How to Sew Knit Bindings (With Less Bulk!)
Do you own a store-bought top with neckline or armhole bindings? Take a closer look. Aren’t the bindings pretty, so perfectly stitched down?
If you’ve ever applied your own knit bindings you’re likely aware how difficult it is to achieve that same level of finish. Bindings are bulky, fiddly, and just plain tough to sew neatly. This is the reason why many knit garments feature knit bands over bindings.
In an industrial setting, bindings are often applied to armscyes and necklines with a special machine that folds, stretches, and stitches the binding down in one fell swoop. The bindings are typically applied “in the flat” (i.e., before the neck or armscye is sewn shut) and the seam allowance is tacked down afterwards.
Confused? Take a look at this nifty video of the Vallynne Tank production process (binding insertion starts at 0:27):
When I was creating the Vallynne Tank pattern in collaboration with Seamly I wrote a method for binding the neckline and armscyes that I hadn’t seen before. It eliminates the bulk that comes with other methods (there are only four layers of fabric to stitch down, as opposed to six or more). But perhaps my favorite part of this method is that it most closely imitates what bindings look like on ready-to-wear garments.
But in testing the method was met with very mixed reactions. Some testers loved the method, saying it was the neatest binding they had ever sewn. Others thought the method required lots of pinning and not enough accuracy.
At the last minute I decided to modify the instructions, so that narrow bands were used instead of bindings. It was important to me to set the sewist up for success from the get-go, and I figured bands would do just that. Those testers that loved the binding method were a bit disappointed to see it left out of the pattern, so I thought a blog tutorial on the process would be a great way to show an alternative finish for the Vallynne.
This method of binding could be used on any knit garment. To do so, simply adjust the length of the bands to 90% of the circumference of the neckline or armscye. This method is intended for the intermediate or advanced sewist. A serger isn’t required, but does make the inside of the garment look a bit more finished.
Let’s get started.
What you’ll need:
- Vallynne Tank sewing pattern as part of the Seamly Summer Collection
- 1 to 2 yards of stretchy knit fabric (I recommend our Rayon Spandex Jerseys, you can see them in action here)
- Binding pattern pieces (see dimensions below)
|Armscye Binding (.in) - Cut Two||7/8 x 15 1/2||7/8 x 16 5/8||7/8 x 17 3/4||7/8 x 18 7/8||7/8 x 20|
|Neckline Binding (.in) - Cut One||7/8 x 20 3/8||7/8 x 21||7/8 x 21 5/8||7/8 x 22 1/4||7/8 x 22 7/8|
1. Prepare the Pattern and Sew to Step 6
After prewashing your fabric, cut out the Vallynne Tank, replacing the neckband and armscye band pattern pieces with the binding dimensions listed above.
Assemble the tank as instructed in the pattern up to step 6.
2. Prepare the Bindings
Optional for professional finish: Serge one long edge of all three bindings without cutting any width from the rectangles.
Then sew or serge together the short ends of the bindings with right sides together so that they form a loop. Press this seam open or to one side.
3. Pin the Bindings to the Tank
I’ll be using the “Four Quarters Method” for pinning the binding to the top. In one armscye, align the raw (non-serged) edge of the binding with the armscye, matching the binding seam with the underarm seam. Then find the center point of the binding (directly adjacent to the binding seam) and align that with the shoulder seam.
Find the “halfway points” of the two unpinned section of bindings and armscye and pin. Continue to separate the unpinned sections in half and pin to evenly distribute the binding around the armscye.
Repeat for the opposite armscye. For the neck binding, the same process applies, except that the binding seam is aligned with the center back.
4. Sew the Bindings to the Tank
Once pinned, sew or serge the bindings to the tank with a 3/8” seam allowance, stretching the binding slightly as you sew so that it lays flat.
Press the seam allowance towards the binding.
5. Press and Pin Bindings
Fold the binding up and over the seam allowance and press, aligning the edge of the binding so that it extends just past the stitching line.
Pin around the armscye, at least every inch, making sure the binding is evenly folded over the seam allowance.
6. Stitch Bindings Down
From the right side of the tank, stitch the binding down with a stretch stitch. I use a zig-zag stitch and walking foot, positioning the presser foot so that the stitch travels down the center of the band.
Alternatively, you can use a different stretch stitch or a coverstitch and stitch closer to the binding seam. I encourage you to test the method on a scrap piece of fabric to decide which stitching method works best for you.
Give your binding one final press and admire your handiwork!
Let’s see a comparison of the two methods (bindings on the left, bands on the right):
We’ll be back next week with an interview with Kristin Glenn, the founder of Seamly.co and the creator of the Vallynne Tank. Are you caught up on the Seamly Summer Collection Blog Tour? Take a look at who’s participating below and click over to their blogs to see their awesome Seamly creations!
June 8: Inside the Hem
June 9: The Doing Things Blog
June 10: Dandelion Drift
June 13: The Sara Project
June 14: Fa Sew La
June 15: Sew Mariefleur
June 16: Right Sides Together
June 17: Allie J.
June 18: Cut Cut Sew
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