How to use the binding foot

If you get frustrated putting on binding because you sometimes miss catching the back of the binding and get little gaps – you need this article!  Never miss the back again and get perfectly straight stitching – learn how to use the Binding Foot.

Do you remember that Ultimate 52-Piece Presser Foot Set I bought? I've been gradually working my way through them a bit at a time, with varying degrees of success. I'm never one for worrying too much about the accuracy of my sewing so these are certainly helping me get a great finish on all of my test pieces.

There is one, in particular, I wanted to share with you, the Binding Foot. This is a revelation! I now worship the binding foot and have been making up all sorts of little bits and pieces to add some binding onto.

Let's take a look at how it works

Features of the binding foot

The binding foot is adjustable so that it can deal with varying widths of binding.  It works with bias binding and is perfect for use around gentle curves and circles, and it also works with straight cut binding for straight edges too.  With some practice you can also use it to get neatly mitered corners too – maybe once I get a bit more practice, a new how-to will follow to show you my tips for doing that. For now, we'll assume we have to add binding to a straight edge and will do it in a single pass, sewing front and back at the same time (perfectly).

There are two wheels on the foot.  One so that you can adjust the position of the foot itself and slide it left or right and then another wheel that adjusts the width of the clear part of the foot that holds the length of binding. This controls a sliding guide that runs along the length of the binding as you sew and keeps it snugly in place against the guides for perfect stitching.

The plastic parts are flexible, especially when that lower wheel is turned to the wider setting so that they can be opened wide to allow the fabric and binding sandwich to be put together.

Mine has numbers printed on indicating the width of the binding, but you don't really need the numbers.  Just turning that wheel until the binding is snug is more important than using a number as a guide I think.

How to load the binding and fabric

Open up the lower wheel to move the guide over to the right-hand side.  This allows the upper and lower piece of the ‘jaws' to open up more easily.  Now at this point, some tutorials I have read suggest feeding in your binding first and you can certainly try this and see if you get on OK that way.

Binding first method.  Feed in the binding tape with the open edge on the left and the fold on the right.  Separate the open edges and slide both the top and bottom edges inside the little tabs on the left of the jaws. This is how it should look with the fabric top and bottom separated and held by the little plastic guides.

Adjust that bottom wheel until the guide now moves over snugly to the folded edge of the binding so that the binding is held in place smoothly between the left and right edges, but without puckering.

Now open up the jaws with your fingers and slide in the item/fabric/garment/quilt to be bound.  Push the edge right up to the fold of the binding.  Slip the foot and binding up to the start of the edge to be bound.  You are all set to sew.

Whole sandwich method.  I found this one easier personally, so try each and see which you prefer.  This time instead of loading the binding first and then the fabric after, I pinned the binding to the fabric and loaded it into the foot all in one go.  Move the guide over to the right so you can open up the jaws easily.  Near to the start of where you want to sew, pin or clip the binding to the fabric/quilt as if it were ready to sew, with a gap of 3 or 4 inches between your pins.

Now slide the foot in place around the whole sandwich, between those pins, and position the edges of the binding in the little guides on the left.  Make sure the front and the back are lying in the guides smoothly.

Turn the lower wheel to move the right-hand guide snugly up against the fold of the binding.  It's all now in place and ready to sew.  Remove the top pin, slide the foot back to where you want to start sewing and you are all set.  Remove the lower pin as you sew.

I found this way less fiddly by loading the whole sandwich at once.

Stitching with the binding foot

If you have a machine with an adjustable needle – easy!  Clip on the foot to your machine and adjust your needle to exactly where you want to stitch your binding.  Pick right on the edge, or just back from the edge to be extra safe you won't miss a spot on the back.

If you don't have an adjustable needle position, then you will use the little screw at the top, loosen the foot and then slide it so that the needle position is lined up just right so sew along the edge of the binding.  Then tighten the screw again.

Just manually drop your needle down into the fabric to check you are happy with the placement.  Assuming you are, then you are ready to sew. Your foot may be pretty flat or it might be like mine.  With my binding foot, the front plastic part is at an upward angle as it faces me. The presser foot itself is, of course, flat against the bed of the machine and the feed dogs, but in order to feed my sandwich into the foot, it worked best for me to hold it up at a slight angle to feed in.

Now just sew merrily along, make sure the binding stays in the little guides and that the fabric or quilt in between the binding stays butted up close to the fold and let the foot and the machine take care of the rest.  What do you get?  Perfectly sewn binding front and back, a perfectly straight line of stitching, and no missed bits when you turn it over – genius!

So if it drives you crazy when sewing on binding that you turn it over and find you missed the back in a couple of spots, make your sewing life easier with one of these binding feet.  Get it in the Ultimate 52-Piece Presser Foot Set above, like I did or you can, of course, buy them separately too.




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