Tutorial: Attaching binding to a knit cami

Binding pattern instructions

Pattern instructions from McCalls 6225 childrens sleepwear pattern

I hope you can read these %$*#) worthless pattern instructions. Worse than worthless. And that kind of nonsense from the McCalls pattern company makes me hopping mad. Pure, unadulterated laziness.

“Turn right side out.” Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? I am hardly new to working with knits, and thirty minutes later all I had was a hole in the middle of the binding strap that was stuck part way thru the “turn right side out” step. Lots of bad words spewed cuz I was in a hurry, as usual, trying to get samples made up for a camp fair I am exhibiting in on Saturday. OK, throw these %$*#) worthless pattern instructions away and see what I did instead.

Cut binding strips

1. Cut out your binding strips using the pattern piece. That much is OK.

2. Stitch short ends together using seam allowance on your pattern (mine was 3/8″).

Binding pinned to cami armhole

3. Pin the binding to the armhole of your cami, matching the binding seam to the armhole seam and the binding notches to the armhole notches. I notched the binding where it was supposed to meet the hem edge of the cami front and back. Instead of drawing a stupid little dot on the fabric I snipped. Faster and easier!

Binding stitched to cami

4. Stitch the binding to the armhole only, backstitching at both ends. Use the seam allowance indicated (again, 3/8″ on my pattern). Good Lord, I could use a manicure!

Pressed binding

5. Press the seam allowance around the armhole toward the binding and press both edges of the shoulder strap area toward the center.

Pinned binding

6.Fold and pin the unstitched edge of the binding to meet the stitching line on the underarm area, and on the shoulder strap make the 2 pressed folds meet.

Binding stitched around armhole

7. Starting at the underarm area, using a zig-zag stitch, stitch around the entire binding.

Stretched binding compared to unsewn binding

Holy crap. Look how much the stitched binding stretched out compared to the original binding. On the second strap I tried technique # 2. Follow steps 1-3 as above, but then:

Clear elastic application to a cami binding

4 revised. Starting at the underarm, apply 1/4″ clear elastic with a zig-zag stitch around the ENTIRE binding. Yes, even around the shoulder strap section that you did NOT stitch on above.

Then follow steps 5-7 as before, pressing and stitching down.

Comparing elastic binding to non-elastic binding

Elastic in the binding version #2 is on the left, and the no-elastic first attempt is on the right. Big difference, huh?

Measuring completed binding with elastic

The elastic version measures almost 8 1/2 inches folded.

easuring a completed cami strap

The no-elastic version measures pretty close to 10 inches – if you add a little for the wavy wonky way it is on laid the mat.

Before you all start adding a bunch of comments about why didn’t I use the coverstitch on my serger, I was trying this for a Kids Sew Camp project. None of the kids I sew with own sergers, so I need techniques that work on regular sewing machines, and in some cases, pretty crappy machines. I might need to start/help them with the elastic step, but I think the outcome will be decent if we use these steps instead.

How about you? Do you have any other tips that might help in applying binding to a knit cami on a sewing machine? Shout ’em out!

Happy sewing!






8 Responses to Tutorial: Attaching binding to a knit cami

  1. That’s a fabulous tip, Maris! I had similar issues with a sleep cami I made for my daughter, and vowed never to make another. But this makes me re-think the possibilities!

    • Hey Thanks Tami! It worked pretty well. I need an 8 yr-old to try the actual cami on, but at least the clear elastic side didn’t really stretch from the original pattern sizing. Try it on Elyse and let me know how it all works out!

      • I did this today and was WAY happier with your method, Maris. However, I made slight modifications I wanted to share: I serged the strap pieces before I pinned & stitched them to the shirt, and I used a straight stitch. The serging seems to have prevented any unwanted stretch, and it made for a nice guide for folding.

        We’ll have to see how well the straight stitching holds up. But for once the straps were the second-least crazy-making part of the process (after the hem). ­čÖé

  2. God bless you for revising really crappy instructions. So many of the instruction pages are just Xeroxed copies from times gone by….no one actually tries these outdated techniques, the pattern companies drop these turds unto the pages and call it done…

    • Hahaha – thanks Mrs. Mole! I think I should have revised this to also attach binding FIRST, and then stitch side seam. Might be an even better shape/fit under the arm area. Always thinkin….

  3. Another wonderful SewMaris tutorial! I believe we all need to learn to sew on regular machines. I think it helps us become better sewists and we appreciate our cool expensive ones.
    My mom used to say that even though most accounting is done by computer, it is a necessity to know how to do it by hand. She was an accountant.

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