline! I'm sharing my method with you today, as I've had a lot of questions on Instagram after sharing a binding photo recently. This method is not only a massive time saver but also produces more durable quilts that can withstand many, many washes and you don't need to worry about the binding unravelling and needing repairs. 


Watch the video here

1. Cut your binding strips 2 1/4" wide, cross grain. 2 1/4" is my preferred width of strip as it produces a neater finish on the back, without a big 'flap'. I've always cut my binding strips cross grain rather than bias for standard rectangular quilts, in fact often I cut the strips straight from the bolt. I find bias strips overly stretchy for my binding method. If you aren't familiar with these terms this is a helpful article

2. Join the binding strips with diagonal seams, as shown.  Trim excess fabric 1/4” away from the seam, press open .Press the entire binding in half lengthwise, wrong sides facing. 
3. Starting half way down one side of the quilt, place the binding strip on the right side of the quilt, raw edge to raw edge. Leave a 6" tail of binding at the beginning, then sew the rest onto the quilt, with a 1/4” seam, mitreing the corners. Leave a 6" tail at the end of the binding also. Join the two tails of the binding with a diagonal seam (as above), press with iron down onto the quilt, and finish stitching it down with a 1/4" seam.

(Note: Up to this point this is pretty much the universal method for binding a quilt and there are many video and picture tutorials on the Internet if you are a beginner. I wanted to include these steps in this tutorial for completeness.  My machine binding method and my video below focuses on the rest of the binding process.)

4. You will need three quilting clips for the next step. I use Clover Wonder Clips but there are other brands out there, and I heard of people using bulldog clips for this also. Place the quilt on a flat surface, right side up, and fold over the binding to the back, as tight as you can so there is no 'gap' between the edge of the quilt and the binding. Clip. Repeat ~5 inches  below, folding over and clipping again, and then one more time 5 inches below the last clip. This is the most important part of the process and takes a bit of practice till you get used to it - if you don't fold back the binding sufficiently your stitches will not catch the binding on the back and you will end up with unsewn gaps.

5.  Place the quilt on the machine with the foot right below the first clip. I just use a regular sewing foot but you can use a walking foot also if you prefer or if you use high loft batting. Sew in the ditch with a 3 mm stitch length as close to the binding as you can get, without sewing over it. 

6. Keep stitching down the length of the binding, go as slowly as you need to, making sure your stitch line remains right up against the binding edge. Slide the clips down as you go. Periodically stop to repeat step 4, folding over the edge of the binding to the back and clipping. 

7. When you get to a corner, first fold over and clip the binding on the lower edge, then mitre the corner. You will notice in the video below that I first mitred the corner in one direction, it didn't sit quite right so I mitred it the other way and the corner looked sharper. There is no 'right' direction of mitreing so do what works and looks best. Put a clip on the corner to hold the mitred fold in place. Keep sewing all the way to the corner, right into it (and in fact you may even want to go a small stitch in onto the binding then back one stitch, if you want to absolutely make sure the corner is secure). Stop with needle down, turn the quilt 90 degrees and keep going as before. 

You should end up with a binding that's neat and even on the back. It does take some practice, so don't be discouraged if your first effort doesn't look as even.


The video below shows the whole process from step 4 onwards. 


- If you end up with unsewn gaps on the back, just unpick the stitch line up to an inch before the gap, fold the binding over tightly, clip, and repeat the process. If the gap is very small e.g. less than 1/4" you can just put a stitch or two in there by hand. 

- If you are using a very high loft batting, or really struggling to catch the edge of the binding on the back, with lots of unsewn gaps, try cutting your strips 2.5" wide instead. That should give you a bit more room for error as there will be more fabric on the back for your stitch line to catch. 


For those of you who asked on Instagram - this is the mini quilt I was binding! It's an old project from my WIP drawer that I dug up for this tutorial. It's a free block designed by Lori Holt - you can download the pattern here. The fabrics are a mix of prints from my stash, most of them over 5 years old.

Summer Stroll Quilt in Ombre Confetti

I've been itching to make a rainbow version of my Summer Stroll quilt ever since I first released it two years ago. The original quilt was in my Summer Blush fabric range for Riley Blake Designs, which are now long out of print, so it was time to update this pattern with new fabrics. I simply love, love, love the vibrant, gem-like colours in this quilt! The fabrics are Ombre Confetti by V & Co for Moda.

The construction method uses half rectangle triangles (HRTs) - if you look carefully in these WIP pictures that I previously shared on Instagram you can see the units. If you've never sewn with HRTs before don't be afraid - there's nothing to them, and the pattern has clear illustrations showing you how.

The original pattern included only 12 print fabrics (two triangles from each fabric) to minimize waste. I updated the pattern so you can now use 24 fabrics (a different print for each triangle), whilst also keeping fabric waste low. Both options are now included in the pattern so you can choose whichever method you prefer.

Pop over to my shop now to grab your PDF pattern! As an added bonus it's also on sale this week - happy sewing dear friends!

Embroidered Cottage | New Mini

The new issue of Homespun magazine is out in shops and on the cover is my Embroidered Cottage project! This is my third time being on the cover of Homespun, but the thrill of it never gets old.

I thoroughly enjoyed designing and making this project which combines a number of techniques - raw edge applique, 'drawing' with thread and hand-embroidery. This is a project you can make on a regular sewing machine - an embroidery machine is not required. The coloured fabrics are applique pieces backed with fusible web - I use Heat'n Bond Lite but other brands such as Vliesofix or Wonder Under could be used also. These pieces are fused onto the background by pressing with an iron, and then outlined in black thread on a regular sewing machine set to free motion mode with an open toe / darning foot. The flowers are added on in the final stage using two simple hand embroidery stitches (french knot and straight stitch). It may look like a complicated project, but it really isn't - just follow the simple steps and let go of your 'inner perfectionist' and you will end up with a charming piece of art.

The second project I wanted to show you today is my new mini quilt, which I made by sewing together the 6" blocks I've been making for the Riley Blake Designs Block Challenge. These are all classic quilt blocks (tutorials are available - search for #rbdblockchallenge on Facebook or Instagram for the details). The fabrics are the blue and pink prints from my Rhapsody collection. I finished the mini by matchstick quilting it, which always looks so nice with the texture it creates.

Life's beginning to return to normal here - a new form of 'normal' at least... South Australia has done extremely well with COVID 19 - eradicated in fact, we've had zero cases for quite a few weeks now. We still have some restrictions remaining but normality has resumed in most parts. Schools have gone back several weeks ago and kids' sports and dancing have resumed - which means I get LOTS of crochet time in the car again! So I decided to start a new blanket, using the gorgeous Nature's Walk Pattern by Sandra from Cherry Heart. Oh I love this so much! I'm using Scheepjes Stone Washed 4 Ply for it and here's my colour palette. It was a struggle to find all the colours I wanted locally so I had to order most of it from the UK, and it took 2 months to arrive. But well worth the wait.

Until next time, happy sewing dear friends!

New Fabric Collection: 'Fleur'

I'm so thrilled to introduce my newest fabric collection for Riley Blake Designs - Fleur, shipping August 2020.

Fleur is the next chapter in my fabric design story which remains forever inspired by flowers and the beauty of nature. I'm very blessed to live on a picturesque farm in wine country - surrounded all around by vineyards where we keep chickens and grow fruit trees. The peaceful rural setting and my own orchard and flower gardens continue to provide me with endless inspiration for my dainty floral designs. Fleur is a bright and cheerful collection with bold, vibrant colors spanning the whole spectrum of the rainbow - a versatile modern collection suited well for quilting, garments, home decor, totes and bags, and all manners of small sewing projects.

At the time of writing this post I'm still waiting for sample yardage of Fleur, which should be here any day now - unfortunately the package was delayed due to COVID19.  So I've put together some examples using the wonders of digital technology to give you a feel for how the fabrics would look incorporated into sewing projects.

There are three quilt patterns that accompany this collection - 'Alice's Garden' and 'Fleurette' are traditional machine pieced designs, with 'Lilac Posy' including a combination of traditional machine piecing and appliqué techniques. Paper patterns for all three quilts can be ordered directly from Riley Blake Designs or from my pattern distributors Creative Abundance.

Thank you for popping in to see my new fabric line today and I hope you are as excited about it as I am! Look out for it in shops in August (September in Australia). If you are a shop owner who will be carrying Fleur please do drop me a line at so I can thank you and also add you to my list of stockists. Have a lovely day dear friends!

'Handy Dandy' Pouch Tutorial | Fabric Stamps

Last week I realised I badly needed a small pouch for my crochet hooks, as I keep leaving them all over the place, and often have to fish around for them at the bottom of my crochet project bag. Does anyone else ever have that problem? The first pouch I made turned out so cute I made another one, this one for my spectacles (which I also keep losing). And I thought you may want to have the pattern to make your own so I'm sharing the tutorial on the Sew Can She blog today. This is a great website for free patterns and tutorials - a treasure trove in fact. You may want to bookmark it!

These skinny pouches finish at approximately 3” x 9” – they are the perfect size for not only hooks and spectacles but also you can use them for pencils, toothbrush/paste, or even make up brushes. They are so handy and pretty – which is the essence of ‘Zakka’, a Japanese design aesthetic that combines usefulness with beauty. A lot of my designs feature Zakka elements – I love the style!

You can find the tutorial here. Please tag me on Facebook or Instagram if you make them as I would love to see how yours turned out! In keeping with the Zakka theme I also made two stamps from the fabric scraps from this project (the pink one) as it was just too sweet to put in the bin. And once I made two I couldn't stop and I had to dive into my tiny scrap bucket to make more - they are totally addictive.

I had a few people ask me how I made them so here's a super quick tutorial for you! I first backed both the colourful scrap fabric and a larger white piece of fabric with fusible web. I use Heat'n Bond Lite brand but you can also use other brands such as Vliesofix, Wonder Under etc. I then neatly trimmed the colourful scrap with a rotary cutter, peeled the backing paper and ironed it onto the white fabric. I then trimmed all around the perimeter with pinking scissors, leaving the paper backing behind the white fabric on. When it's time to use them in projects you can peel off the backing and fuse it onto your project then. A cute way to add decorations to projects, or you can even make a mini quilt made entirely of stamps. Enjoy!

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