Bound Neckline Tutorial

Posted on: 2 December, 07

Applying binding to a neckline is easy, but it does take some practice.  For new techniques, it is a good idea to practice on scraps first.  It is much less frustrating and intimidating to mess up on scraps instead of that beloved fabric you saved for a special project. 

The binding width will be determined by the seam allowance used.  For the commonly used 1/4 inch seam allowance, the binding needs to 1 1/2 inches wide.  Determining the length is more subjective.  You must take into account how stretchy the binding fabric is.  Ideally, it should have at 25% stretch.  The binding should be between 75% and 85% of the length of the edge to be bound.  Some people use a 2/3 ratio.  See, it is subjective.  If the binding is too short, it will cause the edge to gather.  If the binding is too long, the edge will gape.  This is where playing with scraps will save you lots of grief. 

Once you have determined the length, sew the two short ends together, forming a circle.  Quarter mark the binding and the opening with pins.  Place the right side of the binding to the wrong side of the opening.  It seems counterintuitive, but it will work.  Pin the binding to the opening, matching the quarter marks.  Stitch with a narrow, long zig zag stitch, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  The binding should be stretched slightly to fit the opening.  Stitching on the sewing machine, as opposed to the serger, gives a nice, smooth edge around which to wrap the binding. 

Lightly press the binding towards the seam allowance.  Fold the raw edge to just meet the raw edge of the seam allowance. Lightly press or pin in place. 

Wrap the binding over the seam allowance, bringing it to the right side of the opening.  The folded edge should just cover the zig zag stitching.  You may want to pin the binding in place. 

There are several options for the final stitching line.  A longer straight stitch may be used.  A longer, very narrow zig zag will allow greater stretch for openings that will need lots of stretch, like tighter necklines.  A cover stitch provides a more “ready to wear” look.  A twin needle will achieve a similar look.  For the twin needle, I recommend using wooly nylon in the bobbin to give greater stretch.  A decorative stitch is a great way to add a little pizzazz.  However, a dense decorative stitch will reduce the degree of stretch.  If the opening stretches out during sewing, a bit of steam will often coax it back into shape. 

Ribbing is the obvious choice for binding fabric.  However, any knit with ample stretch will work.  Slippery knits are not for the faint of heart.  You will need lots of pins and patience.  Bulkier knits will need to be cut slightly wider to allow for the fatter folds.  Velours can be very pretty for binding, but wrestling all that bulk takes some practice.  I save my long narrow scraps of knit to use as binding on future projects. 

11 Responses to "Bound Neckline Tutorial"

It’s great to see how everyone does things. When not using my CS machine, I’ll do something similar but I start from the front and fold over to the back. That way there’s no stitches on the front to cover (or miss, in my case!) and I can trim the excess binding next to the stitches on the back.

THANK you for sharing this! Just what I needed as I have an Ottobre gathered neck T shirt all cut out and ready to assemble.

I always enjoy your blog and the awesome baby and doll clothes you make.

I will bookmark this entry for future reference!

Lynda in LV

Excellent tutorial Teri! 🙂

Talk about timing! I am in the middle of a dress and I haven’t been able to quite get this part right.


Love your version. I do it like Debbie Cook above. thanks for sharing!

with friendship,

Thanks for the tutorial. I’ve done these before but never pressed the seam allowance like you do. That made it so easy.

[…] wip I took out the neckline binding that I did incorrectly shown here and am working through this tutorial so kindly sent to me from a friendly fellow sewing blogger, though it did take me multiple […]

I finished it! THANK YOU again for sharing this…I took pictures and posted them as well… 🙂

Great tutorial. I too have done this just like Debbie Cook says, starting on the right side (right sides to right sides), then fold over to the back and top stitch it down with a twin needle from the right side, then finally trim away the excess binding on the back. I just got a serger with cover stitch capabilities though, so from now on, I’ll probably cover stitch such edgings. I love using such bindings, on home sewn items, it really gives it a professional and nicely finished look, that is for sure! I’ve even used it on home sewn panties, using the white edges of a 4-way stretch print, making panties and boxers with no elastic at all. Very comfortable to wear!

Thank you so much for this tutorial!

I just made a blouse and was having a REALLY hard time with the neckline. This was sooo helpful!

[…] a very fine pictorial demonstration of what you want to achieve here and if you’ve never done a bound neckline before, it’s worth checking […]

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