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Tips & Techniques > Narrow binding on necklines and armholes for knits

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Posted by: Deepika
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About Deepika starstarstarstar
MA United States
Member since: 11/28/01
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Posted on: 6/15/05 3:13 PM
Last Updated: 9/23/11 9:06 AM
Review Rating: Helpful by 7 people   Very Helpful by 80 people   
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I used to be a fan of turned under and topstitched finish until I started doing the bound edge. And now I am a total convert. Actually I have been a convert for a while. I just didn't realize that there is no tip on how to do it here. Actually its no rocket science but sometimes it's helpful to direct people to a tip rather than explain it. So here's how I usually do bindings on my knit tops.

Step 1: Measure the circumference of the neck or armhole on the stitching line (not on the cut edge). For example lets say it's 21 inches. Now add 1/2" more to this (for 1/4" seam allowances). So our total is now 21.5"

Step 2: How stretchy is your knit? If its fairly stretchy like onionskin you can easily subtract 2" (sometimes even more from this measurement. Otherwise subtract 1" from it. So lets say we are doing this on an onionskin, our final measurement is 19.5". Now cut one strip (two if this is for the armholes) on the crosswise grain of fabric. Width of the strip should be roughly 4 times the final width of the binding. This binding will be seen from the right side of the fabric. I usually do 3/8" or 1/4" bindings so I'll cut my strip 1" X 19.5" .

Step 3: Sew this in a circle, joining the short ends together (Right sides together). Press seam allowances open. I like to do this on my sewing machine - much less bulk, but you could certainly use a serger. In that case you would press the seam allowances to one side.

Step 4: Find the center front and center back of your neckline. Now you need two more marks to quarter the top. Mark similarly on the binding.

Step 5: Pin the binding to the Neckline Right sides together matching the marks. Stretch the binding evenly.

Step 6: With binding on top and the neckline or armhole towards the sewing machine/serger bed, start stitching. Sew all around the neckline again stretching the binding evenly to match the neckline. I usually just use a tiny straight stitch for this.

Step 7: Fold over the binding on the seam allowances and to the inside so that the binding is visible on the Right side of the garment. Press and pin again. I like to press on a curved surface - like a sewing ham.

Step 8: Finally stitch in the ditch from the right side to secure the folded over binding to the inside of the top. This means Finding the "well or ditch" of the previous stitching and stitching right in the center of it so its virtually invisible. Its very easy to do this if you use some kind of a edgestitching foot. Since we are using a knit, the raw edge inside won't fray, but if your knit ravels, finish one long edge before doing all this.

Step 9: Give it a final press and admire your work :)

Nine steps seem like a lot of work, but once you do this technique you will see how easy it is. I really like it because even if there is a slight chance of gaping, with this method its taken care of.

The photo which I have attached to this tip is a good example of what it looks like. Remember that the binding should always be slightly smaller than the neckline/armhole circumference.

I hope I haven't missed out any steps.

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BeckyC said... (7/26/13 9:22 AM) Reply
binding technique for knits
Gendun said... (9/19/12 1:19 PM) Reply
Thank you so much for this tip: It's clearly written and explains it perfectly. Well done!
Gendun said... (9/19/12 1:19 PM) Reply
Thank you so much for this tip: It's clearly written and explains it perfectly. Well done!
Wooka said... (9/24/11 12:58 PM) Reply
Starting to sew sweater knits and will use this thank you Wooka
sewcreative said... (9/24/11 11:54 AM) Reply
For step 6, I always use the serger. The width of the serged stitching will be the width of the binding. When you fold over the fabric(step 7) the binding will automatically be even all around, and the serging gives it body.
Patricia Dee said... (9/23/11 9:45 AM) Reply
This has always been a spot of GRIEF to me, Thank you so much for the know how.
Deepika said... (9/23/11 9:06 AM) Reply
HagridsMom, thanks so much. I just fixed the typo.
HagridsMom said... (9/22/11 7:30 PM) Reply
step 6 - do you mean stretch the binding evenly? it says evening! Actually very clear and helpful, thanks!
donna mel said... (3/11/09 12:28 PM) Reply
thanks AGAIN
magsann said... (2/18/08 2:54 PM) Reply
I use a similar method to the above but cut the binding three times the width instead of four and put the binding right side to wrong side of garment, stitch, press and then turn to the outside of garment, (as if turning a facing) pin and stitch. This gives one less layer of fabric and just one line of stitching on the inside of the garment.
Sewshot said... (11/25/06 10:47 PM) Reply
I've avoided knits because I've never learned these techniques; I now can't wait to try it! This one, together with the clear elastic tip, provides such clear information it gives me courage to try!
dregan said... (4/4/06 4:11 PM) Reply
Exactly what I was looking for-I cut a different neckline and didn't know how much less to cut it. I did it once and was too little to use, although I'd heard 2/3 or 3/4. That would never have worked on this knit. I'm ready to go now. Thank you!
sarads said... (10/16/05 10:36 PM) Reply
this is so helpful too! I always mess up, but keep trying new pruducts that will help. thanks again
Nana said... (10/13/05 7:32 PM) Reply
nicely done !
aneri_masi said... (6/22/05 1:27 PM) Reply
Deepika, thank you, thank you, thank you! I was almost in tears trying to figure out how to do this. These are very well written instructions. Can't thank you enough!
tigger said... (6/18/05 1:31 AM) Reply
thanks Deepika - I just had a bad result trying to do a binding for a neckline on a knit - one with poor recovery - when making the infamous Burda twist top. I'm getting ready to try this again and am going to try your tip out. thanks!
ColoSew said... (6/17/05 8:25 PM) Reply
I just tried this on black slinky knit and have experienced a total disaster. Has anyone else mastered this on slinky? Is there any secret, or just more practice? By the way, what is Onionskin? Is there any other name for it?
JDpenelope said... (6/16/05 4:19 PM) Reply
Thanks for this tip! Very well-written and clear. Even though I also love this finish, your review is a good refresher. Most, but not all, knits don't ravel, so it's nice to avoid the nasty business of turning under or serging the edge on the wrong side. For fleece, I cut plenty of width, wrap around tightly (Be careful pressing fleece!!), stitch in the ditch, then cut off the excess width on the wrong side--I use applique scissors, but that isn't essential. Thanks, again.
hongkongshopper said... (6/16/05 5:06 AM) Reply
Maychi said... (6/16/05 4:54 AM) Reply
Great tip and instructions, Deepika! And perfect timing as well:) And beautiful top! Thank you for posting this tip!
SewVeryTall said... (6/16/05 1:47 AM) Reply
Very cute top, Deepika...great chevon matching and cross-grain binding!

Levone...the seam allowances should be removed, because they aren't needed. Binding like this leaves the area the same size before and after application.

Just in case some beginners might not know this, it's best to stay-stitch just outside the seamline [1/8 to 3/16"], before trimming off the seam allowance, to stabilize the area.

Levone said... (6/16/05 0:46 AM) Reply
Great tip, thanks! If the pattern wasn't designed for binding, does any adjustments need to be made?
Kathryn said... (6/16/05 0:41 AM) Reply
Thanks for the nicely written tip, Deepika! Your top looks absolutely wonderful. Matching those stripes into a chevron and making the binding perfect--it looks like a designer top.
Cambric Tea said... (6/15/05 11:07 PM) Reply
Wow. Onionskin. I admire people who can sew with that. I'm not a delicate sewer! Thank you for the tip, and your binding looks perfect!
Queendom said... (6/15/05 8:21 PM) Reply
Just in time! I'm just getting ready to work on onionskin for the first time. Great tip! Thank you.
Hilary said... (6/15/05 4:11 PM) Reply
Great tip and excellent instructions, Deepika! One thing that might help is to mention if your knit does not contain lycra or spandex (ie, has poor recovery) then adding clear elastic (I think a one to one ratio to the binding? ) would stabilize the neckline or armhole and prevent the waviness that often happens on knit garments. Actually I think you wrote a tip on that too, didn't you! :o) This will be very useful! Thanks!
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