Binding tips

I’ve been trying to finish up some projects lately to get ready for #MeMadeMay.  If I’m going to wear something I’ve made everyday in May, I need to get busy!

The last thing I do to finish a project that has a neckline and armholes is to add the binding. If you buy a kit from Alabama Chanin it will include precut binding, but if you are going to make your own garment from scratch (or from an old T shirt), you will need to cut your own binding.

IMG_3932Alabama Chanin suggests you use a rotary cutter, cutting mat and a large plastic ruler to cut a 1 ¼ inch strip of fabric across the grain.  If you are using a full piece of Alabama Chanin’s organic cotton jersey fabric, the yardage is 60” wide.  You will need to cut two strips if you are binding both a neckline and armholes.  It’s best if you can use one continuous strip for each hole you are binding.  For my necklines, my strips are usually between 36 – 38” and for the armholes 21 – 24”.  And for what it’s worth, I don’t have a rotary cutter yet so I just use scissors.  I think it will be the next thing I buy because scissors just don’t make an even piece or a straight line.

Once your strips are cut, you will need to iron each strip in half lengthwise with the wrong sides facing each other.  You don’t want to stretch the fabric so rather than rubbing the iron across the fabric, I just press it down.  When I’ve finished ironing the strip, I like to wrap it around an old empty spool and pin it in place to let it cool.  Natalie shares an old ironing wive’s tale, “cool remembers, warm forgets.”

Try not to stretch it while you iron
“Cool Remembers, Warm Forgets”

Ideally you start in the center back of your neckline and pin in place encasing the raw fabric edge in your folded binding.  I like to use quilting clips.  When you’ve made it all the way around, you should overlap your strips ½ inch.  Don’t worry if your strip isn’t long enough, you can just add another strip, just remember to use the ½” overlap theory.

I actually took this picture to show off the pockets, which I love!

Finally, you use a stretch stitch to attach the binding.  The herringbone is my favorite.

This all sounds easy but my latest project was to make a corset out of an old T shirt.  I found a “Life is Good” organic cotton T-shirt at Goodwill and I had to rescue it!!  The only problem, the T shirt was only a size Large where I usually buy at least an XL and preferably a 3XL.  When I laid the corset pattern pieces on the T shirt I realized I was not going to be able to get two full strips of binding.  Also, the T shirt had side seams so the strips were only able about to be 30” long.  So, what to do?


I had to use the bottom edge of the T-shirt.  I had cut it off in my shirt prep and I had to dig it out of the scrap pile.  Ironically, it turned out good and it was already folded.  It was a little tricky to try and make sure it was the same width as the other strips – 5/8”.  Since the other pieces wouldn’t be long enough to go around the neckline, I decided to keep this piece in tact even though there would be a seam in it right in the middle.

I was afraid if I started in the center back the seam would end up right in front, so I started by pinning that seam on one of the shoulders.  That meant that my overlap ended up off center in the back but I don’t think it’s too obvious.  I think the shirt really does have “Good Karma”

Putting the pre-sewn seam on the shoulder
The presewn seam isn’t too obvious

I wanted to throw these comparison pictures in here as well.  I recently tweaked my corset pattern to raise the neckline.  I really like how it turned out – in the original pattern I need to wear a camisole under the corset if I don’t want a lot of cleavage!


Always remember, “Life is Good”