Sunday, December 4, 2011

How to Apply Seam Binding: A Tutorial


I often get questions about the rayon seam binding finish that I love to use.  So when Jeanette suggested a tutorial, I figured the timing was perfect!

First, you will need to make sure you have the right materials.  I use Hug Snug Rayon Seam Binding, but any rayon binding will do.  This is not twill tape, polyester hem tape, or single/double fold bias tape.  I highly recommend getting your hands on some rayon binding - it makes a real difference.

Whenever possible, I like to sew my seams before applying the hem tape to the raw edges of my fabric.  This way, if any stretch occurs, your piecing will not be affected.

There are a few different techniques I have used to apply the seam binding, and I am sure there are more that I am not aware of, but I will start with my favorite.

*Double-Seamed Method*


1.  Pin and sew your seam as you normally would.


2.  Iron your seam flat. 


3.  Go back to your sewing machine.  Push all of the fabric to the left of the needle except for one raw edge (you should have the wrong side of your fabric facing you).  I like to keep a spool of seam binding at my feet and unwind it as needed. 


For my first seam, I do not use pins, but you certainly could.  The seam binding is a bit sheer and very delicate, so you should be able to see/feel where the edge of your material is.  I like to place the binding so a bit more than half of the binding hangs over the edge (if your fabric if thick, you may want to have even more hang over the edge to accommodate the thickness).  Stitch this is place and continue unwinding from the spool at your feet until you reach the end of the fabric. 

4.  Cut the binding about an inch from the edge of your fabric just in case it unravels at the cut end before you finish your garment.


5.  Back at the ironing board, fold the remaining half of the binding so that it encases the raw edge.  At this point, depending on the length of the seam, you may want to use a few pins to hold the folded over edge in place.  You may not need to, however, because this stuff irons beautifully!



6.  Now you need to go back to the sewing machine and stitch that seam in place.  I usually complete these first steps on all of my lengthwise seams at once before heading to the ironing board, iron a bunch of them down, and then head back to the machine to be more efficient.



This method obviously uses up a lot of thread, but I find that I get the best results.  I do not have to struggle with a narrow folded piece of drapey rayon and I do not have to pre-cut lengths of binding, so in the end, I feel like it saves time and frustration.


But that’s just me!

*Pre-Fold Method*

For this method, lengths of seam binding are cut to the length of each raw edge that needs to be covered.  If I go this route, I like to use pinking shears to cut the binding.  (While the edges are woven and will never ravel, the cut ends have a tendency to fray.)

1.  Pin and sew your seam as you normally would.

2.  Iron your seam flat. 

3.  Cut your pieces of seam binding a bit longer than your seam (to account for any measurement mistakes – you will not want to unpick your stitches once you have completed a long seam, and it is always better to have a little too much than not enough, right?).


4.  Go to the ironing board and fold the lengths of seam binding so that the edges are not quite even.  This will ensure that your single line of stitching catches both the front and back sides of the binding.


5.  Here comes the irritating part (at least for me).  Forget I said that – it may end up being you favorite part and I would not want to influence you!  This time you should work with the right side of the fabric facing you.  Encase the raw edge of your fabric with the thinner edge on the top and pin in place.  


6.  Go back to the sewing machine and stitch as close to the edge as possible.  When you turn your seam to the wrong side, you should have easily caught the back side of the binding because it is wider than the front fold. 


If your stitches look a bit wavy or the binding looks ruffled, go back to the ironing board and press your seam flat with a bit of steam.  Presto, you have a beautifully finished seam edge!



*Pre-Fold Hand Stitched Method*

This method is the same as the pre-fold method except that you will be hand stitching the seam binding. 


I have found that with a piled fabric like velvet or some thicker wools, the folded rayon does not like to stay in place with the Pre-fold method and then you have to fight your machine, the stitching line is no longer straight, and frustration ensues.  

I should also confess that I find hand sewing to be incredibly relaxing (unless you are on a deadline!) and easier to keep things from shifting.  I use a combination of a running stitch with a few backstitches every few inches to make sure that the running stitch does not gather my seam.


A quick steam press, and you have a lovely finished seam – nothing is ever going to unravel!

*A few more things to keep in mind*

This is obviously a rather time consuming technique to finish raw edges, but I believe the end result is worth the extra trouble.  The light weight rayon will not add bulk to your seams, it gives a very vintage feel to the insides of your garments, and it really is pretty! 

If you have perpendicular seams, make sure to finish all of the seams traveling in the same direction before sewing up any cross seams.  For instance, each lengthwise skirt seam should be bound before the skirt gets stitched to the bodice along the waist seam.  


This will catch all of the ends of the seam binding in that waist seam, which, eventually, gets finished with the binding.  


And look, you now have another completed seam that needs to be finished!  Time to get to work!


I have never pre-washed the rayon binding, and have never had an issue with shrinkage.  That being said, I normally drip dry all of my hand made clothing, so I am not sure what too much dryer time might do to the binding.  I would imagine that if your fabric is pre-shrunk there should not be any issue.  

Rayon seam binding also works great as hem tape!



*Suppliers*

If you don’t think you will have a use for 100 yards of this stuff, I would suggest Mattiecakes’ etsy shop.  She sells very reasonably priced lengths in stunning colors.

If your local sewing shops do not carry rayon seam binding, I would suggest trying some Hug Snug from fabric.com.  The mass retailers like JoAnn Fabrics do not carry the rayon binding, and I would suggest avoiding the polyester hem tape that looks similar at all costs – it is stiff (even though it calls itself “soft & easy”) and will not iron nearly as well – I would imagine it would melt if your iron gets too hot!  

And I promise you will get a lot of use out of this stuff – it is fabulous!


Contrasting colors can look very pretty, so don’t worry if you cannot find an exact match to your fabric.

If you have any other suggestions for places to purchase rayon seam binding, please let everyone know!

Sorry for the length of this entry and the poor picture quality – the sun was not very bright in the sewing room today!  I have a new found respect for all of the bloggers out there that are always doing new tutorials – it is really challenging and time consuming not to mention difficult to take pictures with one hand!  So please let me know if I was unclear or need to fill in any missing steps.

Thanks for reading!

34 comments:

  1. Thanks Laura, I will definitely be trying my hand at the rayon seam binding, hopefully sometime soon :)

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  2. Thanks You!! :-) I can't wait to try it. I got some pretty pink from Fabric.com a while ago and think I will use it inside a skirt for starters. Now I just need some time to sew... I can see having fun "collecting" a bunch of the colors just because they are so pretty. lol Off to check out that Etsy store! Thanks again for the tutorial, that really helps alot!!

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  3. Thanks Laura - I have a silk blouse on my "sew it next" list, and I wasn't sure if all the seams could be sewn French, or how exactly to use seam tape. I have a few rolls of vintage tape I got at an estate sale, and now I know how to proceed!

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  4. Awesome tutorial! When my serger was broken I did nearly all my seams this way, and I admit, I get a greater sense of satisfaction when looking at the inside of those garments :)
    Thanks for putting the time into this great tutorial!

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  5. Thanks for this tutorial. I'd never even heard of rayon seam binding.

    --C.B.

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  6. Wow! I love binding my seams but have found cotton binding is too stiff and bulky and gets pulled out of shape when I pre-wash it (necessary with cotton). Polyester or poly-cotton binding is also terrible - similarly stiff and bulky and worse - melty! I have therefore tended to make my own from self-fabrics, silk satin or silk organza, but that is an enormous hassle. In short I am THRILLED to learn of the existence of rayon binding - and your application methods look great too. Thanks :) :)

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  7. Great tutorial! I've seen Hug Snug around, but I wasn't quite sure how it worked.

    Also, I was wondering if you were going to the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook Launch Party on Monday. I'm going to do my best to be there, and I thought it would be nice to meet other Bay Area sewing bloggers.

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  8. @Amy Amy, I just heard about the Launch Party yesterday on the BurdaStyle blog, and thought it sounded like a lot of fun. I am not sure if it will work schedule-wise, but I am going to try to show up for a bit. So perhaps I will see you there!

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  9. Fabulous tutorial - it is just what I needed to know. I am about to start a black velvet recital dress for my Dd, and wondered how I would finish the edges. Perfect timing! Now I just need to learn how to do a hand picked zipper....
    Blessings,
    Patti

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  10. Thanks for this; I've had a roll of black hug snug in my sewing stuff for years, but didn't know quite how to use it. Do you use it around the armscye seams for sleeves, or do you do something else there? Seems like it might get a bit tricky getting it on there and having it not be all bunched up or bucked...

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  11. @Holly Gates Holly: I absolutely use it to finish the armscye. To make it easier, I trim the seam allowance down. And I would recommend using the double-seamed method to navigate the curves! It’s not as easy as a straight seam, but definitely works!

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  12. I love this! I will use this with everything. Thanks for the tutorial.

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  13. This is very useful! Thank you!
    How well does it work on curved seams? I mean, is the rayon tape cut on the bias?
    Thanks again, I've been wanting a tutorial like this for a while now, even though I have a serger on loan to me.

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    1. Emilie,

      You are so very welcome!

      The seam binding is not cut on the bias. However, I have had quite a bit of success with curved seams, but it does take an extra bit of fussing to get to it work properly. A good steam under the iron makes all the difference after it is applied.

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  14. Great tutorial and pics! Thanks so much. I have done them myself, and I understAnd the work involved.

    Hugs, Joy

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  15. Thanks this is really useful - have just been given some of this and have never used it before :)

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  16. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I just picked up some recently because it was on sale, but I wasn't too sure what to do with it. Happy blogiversary!

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  17. Thank you for sharing. I've been wondering how this product was used. How does it behave on curved edges?

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    1. It will work on a slight curve, but since the binding is not bias, a circle can be finicky. It does, however, iron beautifully, so with a bit of steam, you can definitely shape a strip.

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  18. thank for the tutorials ,that was great

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  19. Thanks so much - very helpful.

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  20. Looking really nice! I'm the kind of person though that YES! 100 yards please, oh wait, let's make it 200 while we're at it because I don't know if I'm ever gonna find it again. Hmm... but saying it like that.... 100 yards per color please. :)

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  21. Thanks so much for this tutorial Laura Mae.
    Hug Snug was hard to find in England, but I hunted some down- and agree with you that it's fabulous! Just mentioned your tutorial in my latest blog post :)

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  22. Thanks for the awesome tutorial! I'm definitely convinced...especially since my next dress is going to be Butterick 5882, which will be deserving of such lovingly finished seams! Now to decide which color Hug Snug to buy...

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  23. Just wanted to let you know that Hug Snug is available through WAWAK. I usually am able to get it there for under $7 a roll, though you do have to pay for shipping.

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  24. Thank you so much for this! A pattern I will be sewing calls for it, and I have never used it before!

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  25. Instead of hand sewing binding to velvet fabric raw edges, how about simply serging those pesky ravelly edges? OK, serging certainly does not have the expensive retro look that binding has, but it certainly is quicker and less frustrating.

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    1. A serged edge is definitely a possibility, but for those of us without that specialized machine, this is an inexpensive and pretty alternative! :)

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  26. Also other anonymous, serging does not look very nice in comparison and is a waste of thread. And yes they are expensive and unnecessary. I don't want to replicate factory made which are badly made.

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  27. This is probably a silly question, but how would you recommend finishing those edges with rayon binding that will not eventually be finished by another seam? For example, with the fourth picture in this (http://www.lauramaedesigns.com/2014/06/polka-dot-party-time.html) post, how would you go about finishing the corner? Would you just fold the binding under? Thank you!

    Danielle

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    1. Danielle – it really depends on how I am feeling that day!

      Sometimes I stop stitching before coming to the corner, sink the needle, crease the binding diagonally (as you would with a mitered corner) lift the presser foot, rotate the piece, and continue along using a single length of binding.

      In the picture you refer to, I applied binding to each side, trimmed the edges even with the cotton facing, and then applied another piece of binding to the bottom edge. To finish those raw edges, after applying the first line of stitching to my binding, I folded the ends to the back along the side edge and then folded the binding in half to cover the long edge, which contains all of the raw bits.

      So yes, you can absolutely fold raw edges under!

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  28. What about using ribbon in the same way? I have some 1/2" silk ribbon on hand that would look lovely inside a dress. Can you think of any reasons why using ribbon wouldn't be a good idea?

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    1. I think that would be a lovely option! The only thing I would worry about is color bleed if the color of the ribbon is darker than the fabric. Silk often bleeds when washed, which the Hug Snug does not do - you might want to test out with a few scraps. Good luck!

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  29. " So please let me know if I was unclear or need to fill in any missing steps."

    You did quite well dear Sewist. Thank you for this tutorial. I am pinning and referencing on my blog.

    Cheers,

    Lyric

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