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Finishing Soft Fabrics with a French Binding: Video Tutorial

Finishing Soft Fabrics with a French Binding

In my Spring Sewing Plans I mentioned that I planned to make the Geneva Blouse by Liesl & C0. The blouse is finished with bindings rather than facings. I used the binding method explained in the pattern for the neckline but found that it didn't provide me with the amount of control I liked. The fabric I used to make the blouse is a soft rayon cotton challis and I felt a French Binding would provide more control, so I used that method to finish the sleeves. In this video tutorial, I will walk you through this simple method. You will also find step by step photos below. Let's get started!

A French Binding is a method used to finish the edges of a garment with a bias strip of fabric. The bias strip is folded in half with long edges together, sewn to the raw edge of the garment, and then the entire binding is turned to the wrong side and secured either by machine or hand. The double width of the binding provides more control over the binding process.

Cut the correct width Bias Strip and sew together.

The pattern calls for a 1" bias strip but I cut a 1 1/4" wide strip the same length as the pattern piece. Sew the short ends together as instructed in the pattern. Press the short ends open and then press the strip in half with long edges together.

Cut a bias strip the correct width and join together as instructed in the pattern.

Using a 1 1/4" wide strip will give a finished binding width of about 1/8". The general rule to determine the width of a French Binding is to cut the strip 6 times the width of the seam allowance plus an additional 1/4" for the turn of the cloth. I reduced the width of my strip because the fabric is so soft and light, but I could have used a little extra. Next time, I will cut it at 1 1/2".

Pin the Binding to the garment, right sides together.

Pin the Binding to the garment, right sides together.

Stitch the Binding to the Garment using the Seam Allowance called for in the Pattern and Trim.

I stitched the binding to the sleeve using the 1/4" seam allowance called for in the pattern.

Trimming the Binding.

I trimmed the binding down to 1/16 - 1/8".

Press the Binding away from the Garment.

Press the Binding away from the Garment.

Turn the garment wrong side out and press both the binding and the seam allowance away from the garment.

Press the Binding to the Wrong Side.

Press the Binding to the Wrong Side

Fold the binding to the wrong side right on the seam. Roll the binding slightly to the wrong side so a small amount of the right side of the sleeve is showing at the edge and press everything smooth.

Secure Everything in Place with Glue Baste It

Secure everything in place with Glue Baste It

Put a thin line of Glue Baste It in between the binding clips or pins. Give the Glue Baste It a few minutes to dry. You can find Glue Baste It here (this is an affiliate link - I receive a small commission if purchased through this link).

Sew the Binding in Place.

Stitching the Binding in Place.

Sew the binding in place from the wrong side using a edge stitch foot and setting the needle a few clicks to the right. If the bobbin thread of the sewing machine doesn't provide a nice stitch, the binding can be top stitched in place. Carefully measure the width of the binding once pressed in place and top stitch from the right side. If top stitching, make sure to use the Glue Baste It or hand baste the binding in place first so that the soft fabric doesn't shift.

The Finished Binding

Here is the finished binding! I hope you give this method a try. To be notified of more tutorials, sign up for our newsletter (which never goes out more than weekly) as well as the latest news from around the sewing world. You also receive the free Sewing Planner and a 15% off coupon to the shop!


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