Many of us have these binding plates for our machines. I have two for my Bernina and quite a few for my coverstitch machine and industrial zigzag (which also fit the Bernina) and two for my walking-foot machine. When I bought my first binder I was terrified to use it but, like the narrow-hem foot, once you get the hang of it they are so easy to use and give great results! Before we get started, please note that your machine must have attachment holes on the bed in order for you to use industrial-style binding plates. I can use these on my Bernina but not on my Pfaff so check your particular machine. Some machines use a special foot instead.
Yes, you can bind in the round but it can be pretty fiddly when using a knit – it’s not bad on placemats with cotton fabrics. You’ll need to insert the fabric before taking any stitches and then stop before you reach where you started so that you can join the ends and fold the edges under and stitch. This method has been filed in my Life’s Too Short folder. This is the type of thing I would do on a fine garment where I wouldn’t be using a binding plate in the first place.
On a surplice neckline you’ll sew the shoulder seams and then just bind from one edge to the other. On other necklines you will sew one shoulder seam only, bind the edge, then sew the remaining shoulder seam closed. This is how it’s done in RTW and it is perfectly acceptable.
There are basically three types of binders:
Double-Fold: Raw edges are folded under on the top and the bottom. The binding looks the same from both sides.
Single-Fold: The raw edge is folded under on top only. This is the type of binder used most often with a coverstitch machine as the bottom raw edge is encased by the looper threads.
Raw Edge: A raw edge binder is generally used to bind edges with a tape or other non-ravelling binding such as leather or ribbon. However, it can also be used with pre-folded bias tape.
The binder on the left is made for my Bernina along with the binding foot. Like all things Bernina I had to pay the big bucks for it – I think it was around $80 ten years ago. Then I discovered the wonderful world of Industrial Attachments! I purchased the binder on the right from my local industrial machine shop for under $20 and it works just as well as the Bernina binder and is available in many different widths. If a binding foot is not available for your machine you can have one made by your local mechanic or make your own! This involves buying an extra zigzag or open-toe foot and having the right toe cut off and then buffed smooth.
The binder used on my top makes a 1/4″ finished double-fold binding. This is the same binder I use on placemats. It works beautifully with knits especially if you cut them a smidgen wider than what the binder calls for. This causes the fabric to stretch a little as it passes through and allows the neckline to hug your body quite nicely.
The fabric I used is a polyester ribbed sweater knit from Glick Textiles. I save scraps of knits I think I might want to use as bindings (and they are the ONLY scraps I save!) because they can add such an interesting touch to a garment – that little extra something that can give you that expensive RTW look. As long as it’s an 1/8 yard or more it goes into the scrap bin.
Step 1: Cut your knit binding on the crossgrain (or direction of greatest stretch) to the width needed for your particular binder. My binder takes strips 1 1/8″ wide. If you buy an industrial binding plate the width will be stamped on the plate itself. That being said I often cut binding wider – for knits and bias wovens – as the width tends to decrease as it’s pulled through the attachment. You’ll need to experiment a little bit with scraps to find the right width for your particular fabric and project. I cut my knit 1 3/8″ wide on the crossgrain for this project. A rotary cutter and quilting ruler is perfect for this job!
Step 2: Angle cut one end of your strip and feed it into the binder before you attach it to your machine. You can use a pin or seam ripper to gently move it along.
Step 3: Attach binding plate and pull the folded binding under the presser foot. Change your needle position as desired and take a few stitches to secure the end. Here is where you want to make sure everything is even and folded properly before you stitch. A bad start will result in a poorly sewn binding.
Then feed your garment into the binder and watch your beautiful finished edge emerge!
With a double-fold binder your edge will look the same on both sides.
I’m going to be a copycat and insert my parting shot here! I could not resist because Ricki looks so cute here vying for my attention as I type. She is such a honey.