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How to Make & Attach Your Own Knit Fabric Binding

Finishing and binding knit edges may seem tricky, but once you get the hang of how to make a binding with knit fabric, you’ll want to bind everything with knits.

I’ll show you several ways to making a binding with knit fabric — some straightforward and some more advanced. You can add bindings as necklines, sleeve and pant cuffs, bottom of shirts, short sleeve bindings and I’m sure more that I’ve not even thought of. 

perfect knit bindings and hem

Measuring and cutting your binding

To determine the length of your binding fabric, measure the opening you plan to bind. Calculate 80-90 percent of that number — that’s how long you’ll cut your binding fabric.

If my binding fabric is really stretchy (like a ribbed knit), I usually cut close to 80 percent. If my fabric is not so stretchy (like jersey), then I cut at the 90 percent length.

I like to cut my width between 1¼” and 2″ for all projects.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re binding a neckline that measures 20″ in length. The binding fabric will be between 16″ and 18″ long (80 percent and 90 percent of 20″, respectively).

supplies for binding with knit

Now that you have established how to long to cut your binding, let’s look at how to put it on. I recommend using a good stretch thread — bulky or wooly nylon work great — in the bobbin and a twin needle for best binding results.

Option #1: Bind on an open or straight edge

This method works well for any edge that has one open edge (read on for a different approach for attaching bindings “in the round”). I’ll use a tank top as an example, where I’ve sewn one of the shoulder seams. but the same method applies for sleeve and pant cuffs.

Step 1: 

how to bind with knit fabric on a straight line

Measure and cut the binding as directed above. Then, fold binding in half with wrong sides together.

Align the raw edges of the binding with the raw edge of the garment, stretching it to fit. Try not to stretch your main garment fabric, just stretch the binding.

You will pin three layers of fabric: two layers of the binding and one layer of the garment.

Step 2:  

knit neck binding

Sew with a serger, knit stitch or zig-zag stitch. 

Step 3:

how to make a knit binding

Sew the second shoulder seam closed (if applicable for your project).

Topstitch around the main fabric close to the edge (about 1/8″ from the binding edge) with a twin needle. I like to used a stitch lent of 3 when topstitching. You can also use the narrow knit stitch setting on your sewing machine to topstitch. 

Option #2: Bind on a closed edge

This method is best for a round edge — for example, a neckline where both shoulder seams are already sewn.

Step 1:

make a binding with knit fabric

Measure and cut the binding as directed above. You need to be particularly precise in your measurement because you won’t be able to cut away any excess.

Sew your binding fabric into a circle. Fold the binding in half with wrong sides together.

make a binding with knit fabric

Lining up the three raw edges: two from the binding and one from the other clothing piece.

Pin the binding around the garment edge: I like to divide the main fabric and the binding both in fourths, placing a pin evenly around both. Then, match the four points and stretch the remaining binding to fill the rest.

Step 2: 

Sew the binding and garment together with serger or zig-zag. Topstitch close to the seam with your desired stitch (I like a knit stitch or twin needle).

Option #3: Fold-over binding

This method is specifically for sewing necklines with no exposed seams. With this method, I like to sew with only one shoulder seam sewn. You can also sew it in the round, but it is more difficult.

Step 1: 

how to make a knit binding

Measure and cut your binding as described above, choosing a width on the wider side (about 2″). Fold and press the binding in half with wrong sides together. 

Step 2:

knit binding

Pin the right side of your binding to the wrong side of your shirt. Sew with a knit stitch or zig-zag and at a 3/8″ seam allowance. 

Step 3:

how to make a fold over knit binding

Turn your shirt over so the right side is facing you. Fold the 3/8″ seam allowance up toward the binding. 

Step 4:

fold over knit binding option

Fold the binding edge in toward the seam allowance. The raw edges of the binding should now meet in the middle. You can use the crease you pressed before to make sure they really are in the center.

Step 5:

knit binding

Fold the binding over to cover the seam allowance. Pin all around, stretching to fit as you need. 

Step 6:

fold over knit binding

Topstitch with a zig-zag or twin needle. This time you’ll topstitch directly on the binding. Press to smooth the binding. 

There you have it! Now that you know how to make a binding with knit fabric, you’ll want to make all kinds of garments with knits.

If you’d like to make any of the garments featured in this post, you can download them all for free on Craftsy:

Womens Romper Pattern

womens romper patternGirls Tank Dress Pattern

girls tank dressGirls Tank Top Free Pattern

girls tank top pattern

5 Comments

Passante

Is the binding cut on the straight grain or the bias?

Reply
Tina

Yes, I have that same question. It would be great if you could modify the post to include this answer.

Reply
Jane Schwarz

I would assume that you would cut it on the stretchiest grain. Either lengthwise, widthwise or bias. You would need to determine this based on the fabric you are using. She mentions knit so I would determine if you want to use the fabric with the stretch across it’s width (from selvedge to selvedge) or lengthwise, parallel to the selvedge

Reply
Lesa

Do you wind the wooly nylon on the bobbin like you would with a normal thread?

Reply
Linda G

For most knits, the fabric has the most stretch in the cross-grain (selvage to selvage). You cut the length of the binding strips across the grain to take advantage of this “give” to allow the binding to be stretched along its length to fit the curves of the garment and the body. The crosswise give is designed to stretch, then relax to return to its original size and tension. You want the binding width to have less stretch so it is stable.

The width or cross-grain of a knit is what is usually cut for the horizontal parts and cuffs of the garment to achieve a stretchy, flexible fit around the body. On a knit with a rib, you can see the rows of ribs running side-by-side across the grain. The stretch is knitted into the space created in the ribs. This is less evident in a jersey knit.

Most knits are more stable in the lengthwise grain (with the grain), allowing you to make garments that don’t grow longer as you wear or hang them, because you usually cut the vertical length of the garment on the lengthwise grain. If you can see it, the “v” in the knit stitch usually points in the lengthwise grain direction.

If you cut the knit binding on the bias, you may have difficulty controlling the finished width of the binding. It won’t be stable on the edge, as it will want to continue stretching and draping. It will always seem loose, unless your knit has minimal stretch.

Reply

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