Knit binding is essential when you are sewing t-shirts, dresses and tops. It finishes the raw edges of knit garments and keeps necks from stretching out. Knit garments can't use the same methods as woven fabrics that use bias tape on the necklines and armholes since it wouldn't stetch to get over the head.
Knit binding is important so the raw edges are hidden. Using knit bias means not only do you get a nice contrasting edge, but it looks professional and neat.
Without knit binding, necklines would stretch out and not survive numerous washes.
Here I will show you how to do one of the most common knit fabric bindings – a wrap binding. Look inside your cupboard at your t-shirts and you will be sure to find several examples of this type of binding being used.
Knit Binding Supplies
What you will need to bind a neckline:
- Stretch fabric machine needles – this will prevent skipped stitches. Ballpoint needles are best for knits with low stretch factors. Use stretch or jersey needles for higher stretch factor fabrics.
- Sewing machine
- Strong thread - a polyester good quality thread is best.
- Knit fabric – your binding should have the same or larger stretch factor as the item you are attaching to it. Ribbed knit is a common fabric used for knit bindings as it wears well and has a larger stretch factor.
Here I will show you how to bind the neck of a t-shirt.
Knit Binding Instructions
Step 1 - Preparation
With right sides together stitch your t-shirt to the point where it needs the neck binding. In some styles you will be stitching one shoulder and leaving the other open.
Step 2 - Cut the Binding
Cut a strip of fabric 1 ½ inches (3.8cm) wide and a length as indicated in the pattern. The binding will typically be shorter than the edge by at least 15%.
This will give you a finished binding or around ⅜ inch (1cm) which I think looks the nicest. Make sure the greatest direction of stretch goes across the binding. This is normally perpendicular to the selvage of the fabric.
Mark the center of the binding and the center of the edge you will be joining it to.
Step 3 - Pin
With right sides together, pin the binding to the edge while matching the center marks and ends. I like to place my pins vertically to the edges as it hold the tape in place nicely. If you have a long section to bind, place pins at even intervals.
Step 4 - Stitch The Seam
Stitch across the edge with a ⅜ (1cm) seam allowance using a stretch stitch. The most common stretch stitch is a narrow zig-zag with the settings W 0.5 and L2.5. You can't use a straight stitch as the stitches will pop when they stretch.
Further Reading: Sewing Stretch Fabric
Step 5 - Wrap
Flip your t-shirt over so it is wrong side up on your table. Wrap the bias tape up over the raw edge and fold it over. The folded edge should cover the row of stitches. Make sure it lies smoothly and is not pulled or wrinkled. Pin it in place.
Step 6 - Stitch
Now on the right side, stitch close to the open edge of the bias. This will catch in the underneath of the bias. Don’t run over your pins!
You can use the same stretch zig-zag stitch or a twin needle.
Twin needle or double needles, produce 2 rows of parallel straight stitches. Underneath you will see a zig-zag look. Many store-bought t-shirts use a similar stitch.
Here you can see the difference between the 2 stitches.
Step 8 - Trim
Turn the t-shirt to the back and trim the excess binding.
Step 9 - Finish
Turn your t-shirt the right way out and give it all a really good press. You’ll be surprised how much flatter your knit binding sits.
If your t-shirt was constructed sewing the one shoulder first, sew the second shoulder. To flatten the shoulder seam even further, push the seam allowance to one side and stitch a few straight stitches to hold it in place. You only need to stitch about ½ inch (12mm) from the edge.
Knit Binding - In Conclusion
Lovely knit binding is now done on your t-shirt! What are you planning on using your knit binding on? Please share below if you have any extra tips too.