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Knit Bindings

Stefanie | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I am very frustrated with applying crosswise cut knit bindings to a knit. I keep getting rippling and stretching out of shape. What can I do to get things to lie flat?

I made dress 116 from Burda Kids Spring 2004 – a halter dress with binding straps. It lies flat in front but stretched out of shape on the back. Is there anything I can do to fix this? How could I have prevented it? Help.

The binding is a double fold strip of crossgrain knit applied in one pass sandwiching the dress fabric between the strip. It makes a very narrow binding of self-fabric.

Edited 5/4/2004 4:20 pm ET by MNmom3


  1. ElonaM | | #1

    Stefanie, take a look at this nice little video clip from Threads. It is very helpful on this topic.


    1. Stefanie | | #2

      It is a good clip but the type of binding I am having trouble with is a bit different. It is a doublefolded strip of self-fabric. I have managed to do this binding on more stable knits but with stretchier fabrics, it just pulls everything out of shape. If I stretch the binding as per clip style bindings, it ripples terribly and still stretches out of shape. This treatment is found in some Burda WOF patterns - take strip of fabric, press in half, then open and press outer long edges in toward middle. Fold in half so both cut edges are inside now in a long double-folded strip. Apply to edge in 1:1 ratio. It is more like a quilt binding but usually the instructions have you sew it on in one pass and both sides are the same width. I use the edgestitch foot to do this.


      1. ElonaM | | #3

        Wow, that one-pass thing would, I think, be very hard to control unless you have commercial equipement.

        With lighter-weight, stretchier knits, I would think the home sewist would have more control using the the video clip technique. You might be able to do the single pass by dint of careful shaping with steam, plus hand-basting (!). It will be very hard, otherwise, to avoid distortion.

      2. SEWSERIOU1 | | #4

        I have to agree that a one-pass shot at this would be almost impossible to do.  I usually sew a binding in at least 2 steps because the more I sew it the better it behaves. 

        I am also wondering if your binding is too short.  That will sometimes cause a lot of rippling.  If you don't want to use the method in the video of attaching the binding, why not at least use the method for determining how long your binding should be?  That has been the biggest help to me when using self-fabric bindings as used in the video.

        1. Stefanie | | #5

          The binding did work out to be the right length for the back. For the front of the dress, it went on to become straps, so that was not an issue there. The pattern directions do call for diagonal basting the binding to dress. I think the presser foot just stretched both binding and dress fabric as it sewed. I wonder if using a stabilizer would help. In this case, the dress edge does not need to stretch over the head. But I have also seen this technique for tshirts and there it would be a factor perhaps - although I think most of those have a keyhole back opening now that I think about it. Would a strip of fusible web or bias staytape work then? Or sewing over a strip of paper?

          My daughter also has a similar RTW dress and the binding is sewn on in one pass with the serger coverstitch.

          I am looking at Stretch and Sew City Tees pattern and it calls for French trim neck finish which would be in two passes as per video but give similar results. Perhaps I will just use that instead when the fabric is stretchy. It just makes me curious as to how good results are to be found using the pattern techniques in Burda. Perhaps I will just have to play with samples.


          1. ElonaM | | #6

            Oh, the pattern techniques in Burda! Although the fit and design of Burda garments is generally superb, the directions are notorious for being sketchy, because they assume that you've done quite a bit of sewing.

            That said, I never take a pattern's instructions at face value. You have to use the technique that is best for what you have at hand. Usually, doing one or two samples is involved, even for those of us who have been doing it for dog' ages.

            For example, your pattern sounds as though it has a looong edge to bind. If I were doing it, I'd assume that once I get past the midpoint, I would to have LOTS of distortion if I just kept sewing in the same direction, using the same technique. It's necessary to measure, calculate, pin, and kind of manipulate or shape the fabrics as you work.

          2. Stefanie | | #7

            Good point - I did consider that might be useful. Yes, it is a long bound edge going all around the back of the dress and up the sides.

            I would like to save this dress, but not sure what to do. I'm hesistant to rip off the binding again. Might just put in some type of elastic to snug it up. But I can't see making this design again without a better understanding of how to bind that edge. Too bad because it is the *only* interesting pattern I could find for a knit dress in that size range.

            I will just do something else for tshirt necklines. I just thought it must be a common technique I guess but am finding it is not used by much of anyone.


          3. SewNancy | | #10

            I will also chime in here and agree that Burda has lousy instructions.  I never use them!  All of the pattern companies seem to use old, outdated instructions that are never used in the industry.  They make it very difficult to make home sew look like ready to wear.  Try out different techniques on samples and I agree that it is impossible to do the one pass attachment with a thin stretchy material.  I have had trouble making machine hems on knits until I found light weight tear away to keep it stable.  Works well.


  2. GALEY | | #8

    I have enjoyed the same frustration with bindings on knits.  This month I successfully altered two rtw garments, one an interlock knit sundress and the other a chiffon over knit(tricot) prom dress that have the same binding you described.  I used a wire tube turner about 12 inches long with a tiny self-closing hook on one end and an approx. 1" ring on the other to pull through l/2" wide clear elastic.  I opened the binding only inside the center back and at the junction of the front/back straps.  I tied a knot in the elastic to hook on to and found that the length of the wire allowed the entire straps to be gathered.  Be sure to adjust the fullness as you pull, so the finished product will not be gathered, and, of course, stitch in the ditch to anchor the elastic.  Some tiny ease gathering may be visible, but not on the wearer. If any ease is unacceptable, you could hand or machine baste the elastic either to one edge of the binding with no stretch or possibly within the seam line on the garment. One of my customers was a slender size 1 and her dress hung open too much.  The other was a well-endowed size 8 and her dress also hung open too much.  Both were pleased.  Also, Vogue patterns that I used in the 60's usually required that curved bindings of any size be shaped and steamed before hand basting, so that is a good idea.  A personal note:  I sewed the first garment I wore to school sixty years ago.  Today my delight is sewing wedding gowns, ball gowns, prom dresses and mardi gras costumes--specialty fabrics, trims and new techniques thrill me.

    1. Stefanie | | #9

      That is pretty slick! Thanks. I had already fixed it rather inelegantly using an elastic cord and zigzagging over it to create a gathered top in the back. But next time I will try that.

      Thanks again.


      1. TerryToronto | | #11

        The other possibility (besides clear elastic which is great) is to use a 1 inch strip of tricot or knit interfacing on the edges before applying the binding. This can help stabilize the edge without adding stiffness or bulk.

        1. SewNancy | | #12

          Are you talking about iron on interfacing?


          1. TerryToronto | | #13

            Yes. The idea is to use a strip (1 inch or so) of knit interfacing as a "support" as it were for the edge. It won't stop all stretch, but will help to prevent the worst of it. Regards, Terry

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