This post on how to sew knit binding in the round is sponsored by Fabricworm.com. But the project/tutorial, as well as any opinions, are all mine. Please check out my disclosure policy at the bottom of my advertising page to learn more.
Many of us dislike sewing them, and others think we need to use rib knits only.
I’ve got a couple of pieces of advice on how to sew knit binding.
Get rid of that thick rib knit for bindings. Unless you’re using a fine baby rib, most ribbing is too thick and bulky to do the job.
Forget about the length of the binding called for in most patterns.
Because it’s the fabric stretch that determines how long to make your binding. Using the recommended measurement is just a starting point.
Previously I showed how to draft a tank top from any t-shirt pattern, and I also wrote a post about sewing neck binding “the Ottobre Way” a couple of months ago during our Ottobre sew-along. But I wanted to demonstrate another method of sewing a neckband – in the round.
So when Fabricworm.com launched their new line of organic knit solids - and asked if I could use this Birch Marine Too knit fabric by Dan Stiles (with whales on it!) as well, I knew I wanted to make a summer tank for my daughter and use the knit solid for the binding. (Fabricworm sent both fabrics to me for use in this tutorial.)
Granted, a binding made of regular jersey (without spandex) should be used only when the neckline isn’t too tight and doesn’t require too much stretch, but if measured properly, it lays nicely.
And the key to figuring out how long to make your binding strip depends on how stretchy your fabric is, as well as the circumference of your neckline.
How to sew knit binding in the round
To sew knit binding in the round for a neckline, first sew the shoulders together on both sides, right sides together, using either clear elastic or fusible tricot to stabilize the seams and prevent the top from stretching at the shoulders.
Next, measure the neckband by using a piece of twine or yarn and laying it carefully along the neckline (below).
Now, cut the twine (once you’ve made it all the way around the neckband), and measure it. Fold the twine in half, then in half again, and mark it at each quarter. Lay the twine back along the neckband and make these same quarter marks on your top, starting in the center back.
Next, you’ll have to do a little math. For a non-spandex cotton jersey (like my Fabricworm jersey), you’ll need to cut your binding strip about 15 percent smaller than the neckline, AND THEN add the seam allowances.
In other words, this is 85 percent of the neckline circumference plus seam allowances.
For jerseys with spandex, or for baby rib knits, or any other fabric with quite a bit more stretch, you’ll need to cut the strip 20-25 percent smaller before adding seam allowances (multiplying by 75 or 80 percent). Some binding can be cut 30 percent smaller.
You’ll just need to test it. No biggie.
In my example, the tank neckline measures 18 1/2in, so I multiplied 18.5 by .85, which is about 15 3/4in. Then I added my 3/8 seam allowance to both sides….which is 3/4in. I then cut the binding length to about 16 1/2in.
(use the width as suggested in your pattern, though! The length is the only measurement you’ll change).
Once you’ve cut out your binding, sew it in half at the short ends, right sides together. Fold it in half (starting at the seam), and then in half again, to mark in quarters.
Pin your knit binding to the neckline of the tank top, right sides together, matching the quarter marks on the binding to the quarter marks you previously made on the tank. Place the seam of the binding in the back, lining it up with the mark you made.
This method works best if you use only four pins (4) – one on each quarter mark.
As shown below, the binding is smaller than the tank – and you want it that way! If it’s not, then your neckband will gape and droop. And who wants that?
Now stitch the binding with a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine, stretching only the binding and not the tank top fabric. I sew with the “binding side” up so I can see what I’m doing…and I sew slowly from pin to pin while stretching the binding and making sure it matches the neckband. You can see more in my original post on knit binding.
Once the binding is sewn, check your work and re-do if necessary! Once you know it’s perfect, fold the binding to the back and stitch down with a double needle on your machine or a coverstitch machine, stretching both the fabric and the binding very gently to make sure it will continue to stretch when worn.
When sewing a tank top, you’ll need to repeat this process for the arm openings as well!
I love a well-sewn binding because it looks so professional. And doesn’t my little one look so cute in her Whale of a Tale outfit?
…as you can see, she could only stay serious for so long….
Thanks so much again to Fabricworm.com for sponsoring this post (you may read my disclosure policy if desired). Their jersey knit organic fabric is great for drapey items like skirts, or looser tops, or ruffles. I wouldn’t use it for clingy clothing like leggings, because it doesn’t have spandex/Lycra that will help the fabric spring back into shape.
But, as you can see – it even works well for knit binding! By understanding how different fabrics stretch – and doing just a little math and measuring – it’s easy to figure out how to sew knit binding like a pro!
Want to make the skirt, too, to complete your look? Check out Part 1 of the Whale of a Tale Pocket Skirt tutorial where I show you how to draft the skirt and pockets, and Part 2 of the Whale of a Tale Pocket Skirt tutorial where you’ll get a free PDF download describing how to sew non-twist elastic AND get a free whale appliuqe.
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