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Simply Sewn: Bindings 3 ways…

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Necklines and armholes quite often are finished with a facing. While I do like facings and the clean finish that they create, sometimes its nice to not have all that extra fabric and instead use a binding to finish the edge. A bound neckline or armhole can give a clean and professional ‘ready to wear‘ look to your self made garment. It can be applied in a few different ways to give a different look and with this method its quick easy and fuss free. In industrial sewing, most bindings are applied with a special foot with folding attachment that uniformly turns and folds the binding as you sew. With this method though, no special feet are needed, all raw edges are neatly enclosed and it’s really quite easy.

I have 3 different methods to show you using a simple neckline to demonstrate;

  1. Bound neckline, (no visible binding)
  2. Bound neckline, (visible binding)
  3. Using binding as a design feature + style line.

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1 – Bound neckline with binding turned to the inside:
In this example no binding is visible from the right side of the garment. The binding is sewn to the neckline, turned and folded to the inside and secured. The binding provides strength to the seam as well as finishing it neatly. This finish is suitable for light to medium weight garments such as blouses, dresses and tops. I like this finish because you only see a row of topstitching from the front.

Heres how to make your bias binding:

TIP to SEW FASTER: Make binding patterns that you can keep on hand for other projects, rather than having to work out the width of the bias binding strip each time. When making binding, cut more than needed and keep them aside for other projects.

Our binding strips are 3cm wide for this example.They are a little wider than average because our binding gets folded in half (lengthwise) and the folded edge becomes the edge of the binding, enclosing all raw edges with no tricky folding and pressing.

We arrived at this measurement (3cm) using the following calculation:
Desired finished width of binding (7mm) + extra mm’s (to allow for the turn of cloth, (9mm)), add seam allowance (6mm)** and double this (9mm +6mm = 15mm) x 2 = 30mm or 3cm.

**When using binding as a finish, I like to follow industrial sewing standards and use a smaller seam allowance of 6mm / 1/4” rather than the tradition home sewing patterns of 5/8 “ or 1.5cm. By using the smaller seam allowance you can sew curves much more accurately and you won’t need to trim, grade or clip the seam allowances. You may have noticed that when you buy prefolded binding, the seam allowances are made at 6mm / 1/4” , this is because the are made to the industry standard.

Press binding in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.

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Working from the rightside of the garment, sew binding to garment aligning the raw edges.
Turn binding out flat and press. Understitch binding ( what is understitching? click here )
Fold and press binding to the inside and Edgestitch binding in place, using the folded edge of the binding as a guide.

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2 – Visible Binding

Binding can also be folded to the front of the garment, and topstitched, totally enclosing the raw edge of the garment in the binding. The binding in this instance becomes more of a feature, and could be in a contrast colour or print.

Similar to the method above, we need to make an even wider binding piece, because in this instance the binding gets folded around both the rightside + wrongside of the seam we actually need to increase the width of the binding. The finished binding measurement gets multiplied by 4, add to this the doubled seam allowance. 40mm (10mm x 4) + 12mm ( 2 x 6mm) = 50mm or 5 cm.

The only other alteration is we don’t have a seam allowance at all on our garment seam, 0cm, nothing, cut it all away as the folded edge of the binding must sit on the seam line in order to keep the integrity of the style.

With the binding pressed in half as before, and this time working from the wrong side of our garment, stitch the binding and garment together using the 6mm seam allowance. I like to slighty stretch the binding around curves as I sew, to help it lie flat. Fold the binding up and over to the front of the garment with the folded edge covering our seam line. Press. Topstitch in place.

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3 – Binding as a design feature

Binding can also be used flat to edge a garment. Because the binding is cut on the bias the raw edges will not fray. This gives quite an interesting fashion look to say an singlet or camisole or even a t-shirt neckline and I have used it in past garments,  cut in a sheer chiffon on a silk singlet, it gives a lovely light contrast.

The binding width is flexible, determined on style but not wider that 1” , (+ 1 x seam allowance). As the raw edge becomes our garment edge, we need to deduct the binding measurement from the pattern seam line so that the style line of the garment remains the same.

Working from the wrong side of the garment, stitch binding to garment, aligning raw edges and stretching slightly around curves. Neaten the seams together and turn binding out with seams to the inside and press. I like to edgestitch the garment on the right side to keep the seam sitting flat.

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So next time you are finishing a neckline, maybe try a binding in one of the methods above and I’m sure you will love the results as much as I do!

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Simply Sewn: Under-Stitching

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If you are wanting to create a professional ‘ready to wear’ look to your self-made clothing, you’ll be wanting to familiarise yourself with the term and technique of UNDER-STITCHING. Ever had a facing or pocket lining refuse to stay hidden and pop out for attention? Most likely its because it hasn’t been under-stitched.

When I was learning to sew, the pattern instructions would often instruct me to ‘under-stitch‘ things like pocket facings, inside waistband facings etc, but in my impatience and and eagerness to wear my new garment, this was a step that I skipped over as I really didn’t understand what understitching was and why it was necessary. Over the years as my sewing skills increased, so did my desire for SEWING PERFECTION. Once I learn’t the what and how, I was impressed, it gave such tailored and professional finish with a crisp sharp edge and a perfectly turned facing that stays put!

While this might not be news or ‘new’ to some of you I thought that I’d do a little tutorial for those that are new to sewing and get everyone on the same page so we can all enjoy facings and linings that play nice and remain hidden. HERES HOW:

THE DETAILS: WHERE IS IT USED? Under-stitching is always used on the inside of the garment on any facing; i.e. neckline, armhole, inside pockets and shaped waistbands and also on bindings. It is a row of stitching, sewn from the right side of the garment, close to the seamline and through all the seam allowances forcing the seam to roll inside the garment to prevent the facing or pocket lining rolling outwards and being visible from the front of the garment.

HOW TO: Stitch the seam, the seam allowances are then graded ( if needed ) to 6mm, (1/4″), clipped or notched ( if needed ), then pressed to the side where the UNDER-STITCHING will be placed, i.e. pressed into the facing. I’m using a curved pocket piece to illustrate this technique.

**I like to use a smaller seam allowance, 6mm (1/4″) on seams that are curved such as pockets, collars, necklines etc. Because of the small allowance, I very rarely ( if at all) need to trim, grade, notch or clip the allowance as it turns very easily. This makes for quicker sewing!

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Working from the right side of the garment, stitch through the facing and all seam allowances, staying close to the seamline.

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Turn facing to the inside of the garment and press. If you look closely you will be able to see that the seam has rolled to the inside and about
1-2mm of the outside (shell) fabric is visible from the wrong side, which is perfect!

When making this tutorial I didn’t realise that black spotted linings don’t make for very good photos! Sorry for causing any eyestrain! Seeing spots anyone?

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