How Do You Finish Your Quilt Bindings?

Okay, I've got a question about binding. In between finishing up my daughter's quilt and some surfing I've been thinking about binding a lot the past few days. Plus, it was a nice distraction from the real world.

Machine Binding
- Can finish on the front or the back.
- Very fast.
- Clean look, but with a very visible seam.
- Great for quilts that live primarily for trunk shows.

Hand binding
- I actually enjoy hand finishing.
- It feels like a very personal touch on a quilt.
- More or less no seam line on a finished edge.
- It does take some time.

Personally, I've tried a few methods for finishing binding. My preference is for hand-finishing, but I've got nothing against a completely machine bound quilt. I do machine binding on quilts that are not gifts - class samples, trunk show quilts, even some book quilts. Hey, when faced with a looming deadline a girl does what a girl has to do!

Let me be clear. I do not feel guilty about machine binding, nor do I judge anyone's method for binding.

One thing I have noticed, however, is that for those who hand finish, stitches seem really far apart. I see these perfectly flat binding edges that are stitched down. It's one thing to not see any stitches because the quilter is just that good. And there are many, many techniques for hand stitching a binding. But people, you need to put a stitch closer than every half inch! When we quilt we call those big stitches in the quilting itself "toe catchers". On a binding I would call that a disaster. That is the place a quilt wears the most and having large, maybe loose stitches is asking for a finger to pull it out at the first chance it gets caught.

I'm perfectly willing to admit that I'm rather anal about my own hand finishing  - having my stitches come in between 1/4'' and 1/8'' apart. So yes, this takes me some time. But I've also never had a binding come loose. This is my most common method for finishing, but I've used the ladder stitch and been pleased with the results. And I recently tried switching up my needle in placement - through the binding instead of the quilt back and liked the look and stability of that.

What about you? How do you finish your bindings?