How to bind knit edges: the ultimate guide

how to bind knit edges

Binding has a special place in my heart. I find that binding is often the neatest, tidiest, most professional looking finish on openings like necklines and armholes. I’ll always swap a facing for a binding when I can.

Having grown up sewing almost entirely with wovens, it wasn’t until I really got into knits a few years back that I discovered the many binding options out there when working with these special fabrics. Now I use knit bindings all the time.

In honor of Moneta Month, I wanted to show you several methods you could use to substitute bound edges on your Moneta.

Straight out of the envelope, Moneta is finished with either a lining for the sleeveless version (we have a video to show you how), or a simple hemmed finish.

Both of these are great finishes that work well with the design, but binding gives you a few more options. You might prefer the look of binding, you might find it helps if your fabric is a little saggy, or you might want to use it to add a little contrasting color to your edges.

In this article, I will detail 4 different ways you can use strips of knit fabric to finish edges on knit garments, including 1 band method and 3 different binding methods.

Bands vs. Binding

how to bind knit edges

how to bind knit edges

First, let’s clear up a little terminology.

A band is a length of fabric that’s folded in half and stitched into an opening. The seam allowance is turned to the wrong side. If you look at any t-shirt you own, it will probably have a band around the neck. It is usually sewn in the round. The grey bodice above has a band.

A binding has a similar function, but looks more like the bias binding you’d find on a woven garment. All the seam allowances are tucked inside and hidden. In knitwear, it is usually not sewn in the round. Instead, one seam is left open (such as a shoulder seam), the binding is sewn to the edge, then the remaining seam and binding are closed at the same time. The brown bodice below has binding.

Both of these finishes serve the same purpose. They cover up the raw edge of a circular opening and give you a neat finish. We’re going to cover both of these methods, since they are usually interchangeable.


A knit band is a pretty common treatment. You’ll see it on almost any t-shirt neckline, but it can also be used on other types of garments or in armholes.

Because armhole curves tend to be deep curves, I like to keep bands in this area narrow, perhaps 3/8″ or less when finished. This will help to prevent gaping.

how to bind knit edges

Again, bands are sewn in the round. That means that the opening is already sewn into a complete circle, the band is also sewn in a circle, and then the band is sewn into the neckline in a continuous line of stitching.

The downside to this is that the band must be cut and constructed at a specific width before sewing it into the opening. It usually needs to be a little smaller than the opening to prevent gaping, but if it’s too small, you get puckering.

The challenging thing is that it’s hard to know exactly how much smaller to cut it because every knit fabric is a little different. My rules of thumb are these: (1) Cut the band about 10% smaller than the opening to start, and (2) pin it to the opening and check the fit before you sew.

The worst case scenario is that you have to take it out and sew it again.

Self Fabric Band

How to:


1) Measure the opening, such as the neckline or armhole. Use the following formula to determine the length of your neckband piece: Length of neckband = length of opening x 0.9


2) Decide on a finished width for your band. For tight curves or small bands, choose 3/8 inch. For wider neckbands, choose 1/2 or 5/8 inch. Use the following formula to calculate the size of the neckband piece you will cut. Neckband piece width = (finished width + 3/8″ seam allowance) x 2. Draw a rectangle using the two measurements you calculated above.


4) Find the lengthwise center of this piece. Draw a point 3/8 inches from each widthwise edge along this line.


5) Connect this point to the corners of your rectangle. This divet in the pattern piece will help the band conform to the shape of your neck a bit more. Cut this piece from your fabric.


7) With right sides together, stitch the short ends of the band together.


8) Fold the band in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together.


9) With right sides together and raw edges aligned, pin the band to the opening, aligning the seam with a shoulder seam or center back seam. Check the fit of the band (see the troubleshooting section below) before stitching the band to the opening using an overlock.


10) Turn the seam allowance of the band to the inside.


Before you sew, always carefully pin the band into the neckline. Use plenty of pins to get the band seated in the neckline as much as possible.


Does your neckband gape at the shoulders and seem to stand straight up? That means your band is too large. Trim it down and try again before sewing it in.


Is it making the garment pucker and pull towards the neck? That means it’s too small. Cut a new band that’s a little larger.


Binding is basically just like a bias tape binding on a woven garment, at least in terms of the various ways it can be applied.




It can be sewn and turned to the inside like a facing (clean finish binding); turned to the outside (seam covering binding); or wrapped around the raw edge (wrapped binding).


Binding is usually sewn into an opening before it’s fully closed. For example, if you’re sewing a neckline, leave one shoulder seam open, apply the binding, then close up the shoulder seam. The binding will be enclosed at the same time.



Use a bar tack to hold the seam allowance of the binding down. This makes it less conspicuous from the outside.

The great thing about binding is that it doesn’t need to be cut to a specific size before you sew.

For each of these methods, we’ll create binding with a finished width of 3/8 inch and seam allowances of 3/8 inch.

Clean finish binding


1) Cut a strip of fabric 1 1/2 inches wide. It should be longer than the opening you are sewing it to.


2) Fold the binding in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.


3) With right sides together, stitch the binding to the edge.


4) With right sides together, stitch the remaining seam closed, also closing the binding. Reinforce with a bar tack.


5) Turn the binding to the inside of the garment, folding along the seamline.


6) Edgestitch the band in place (see below for options).

Seam covering binding


1) Cut a strip of fabric 1 1/2 inches wide. It should be longer than the opening you are sewing it to.


2) Fold the binding in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.


3) With right side of the binding facing the wrong side of the garment, stitch the binding to the edge.

how to bind knit edges

4) Turn the binding to the right side of the garment, folding along the seamline. Press lightly.

how to bind knit edges

5) Edgestitch the binding in place (see below for options).

how to bind knit edges

6) With right sides together, stitch the remaining seam closed, also closing the binding. Reinforce with a bar tack.

Wrapped binding

how to bind knit edges

1) Cut a strip of fabric 1 1/2 inches wide. It should be longer than the opening you are sewing it to.

how to bind knit edges

2) Fold the binding in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Press to form a crease.

how to bind knit edges

3) Fold the lengthwise edges toward the center and press to form two more creases. If you have sewn with bias tape, this should look familiar.

how to bind knit edges

4) Open up the binding. With the right side of the binding facing the wrong side of the garment, stitch the binding to the edge using a 3/8 inch seam allowance.


5) Wrap the binding along the raw edge, tucking the raw edge of the binding beneath.

how to bind knit edges

6) On the right side, edgestitch the remaining fold of the binding in place. Edgestitching on the right side of the garment means you do not have to worry about catching the edge perfectly on the underside. (see below for edgestitching options).


With right sides together, stitch the remaining seam closed, also closing the binding.



If you have a coverstitch machine, edgestitching is no big deal. You can just use the chainstitch feature to edgestitch your binding in place.


If you don’t, try edgestitching with a twin needle. It will allow your binding to stretch and imiitates the look of a coverstitch.


Or, use a single needle and stitch in place with a straight stitch (for openings that don’t require a lot of stretch) or a very narrow (0.2mm wide) zigzag stitch. If you like the look of a straight stitch but are worried about your thread breaking, try stretch thread, which has built in elasticity.

Discussion time!

So now we’ve covered 4 ways to finish: a band, a clean finish binding, a seam covering binding, and a wrapped binding. We’ve also talked about troubleshooting band necklines, and how to edgestitch your knits.

What’s your favorite way to finish knit edges? Do you like bindings, bands, linings, or another method?

You might also be interested in:

  • The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits: Written by our friend Alsyon Clair, our book on knits covers a wide range of techniques for sewing knit fabrics – with a serger or without.

  • Moneta pattern: Shown above is the bodice for Moneta, one of our all-time best-selling patterns.

  • Mabel pattern: Want something even simpler to try out knit techniques? Mabel is fast, simple, and fun.

Like what you read here? Subscribe to our blog via email so you don’t skip a stitch! And sign up for our weekly Snippets email for even more sewing tips and tricks.

Now hiring! Technical Writer/Illustrator and Project Manager


We have two positions currently open here in Portland, OR. One is part time and one is a freelance position. Please take a look and pass this on to anyone you think might be interested!

Technical Writer/Illustrator (part time) – Portland, OR

Do you geek out over clothing construction? Are you passionate about sharing your knowledge with others? Do you want to bring sewing into more homes and lives?

Join us as a Technical Writer/Illustrator and help us create the kind of instructions that get people feeling excited and empowered about sewing. We’re looking for someone with strong apparel construction knowledge, great written communication skills, and the ability to create high quality vector illustrations.

This position begins at approximately half-time, with flexibility.

You can read more about the position and how to apply here.

Project Manager (freelance) – Portland, OR

We are also seeking a freelance Project Manager to help keep our production schedules running smoothly. If you are nerdy about designing processes, enjoy problem solving, and can keep teammates in line with grace and humor, we want to hear from you.

We are looking for a freelancer with 3-5 years of project management experience who is able to mostly work remotely with occasional face to face meetings in Portland, OR.

You can read more about the position and how to apply here.


How to Prevent DIY Anxiety


Whether you are a seasoned sewist or still learning, you may experience something I call DIY Anxiety from time to time.

Symptoms of DIY Anxiety include, but are not limited to: cold sweats, yelling at inanimate objects, reverting to childhood behaviors, and fabric-related nightmares. Loved ones may become concerned when you are found crying on a pile of what was supposed to be a pencil skirt.

Today, we have a guest post from Annaliese Fidgeon, a sewist who lives in Seattle and blogs at a devoted novice. Annaliese had some great advice for those who feel like they’re losing steam with their sewing, and I wanted to share it with you today. -Sarai

Fortunately, DIY Anxiety can be prevented with self-awareness and discipline. Here are some suggestions for keeping DIY Anxiety at bay.

Not enjoying yourself? STOP.

Think I was joking about the crying bit above? I was not.

I suspect most crafters cry at some point during a project. When you put in the extra effort to DIY, you are inevitably going to have some feeling of affection towards your project.

On top of that, we’re inundated with images of flawless homes, crafts, and meals from lifestyle blogs, the Food Network, and Pinterest. It’s so easy for expectations to fly off the charts before reality throws you back down to Earth.

When you start getting tired, you’re going to make more dumb mistakes. Breaks are key.

That’s not to say that you should give up at the first signs of frustration. Sewing is hard work, period. You’ll spend countless hours ripping out stitches only to make the same mistake again. And sometimes things just don’t work for whatever reason (that reason might be that you only meant to clip off a loose thread, but also trimmed a good chunk off the sleeve).

You will be upset. Then, you might scrap it and make something else that ends up great because you learned from your mistakes. Failing is learning. Regardless, if whatever you’re doing starts to feel less like a puzzle and more like misery, just sleep on it. It will be there tomorrow.


Learn with your hands.

If you want to learn to sew or advance your skills, don’t start by trying to understand it all now, just sew.

You might make some spectacularly ugly things and that is great. I used to be ashamed of what I made as a teenager. For example, my prom dress was green camo with pink tulle peeking out the hem (it was the early 2000’s). Even though I still cringe when I look at those photos, I did learn to work with a lot of different fabrics during that time. My naiveté was a boon because I didn’t know what fabrics were harder to work with and I didn’t care. I was a self-absorbed teenager and I was going to make whatever I wanted.

Now, with my adult “wisdom,” I’ll sometimes buy a few yards of a great fabric and actually be afraid to use it. What if I cut it out wrong? Will I be able to rip out a seam without fraying the entire edge? What if I just don’t like it? Worrying is more wasteful than trying. Whether or not a project is a success, you are going to be training your sewing muscles, so jump in.

Don’t judge and don’t compare.

I hate when people scoff at using quilting fabric for apparel. Sure, it’s not always ideal, but the whole point of sewing is to use your creativity to make something unique.

I’ve made plenty of great and not-so-great garments using fabric a pattern wasn’t meant for. Sewing experience is the best way to learn. Not to mention, it’s very easy to sit on your high horse if you have access to apparel fabric stores (or actually know what pique is so you can buy it online). Judgment will always come back to bite you because you’ll start becoming hard on yourself since you’re the one who sees all your mistakes.

Relatedly, comparing your projects to all the other ones online won’t keep you motivated to continue learning. It is absolutely ok to want to become better at sewing and drooling over beautiful sewing blogs for inspiration, that’s half the fun. But remember, many many many bloggers are professionals. Even if their blog started out as Average Joe Sews, once advertisers, partnerships, and professional photography equipment get involved, the outcomes are going to be decidedly less average and much more exceptional.

If professionals make you feel inadequate but you still want to see what a sewing pattern looks like finished, try doing a Google Image search for the pattern you are considering and looking for “average” photos—dark images, wrinkles in the garment, a refrigerator in the background, and other indications the sewist has a day job, too.

P.S. Tilly and the Buttons has some good advice for working with quilting cottons.

Don’t use sewing as another way you don’t add up.

Most people don’t sew. You already have a skill (or are learning a skill) most other people don’t have. Think about how much freedom that gives you to add pockets to a skirt, embellish a thrift shop find, get a discount on a damaged shirt and go home and fix the split seam yourself (I have done this plenty of times), or make a knockoff dress you saw in a magazine. These are all things you can do now that many people only wish they could do. Try reminding yourself of this when something goes epically wrong.

Think about what you want from sewing

Once you tell people you sew, the requests will roll in: Will you hem my jeans? Can I pay you $20 to make me a dress? Where do you sell your clothes? When are you going to try out for Project Runway?

Personally, I prefer not to capitalize on my hobbies and that is hard for some people to understand. I do have a tendency to say yes too often, and I feel like a jerk if I say no to a friend or co-worker’s alteration requests. But, if I say yes when I want to say no, I only end up resentful.

On the other hand, if you do want to end up the next Etsy success story, you have to treat it like the business it is. Ask anyone who runs a small business how many hours they put in each week and how long it took to turn a profit. Even if it’s a business you run in your spare time, it is hard, hard work.

And remember, just because someone else thinks you could make a Spring Collection doesn’t mean you would get satisfaction from it, so listen to that little voice in your heart. Have an idea of what you want to get out of your hobby and it will be much easier to choose the opportunities you take advantage of. That way, you don’t spend a bunch of money and time making a collection of shorts only to then realize you don’t ever wear shorts (not that I know anything about that).

Similar to the common cold, DIY Anxiety is not something that can be cured. You will face it from time to time no matter what precautions you take. When you notice symptoms, a remedy of rest, clear fluids (vodka counts), and a dose of reality will get you back into that sewing chair like a bad ass.

Which of these causes of DIY Anxiety do you experience most?


Pattern of the Month: Moneta


I’m a little late hopping on this, but our Pattern of the Month is… Moneta!

I’m actually glad to be a little behind schedule, because I just discovered that Moneta is currently on the cover of Threads Magazine! Have you seen it? I actually had no idea.


Someone mentioned that the skirt looks very full on the cover. My guess is that there is some support beneath it, maybe a crinoline or something. What do you think? Looks rather crisp for a knit, but quite lovely.

By the way, one of the reasons we’re a little behind is that we’re planning some blog changes in the coming weeks, and I’m getting prepped and ready for that. Pretty fun and exciting, but also… WOW it’s a lot of work.

The blog is getting a completely updated look next month (fingers crossed), plus a new team member contributing, plus we’ll be posting more tutorials soon. I can’t wait.

Get 20% off with code MONETAMONTH

Use code MONETAMONTH at checkout to get 20% off on this pattern through the end of the month.


Wardrobe Architect – Plan Your Sewing!


This post is part of the Wardrobe Architect 2015 series, led by Kristen, our patternmaker. Read more about it here and join the fun!

Now that you’ve done the messy work of cleaning out your closet, we’re going to spend March identifying the holes in your capsule wardrobe and planning sewing projects.

In the meantime, if you absolutely know you need a new pair of pants because you finally donated the pair that you wore all the time even though they made you unhappy, don’t be afraid to get a jumpstart on sewing. There are some things you’ll just know you’re missing without making lists and completing exercises.

Find the Holes

To get started, review Wardrobe Architect: Week 11 and start with shopping your closet and finding the holes.

After shopping my closet I zeroed in on the following gaps I would like to fill, not including shoes and accessories:


  • 1 pair of skinny black pants
  • 2 blazers – black and dark grey
  • 1 black knit pencil skirt
  • 1 full black skirt, below the knee
  • 1 short sleeved button down
  • 2 sleeveless button downs – any color, print
  • 2 Loose fitting knit tanks – black, grey
  • 1 black button down
  • 2 woven shift dresses – any color
  • 1 – 2 woven tees – any color except black
  • 2 hip length chunky cardigans – black, brown
  • 1 day dress with fitted bodice and full skirt
  • 1 shirt dress

Make a Shopping List

If you plan to purchase some new items now is the time to decide what they are! Maybe making a new coat or pants just isn’t in the cards for you this year, or perhaps you want to focus on new challenges and just want to buy the simple items on your list like t-shirts. Make a list of what you want to buy and keep it with you so that you can easily consult it next time you’re in a store.

Play Matchmaker

After you made your shopping list, let’s pair up the remaining garments you listed with some of the patterns you picked in January I used Polyvore to help me bring it all together.


I found easy matches for most of the garments on my list, though my original set of patterns did not include any sleeveless button downs, woven tees, or knit tanks, so I may draft those patterns myself, or search for some additional patterns. I also noted that a few of my originally selected patterns were sadly left without a match. That doesn’t mean I will never make those garments, but this exercise has shown me they’re a bit lower in priority in my sewing queue than other patterns.



Now it’s time to figure out what you want to sew and when! Plan your queue through at least July, which is when we will get another chance to take a look at our queues.

Seasonal Sewing

Here in Portland we’re already seeing the first signs of spring! That means all of those remaining cold weather garments in my sewing queue such as jackets and leggings, are quietly being traded out for pretty spring dresses. Seasonality varies so much worldwide; if you are south of the equator summer may be winding down, and if you live in a coastal region what you wear may not change much throughout the year.

Whether summer or winter feels months away, or just right around the corner, make sure your sewing queue reflects that! We’re in flux here in Portland, so I’m focusing on transitional pieces before I segue into summer, but you may still have a few months of winter to get through!

What’s First?

So which item made it to the top of your sewing queue? And what new garment are you most excited to make yourself this year? My top priority is black pants, but I’m most excited about making a blazer!

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