We see so many requests for help with binding on necklines, straps, etc, and with the release of Nevaeh, we knew it was time to come to your rescue! Truthfully, it is not as difficult as it seems, as long as you take your time and are precise with your seam allowances! Unfortunately, there are no “shortcuts” for neat and professional looking binding – it really just comes down to practice and precision.
Before we get started, I just want to point out a few common mistakes to avoid:
- SEAM ALLOWANCES – Not taking accurate seam allowances will change the width of your folds as well as your finished binding
- SKIPPING STEPS – Trying to sandwich your bodice/piece in between the binding WITHOUT attaching it first will result in sloppy binding, and will almost definitely result in portions of your binding/neckline where layers were missed
- POPPED STITCHES – Be sure to use a stretch stitch (chain stitch on your cover stitch machine, or one of the stretch stitches on your regular sewing machine; consult your machine’s manual for the best stitches for your specific machine, or see our Knits 101 here for some recommendations). This will help you eliminate the dreaded sound of a popped stitch!
A few other tips:
- MEMORY PRESSES/FOLDS NOT STAYING? You can use spray starch (look in the laundry section of most grocery/drug stores!). Spray the binding, and then press. Just be sure to place something in between your iron and your binding so the starch doesn’t gunk it up. You could use a scrap piece of fabric, etc. Pressing at each step will also help with this.
- MACHINE “EATING” YOUR BINDING? You can use a large square of tear-away embroidery stabilizer between the fabric and the feed dogs to prevent the fabric from getting caught in the feed dogs.
- PRESSING – Make sure to use up and down motions when pressing, rather not pulling the iron side to side. This will help ensure that your binding and fabric do not get stretched out.
- CURLING – Make sure that the fabric you’re using for binding doesn’t curl when you cut it, or it will be more difficult to apply. If you notice substantial curling, I would switch the a different fabric before trying to make it behave for binding!
- OVERWORKING YOUR FABRIC – Be careful not to “overwork” your pieces – this can happen from seam ripping over and over, too much steam/pressing, redoing stitches, stretching the fabric, etc. Taking your time and slowly going through each step will help minimize this!
Your first step for binding is to prepare your binding! In all of our patterns that include a binding finish, one of the first few pages includes the steps for preparing the binding. Just as in those steps, you will press your binding in half widthwise, with right sides together. Unfold, then fold both raw edges in toward the center (pink line shown below). Press again. Once you’ve created those memory presses on all of your binding pieces, you are ready to begin attaching your binding!
Attach the short edges of the keyhole binding piece to the edges of the keyhole opening on the bodice, with RIGHT SIDE of binding to WRONG SIDE of bodice. Clip in place.
After clipping both short edges in place, clip the center of the keyhole binding piece to the center of the keyhole opening on the bodice.
Ease (stretch lightly) the remainder of the keyhole binding piece to fit the keyhole opening. DO NOT stretch the bodice. Clip in place. Before stitching, double check that you have RIGHT SIDE of binding to WRONG SIDE of bodice. It’s much easier to check now than after you’ve sewn 😉
Baste the binding piece to the bodice along the first fold line (black dotted line closest to clips/raw edges shown below). The seam allowance used will be given in the pattern tutorial you’re using as well.
You can skip straight to serging or attaching with a stretch stitch, but I always find that including this extra step gives me a much cleaner finish, every single time. I highly suggest basting first!
Serge the seam allowance (or attach using a stretch stitch), using the basting stitches as a guide. Remove basting stitches, then refold binding piece. First, you will fold along the black dotted lines shown below. Press the serged edge up toward the neckline. Fold the opposite raw edge toward the center, with wrong sides together.
Fold again (along the pink dotted line shown below), enclosing both serged and raw edges.
Clip along the keyhole opening to hold binding in place. This step is SO important, so that your binding does not move around and expose the serged or raw edges. I use a ton of clips, and as a result, I have to edgestitch my binding very slowly so I don’t run them over. But! I very rarely end up with wonky binding, so the extra time is worth it.
Edgestitch your binding in place. I like to use a chain stitch on my overstitch machine, but you can use any stretch stitch you’d like. Just be sure you’re not using a regular length stitch on your sewing machine; even though the keyhole *looks* like it gives plenty of room, the stitches will sadly pop.
After attaching the keyhole binding, you are ready to attach the neckline binding. Many of the steps are exactly the same! First, your pattern piece will have markings to indicate where the binding should attach to the bodice edges. The remaining portion of the binding piece will typically serve as ties, as is the case with Adeline and Nevaeh.
Clip the neckline at the two marked points, as well as at the center of the neckline, and then ease the remainder of the binding piece in. Remember that you should only stretch the binding, NOT the bodice.
NOTE: If you are having to do a significant amount of stretching, double check the cut chart in the tutorial, as well as the stretch requirements! Fabric choice can certainly impact binding quality, and it’s easy to misread the cut charts! I suggest checking both BEFORE attaching your binding, if you notice you have excessive bunching or wrinkling at the neckline as you clip.
Baste along the first fold line, using the seam allowance directed in the pattern tutorial. Remember that the right side of your binding should be touching the wrong side of your bodice!
Just as before, serge the seam allowance (or attach using a stretch stitch), using the basting stitches as a guide. Remove basting stitches, then refold binding piece. Press the serged edge up toward the neckline.
Don’t laugh when you see how many clips I have on the binding pictured below – I use SO MANY for neckline binding. If you’ve watched any of the sew-a-long videos, you probably already know that this is the ONLY time I go clip crazy 😉 It really is the simplest way to ensure a polished neckline!
Fold the opposite raw edge toward the center (pink line), with wrong sides together. Fold again, enclosing both serged and raw edges.
Edgestitch your binding in place, and you’re all done!
Don’t let binding be the scariest part of your October! Do not try to rush the binding steps; go slowly, and be precise with your pressing, measuring, and stitching! We can’t wait to see which binding project you decide to tackle this month. Looking for a free pattern to try your hand at binding? Check out Paige and Women’s Paige to get some practice in. As always, don’t forget to share in our Facebook group!