how to attach a narrow binding for knitwear

here is a little top i made for my daughter. since i have recently discovered the awesomeness that is the dolman tee, i decided to make one out of a knit fabric i bought from gee i wonder where… girl charlee. this is one of those roxy prints, which i bought mostly because purple is her favorite color. it’s kind of a strange fabric… it’s a burnout but just barely, not a ton of stretch, and it’s medium weight.

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i assume there isn’t a kid-sized dolman pattern out there so i drafted my own based on a regular knit tee pattern i had. assuming this pattern ran large, i traced off a size 8. to get the dolman shape i took the sleeve pattern piece and lined it up at the shoulder seam then let the bottom seam sit on the seam line under the arm. i taped the pieces together then traced out a dolman shape under the arm and added the upper seam allowance where the shoulder seam extends down the sleeve. i used the same piece for front and back and simply drew in a different neckline for the front (just as the cation designs dolman tee is printed).

i guesstimated how long the arm and hem bands needed to be and cut a binding strip for the neckline. this narrow binding is becoming one of my favorite neckline finishes. i’ve done it several times and only casually mentioned it here on the blog… so to let you in on my awesome binding method, here’s a handy dandy tutorial for you!

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how to attach a narrow binding for knitwear

this binding method is most similar to a regular bias binding for wovens. make sure that the edge you are binding is without any seam allowance, or that you have added width to your pattern if you are replacing a banded finish.

cut a strip of knit binding on the crossgrain (or bias if you’re dealing with stripes) to retain stretch. it should be about 1 1/4″ wide and a couple inches longer than your neckline. (note: my binding strip is cut 1 1/2″ wide and ended up being wider than necessary.) if you choose, serge one edge of the binding strip. this is not absolutely necessary, but later when you topstitch i feel like the serged edge gives the topstitching something to grab on to and is a little more secure than a raw edge.

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after sewing the shoulder seams, take the binding strip and line it up with the edge of your top, right sides together. serge the binding all the way around the neckline edge and stretch the binding as you sew. no need to be gentle here, just try to keep the pressure as even as possible, stretching a little harder as you go around any curves. i usually stretch the binding, hold it in place, then serge an inch or two at a time; stopping and starting as i go.

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once you are almost back to where you started, trim your bias strip so you have 1/2″-1″ overlap, and just let the ends overlap. sure you can stop serging, piece the binding together then finish attaching if you really want, but i have found that this tiny raw edge is virtually unnoticeable (and believe me, i notice everything!) and is definitely less bulky.

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serge the free edge of the binding together at the overlap.

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from the outside, press the binding strip up  then fold it over the edge to the inside; the edge of your top should be encased in the binding, not folded over in any way. pin the binding in place all around the neckline then twin needle top stitch either directly on the binding strip or just below as i have done here. i find that stitching on the binding is a little harder to do evenly, and works best on thinner knits. if we’re close to medium weight i would stitch outside the binding.

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give it all a press and admire your handiwork!

note: if you want a cleaner finish on the inside, you can turn the binding strip under (from the inside) before topstitching. just make sure you calculate the right width for the binding.

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this gal is super pleased with her top and wore it all day beginning the second it came out of the sewing machine, and was mad at me this morning when, for the second day in a row!, i did not have it washed so she could wear it to school. which reminds me… i should really go do some laundry…

—lisa g.

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5 thoughts on “how to attach a narrow binding for knitwear

  1. Susan

    Great tutorial Lisa — I love doing knit bindings like this. It must be quite gratifying for you that your daughter wants to wear her new shirt so badly! :)

    Reply
    1. lisa g Post author

      thanks! all the kiddos just adore my sewing. every time i bring home new fabric i am pummeled with questions: “is it for me????”

      Reply
  2. Pingback: chevron shift | notes from a mad housewife

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