Binding is an attractive way to decorate leotards and swimsuits as it adds a pop of color and interest. You can modify most leotard patterns to substitute binding for the neck or armholes with a few simple steps from this binding leotards and swimsuits tutorial.
You can certainly use this technique for leg holes as well but you may find a few complaints about comfort. Leg holes generally sit firmly and comfortably using the regular elastic method (Read how to sew elastic in leotards)
Binding Leotards and Swimwear
Binding Leotards – Before you start
Check if your pattern has a binding option. If your pattern doesn’t already have binding then check the seam allowances and cut them off if necessary. Most of my leotard patterns which have a turned over elastic neck have a 3/8 inch (1cm) seam allowance.
Here are some of my bestselling leotard patterns: SHOP LEOTARD PATTERNS
Binding Leotards – Instructions
Cut the elastic according to the pattern instructions and cut the binding the same length. The binding should be 1 3/4 inch (4.5cm) wide.
If you are sewing binding to an enclosed round area like the neck, then sew both your binding and elastic in a loop before you start and mark them in quarters.
Divide your garment neck into quarters and match to the quarter marks on the binding.
With RIGHT sides together, baste the binding to the garment edge matching any marks. Use a long straight stitch and stretch as you sew. The stitches may look a little loopy but this will be hidden in the construction.
Place the elastic on top of the binding close to the edge. Match any markings indicated in the pattern instructions.
Zig-zag along the middle of the elastic through all layers. As a general rule, the elastic will be just slightly smaller than the binding so you will stretch it between the marks as you sew.
With your garment RIGHT side up, fold the binding up and over the elastic to the back.
Try and get it nice and tight and pin it in place. Vertical pinning holds it the best. The tighter you can get it, the more professional your finished binding will look.
As you get more experienced you may find that it is easier to wrap the binding and sew without pinning. But if you are a beginner then you will get the best results by using pins and then hand basting before you machine stitch.
See how it looks on the back. Don’t worry about how wide the binding is at the back as we will cut any excess later.
On the RIGHT side of the garment, stitch a small zig-zag close to the edge of the binding. It is important you use a stretch stitch. Don’t be tempted to use straight stitches as they never look neat and won’t stretch enough.
If you use matching colored cotton these tiny zig-zag stitches will be almost invisible. They will also stop the binding from overstretching and be durable.
Experienced sewers may use a twin needle instead.
Turn your garment to the wrong side and cut the excess binding. Use a small pointed pair of scissors to get close to the stitching and to minimize the risk of accidentally cutting a hole. I always find that large scissors make it hard to get a neat edge that is close to the stitches.
And there you have your finished binding! Use contrast colors for maximum impact.