how to make an easy and pretty binding

This “how-to” details how I sew binding on stuff – like quilts, or my little mystery project here. This is also how I sew things like cuffs or collars (or sleeves on shirts, if they consist of a rectangle folded in half, like on my beach-blouse). It’s a good technique for making sure the stitching is an even distance from the edge on both the front and the back side of your project, and finally, it requires only one seam, and no stitching in the ditch-ing (which some people try to avoid at all costs).

I often make my own binding, mostly because I’m too impatient or lazy to make sure I have store-bought binding on hand, but also because it is fun to be able to choose any fabric and color you want. The first few steps are shown making  binding, but the concept is the same for cuffs, collars, etc. I usually don’t make proper bias binding because it takes more time and effort. I’d certainly recommend it however, if your project calls for bias binding for necklines, armholes, or other curvy parts. The bias binding is just much more forgiving, going around curves.

Ok, let’s start! This is what the end result will look like:

This is what you will need:

• A strip of fabric the length of your project + 2″ for overlap, by 4x the width of the finished binding. You might need to join several strips together to get your length. You’ll get the best result using a fabric that irons well and holds creases, such as cotton, cotton/poly blends, or linens.
• Pins
• Needle and thread for basting
• Edgestitch foot for your sewing machine (optional)

*   *   *

How-to: easy and pretty binding

Step 1: Fold your strip of fabric in half, and iron well.

Step 2: Open up your ironed strip, and fold the lower half in to match the center crease. Take care to not iron the center crease.

Step 3: With the strip of fabric folded along the center crease, and the lower half folded in on itself (see upper left corner), iron to further set the creases. Fold the lower layer of the binding over the top layer of the binding. This is true for collars and cuffs for shirts as well.

Step 4: Unfold the lower layer, and tuck it under the upper layer fold. Your strip of fabric/cuff/collar should now look like this.

Folding the lower layer over the top layer in this way accomplishes two things. First, it’s a lot easier than trying to match up the two sides individually, and the two edges of your binding are now parallel. Second, it makes the lower layer protrude just a little, meaning that you’ll easily catch the fabric on the underside as well (that has often been a problem for me at least, turning my work over only to find gaps where the stitching didn’t catch the binding).

Step 5: Pin your binding/collar/cuff down.

Step 6: Baste in place.

Basting might seem unnecessary, but it will allow you to fine-tune the placement of the binding, as well as hold everything in place and avoid bulky pins while sewing. It takes a little extra time, but it really is worth it. This is also the trickiest step, as you should take care to adjust and line up the back and the front edges of the binding to each other. The more closely they are lined up, the more even and parallel the stitches will be to the edges of the binding (particularly the back of your project).

Step 7: Edgestitch. If you have an edgestitching foot for your machine, wonderful. If not, just sew as close to the edge as you can, and take it nice and slow. Cut off the knots of your basting thread before you start, so you don’t end up sewing through them.

Step 8: Admire your work.

*   *   *

Now, that wasn’t that difficult, was it? Please let me know if you have any questions, how this technique works out for you, and feel free to link to any projects using this method!


6 thoughts on “how to make an easy and pretty binding”

  1. Step three is a winner! Thank you. I also need the reminder about careful hand basting before machine stitching all layers. Had pretty much given up and reverted to slip stitching by had one of the layers as I could never get the layers lined up well enough to machine stitcb

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