In yesterday’s post, while celebrating the happy marriage of knit fabrics + 50’s boleros, I mentioned finishing the sleeve hems and bottom edge of the bolero with an extra wide knit binding, done in the usual way. Commentator (is that actually the correct word or is my spellcheck whack?) Marthaeliza asked where she could find that method. I’m so red-faced! I haven’t explicitly addressed this technique, though I do use it in my patterns and hacks. I also used it to create the fauxlero seaming interest on the recent 40’s Charm Tee:
There are many, many ways to finish a knit neck, sleeve or hem edge. This is one way. I like to know as many ways to do something (like finish a neck edge) as possible. One way may work better in certain situations, etc. This is my go-to basic bound edge. Even when a pattern states otherwise, I usually finish neck edges this way. I have seen some truly terrifying (not to mention fiddly, difficult or just plain silly) ways to finish a knit neckline- this is the simplest and most versatile method in my arsenal.
Cut a binding strip 1.5″ (3.75cm) and somewhat longer than the to-be-bound edge. On a neckline edge, my usual method involves sewing one shoulder seam, inserting the binding, and catching the ends of the binding in the shoulder seam edge. When done neatly, it makes no difference to the appearance of the finished garment. Also, I’m sure there’s rules about it, but I cut my binding strips both along the stretch and along the length of the fabric, as seems handiest at the time. I have never seen much of a difference.
Fold in half lengthwise, right sides facing out, and press.
To sew it on a flat edge, simply match up the raw edges and stitch. A 1/4″ (6mm) seam allowance is the norm for knits. USE BALLPOINT NEEDLES.
I use a “lightning bolt” stitch on my machine for sewing knits because it allows the garment to stretch. If you use straight stitches, the seam will “pop” under stress. If you don’t have a lightning bolt stitch, play around with a narrow (width) and long (length) stitch until you come up with something like mine. I used a contrasting thread to show my stitching, usually I go for something that blends into the fabric.
Trim off any extra binding.
I also overlock/serge seams on knits because while it isn’t necessary to prevent fabric fraying, it does create a sturdier, longer lasting seam.
Curves are tricker to bind, but not by much. Do test it on a few little samples first if you’ve never done it before or if you’re working with a new fabric. There’s a little “fingertip knowledge” that must be built before you get consistent results. But it won’t take long and it’s worth the practice. Or just make a few shirts with wibbly necklines, that’s ok too.
I place the binding and neck edge under the foot with the raw edges lined up for the first inch or so. Pins are much more a hindrance than help here. I take a few stitches to secure the beginning of the binding to the garment.
After the first few stitches, I gently stretch the binding around the curve of the neck. The lower fingers on my right hand keep the garment fabric from stretching. DO NOT STRETCH THE GARMENT FABRIC. I use my right thumb and forefinger to gently stretch the binding, and my left-hand fingers guide the binding into place. It just takes a little coordination.
Stephen took a short clip to show you how my fingers move. Isn’t he sweet?
Wrong side, before finishing or pressing. Just trim off any extra, no sweat.
Right side, after pressing the seam toward the body of the “garment.” You can also top-stitch along this seam, about 1/8″ from the seamline.
Questions? I’m listening. Later this week I’ll tackle a few other questions I’ve come across in blog reading and from y’all, I like addressing specific questions.
The banner is my “sweater knit” from the bolero. I don’t know what else to call it, it’s thickish like a sweatshirt but has a knit “look.”
Check out the crazy fabrics my daughter wanted made into a dress:
Tomorrow: I finally finished “The Diamond Chariot” (see sidebar) and it’s just one of those books you have to tell everyone about. So I’m telling y’all about it tomorrow. It’s Russian. Book Review Time!