I love the ease of sewing with knits. And one of my favorite finishes for knit garments, especially necklines and armholes, is a self- or contrast-fabric binding. It produces a clean, elegant look, and it is really easy to do. Let me show you how I do it…
Measure your bound edges
First, measure the edges you want to bind. In this case, I’m binding the neck edge of a wrap-top. Use a flexible measuring tape for greater accuracy. I don’t worry too much about getting the exact length of the edge. I usually make extra long strips of binding and trim off the excess when I’m done.
Next, cut your binding strips. I cut strips of knit fabric on the crosswise grain, which has the most stretch. To figure out how wide my strip should be, I first decide how wide my binding will be on the outside of the garment. I multiply that number by 3 and add a scant ¼ inch. For example, if I want my visible bound edge to be ½ inch wide, I use the following equation to figure out how wide my strip needs to be:
3 x ½ inch = 1 ½ inches. 1 ½ inches + ¼ inch = 1 ¾ inch total width.
This will give me enough width to bind the edge with a little extra on the inside. If you prefer, you can make your binding even wider, and go back and trim the excess when you are finished.
Apply the Binding
Once your binding is cut, you need to do a little prep work on your garment fabric. First, trim off the seam allowance from the edge that you will be binding. Placing right sides together, sew the binding to your garment, keeping the raw edges even. Press the seam toward the binding, as shown.
Next, fold your binding over your garment edge to the wrong side and pin:
Working from the right side of the garment, sew very close to the binding:
This will catch the folded binding on the inside of your garment, enclosing the edge and making a clean finish, as shown:
Here’s the finished neckine:
That’s all it takes for a beautiful finish. One of the fun things about this is that you can use any contrast knit you would like to create a great garment with a designer touch.
A couple of afterthoughts:
I got a couple of questions in the comments section that merit some additional information here. First was a question about stitch type. You can see a primer on sewing knits that I wrote for Taunton Press here on their CraftStylish website.
Second was a question about whether to shorten the length of the binding to “snug up” the closing. The answer is that it depends. It depends on the style of the garment that you are making and on the fabric of the main body. I’ll use a neckline as an example. If the neckline pattern has a facing, compare the measurements of the facing’s neckline edge against the measurement of the neckline. If the neckline facing is shorter, then it’s a good bet that the designer intended for the “snugging” effect. In that case, go ahead and do it, using the length of the facing as your guide. If not, you need to make a judgment call whether the garment opening needs it and how much.
© Ann Steeves 2010, all rights reserved