Monday, June 1, 2015

Apply the perfect knit binding

I have a confession to make. I AM addicted to knits. I love jersey knit, interlock knit, French terry, sweatshirt knit, and swimsuit knit. I love animal prints, solids, Aztec prints, and lace. I love new knits and upcycles.
I AM a knit junkie. I love to sew with knits. I love leggings, shirts, skirts, and cardigans. They are soft . They are comfortable. They wear well. They stretch on "fat" days and hug on"skinny" ones.
blog post collage with branding
Despite my love affair with knits, we have had one minor dispute over the years, but no more! I am declaring THE BATTLE OF THE BINDING over.
Want to make some beautiful binding with me?
What you will need: Fusible Thread Glass head pins or other heat proof pins Ribbing (or you can use self-fabric if your fabric is super stretchy) Supplies for T-shirt pattern of your choice. For this tutorial, I will be using the Girls Fashion Basics cap sleeve T-shirt pattern by Dandelions 'n' Dungarees. Steam iron and ironing surface Girls Fashion Basics is a simple pattern--perfect for the beginner. It is a 2-piece pattern that has a hemmed neckline and sleeves. That means before we can add binding to the neck and sleeves, we need to hack the pattern. 

Photo credit to Kate. Didn't she do a fabulous job?  

Draw a line about 1/2" from the curve of the neckline on both front and back. This will become our new "pre-binding" neckline. Now draw a line from the shoulder seam to the the bottom of the sleeve. After drawing your lines, be sure and trace the back pattern piece before cutting the front one, or print the piece twice.
Love how I forgot to leave my labeling layer "checked?"  Yep--this pattern was labeled the old school way.
Love how I forgot to leave my labeling layer "checked?" Yep--this pattern was labeled the old school way. And I am also loving how I managed to print 3 pieces in color and 1 in gray scale. Oops.

Cut out your T-shirt fabric according to the pattern directions, but be sure to cut along the new back and front necklines we made above.
Now sew one shoulder seam right sides together. It doesn't matter if it is the right shoulder or the left one. I am easy going like that.


 Thread your machine or serger with fusible thread. For a standard sewing machine, wind the bobbin with fusible thread. For a serger, I thread it through the lower looper. You may need to use a thread cradle due to the thickness of the thread. On my serger, I used a narrow 3-thread overlock seam with a stitch length of 3.   We are ready to cut some binding strips. The length of the binding strip depends on the length of where it is being attached. If I am using ribbing, I like to cut my ribbing 75% the total length of the raw edge I am finishing. For self fabric, it may need to be longer. On this size 2, my neckline was 15 inches, so 15 inches x .75 = 11.25 inches. I cut a strip 11.25 inches wide x 1.25 inches long for my neckline. Follow the same formula to cut binding strips for your sleeves. Next, divide your neckline and binding into thirds. Pin the RIGHT SIDE of the binding to the WRONG SIDE of the shirt neckline. I pin even when serging--I just make sure to pin well into the shirt so the pins do not get hit by a needle or the blade accidentally, and I pull them out right before they get to the blade.

With the ribbing side up and the right side of your fabric against the machine, attach the ribbing to the neckline, STRETCHING THE RIBBING ONLY to fit. I use my serger and a 3-thread overlock stitch. I have also used a zigzag stitch on my regular machine by setting my machine for a wide zigzag with a medium length. This will form stitches made of fusible thread on the right side of the shirt.


See that lovely serged edge? Fusible Thread Baby!  
After you have finished sewing, take your shirt to your ironing surface. Fold the raw edge of your binding in 1/4", and then fold it over the seam.

USING GLASS HEAD OR OTHER HEAT PROOF PINS, pin the binding to the shirt so that the binding strip just covers the stitches. I recommend using pins liberally.
It is very important they are heat proof because we are going to iron right over the top of them, and we don't wanted melted plastic pin heads on our binding.
Boo on blurry pics--but you get the idea! 
Boo on blurry pics--but you get the idea!
With your steam iron set on the wool (or cotton depending on your fabric)setting, press your binding very well, using steam as needed. Let it cool. Your binding strip should now be fused to your shirt--how cool is that?

Take out the pins and give it one more press for good measure.
I have no pins to hold me down.
I have no pins to hold me down.
Sew up the second shoulder seam, making sure the edges of the binding are aligned. Press the seam toward the back.

Topstitch your binding. I like to use the utility "B" foot for my machine and a double needle. I set my stitch length at about 4. Sew slowly and close to the edge.

The binding is fused to your fabric and will not shift at all while you are sewing, making topstitching a breeze. When you are done, give it a good "steam."
binding 3 
This picture actually shows needle position on the sleeve, not the neckline, but we do it the same way.

Repeat this method for your sleeves. Don't you just love beautiful binding?
For a little bit of extra fun (yes--I am a sewing nerd), with the wrong side of your shirt down, go ahead and serge or zigzag the lower edge of your shirt pieces.
When you fold up the hem and press it in place, the fabric will fuse to itself and there will be no pinning required. And that, my friends, makes for beautiful topstitched, double needle hem.
Now that the Battle of the Binding is over, I think a play date is in order!
shorts shirt g1    
Need a great source for knit fabric? Try these.
Or how about a great pattern?
April Bryant is the co-owner and designer at Dandelions 'n' Dungarees. April has been sewing for over 35 years and always loves to find new ways to make her sewing life easier. On her best days, you can find her in the studio working on a great pattern or playing with her family.

1 comment:

  1. I have never sewn with fusible thread! I don't know how I have not. A great tutorial.


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