Beginner Sewing Series: Bands and Bindings

Hopefully you’ve been enjoying the beginners sewing blog series.  I’m Anna, and today I’m joining you with a blog about bands and bindings.  I know when I started sewing knit fabrics that bands were very intimidating.  After lots of practice, and different techniques I feel like I’ve gotten much better with them and I no longer shudder at having to do them.

Today I’m going to go over the few tricks that I’ve learned along the way with bands and bindings, so hopefully you can get the perfect neckband.  I’m going to start with doing a traditional binding.  I used the girls Deer Creek tunic pattern.  Terra has the option in this pattern to finish the neckline this way.

I always start bindings by ironing first to get the correct center crease and side creases.  A neck binding is folded and ironed just like a bias tape.  The long side of the fabric is folded with the wrong sides together (pictured below).

The next step is to unfold the binding and then bring each of the long sides in to the center crease with the wrong sides together (pictured below with one side folded in).  It’s then folded again so that the right sides are together again making it have 4 pieces of fabric sandwiched together.

After doing this step, the binding is unfolded completely and the short ends of the binding are placed with right sides together and sewn using the seam allowance called for in the pattern (pictured below).

Next, I always quarter both my binding and my neckline.  I align the sewn edges of the shoulder seams together to find the front and back center.  After, I align the two center clips matching up the raw edges of the neckline to find the quarter points of the neckline.  Then using these points, I align my binding with all 4 points on my neckline.  With a traditional binding, you’ll have the binding opened up flat and not folded in any way when you sew it onto the neckline.

There’s one thing that I’ve found that helps me whenever I attach bindings, or bands, and that is that I then go ahead and half those quarter points again.  I stretch the areas between the quarter points so that now I have 8 clips instead of just the 4.  For me it helps to get an even more even neckline.  I like that it’s now secure in 8 spots rather than just the 4.

Now comes the sewing, the one tough thing to do is to make sure that you’re not stretching the neckline of the shirt and that you’re only stretching the binding.  This can be really hard.  I have issues with this sometimes if I’m distracted by kids or just not paying attention.  For me, I find it easier to have the garment inside out with the band on the bottom.  This way it helps me to see the garment and if I’m stretching it out.  Either way will work for sewing it on, but this is the way that works best for me.  I used my sewing machine to sew on the binding in the next picture using a triple stitch and the seam allowance noted in the pattern.

After sewing on the binding, it’s folded back into its shape that you ironed in the first few steps with the raw edges sandwiched in the center.  The seam allowance is also sandwiched in as well to give a nice clean finish.

The binding can now be sewn along the edge using a twin needle, coverstitch, or even a regular ballpoint needle.  I used my regular sewing machine with a ballpoint needle at a longer stitch length (4.0) so that the stitches won’t pop, but it still gives it a nice clean look.

Bands have some similar techniques to bindings with just a few changes.  A band is sewn with the short sides right sides together to make a loop (pictured below), and then folded in half with the raw edges of the long sides together.

I then use the same techniques that I used above with the bindings to attach the band to the opening by quartering the neckline and the band, and then halving those again to make it into eighths.  The band is then attached to the opening, so you’re sewing through three pieces of fabric with all the raw edges aligning.

After sewing on the band, you’ll want to flip the band up and iron using lots of steam which will get the band to go back to it’s original state.  Sometimes stretch the band and sewing it on can make it wavy, or appear stretched out.  The steam can help it to recover back.

As you can see from the picture, a band will have the sewn edge exposed inside the garment.  Some people choose to sew down the seam allowance, or to top stitch the seam allowance so that it stays lying flat against the inside of the garment.  Again, this can be done several different way either with a coverstitch machine, or with your regular sewing machine using a twin needle or regular needle.

You can see in the above picture that the blue stitching has gone through the seam allowance onto the wrong side of the garment to hold the seam allowance in place.  This can also help to keep the right side of the garment from puckering, and gives it more of a polished look when it’s worn.

There’s one other type of binding that I want to mention.  Terra has it listed as a clean finish binding in the Key West tank pattern.  I’ve personally referred to it as a “faux” binding.  A band is sewn on either the right or wrong side of the opening (it will depend on the pattern that you’re working on, as I’ve seen it both ways) and then folded over the seam allowance and top stitched down to give the appearance of a binding.

                                                                                                   

I personally love the finished look that a binding gives.  If a pattern offers a binding, I tend to do them if I have the extra time.  The ease of a band definitely comes in handy though, and on many days this is what I choose.

Hopefully you learned a few things by joining me today.  Bands and bindings were definitely intimidating when I first started sewing clothing.  As I’ve gotten more and more practice they’ve become much easier.  I’m hoping that they just get easier and easier for you in your sewing journey, and I hope I’ve given you a few tips or tricks to help you.

-Anna

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