When you are finished with a sewing project you may want to bind the seam. Binding a seam can be important for a variety of reasons, the main one being to enclose a raw edge or seam. Enclosing a raw edge or seam may be useful not only for aesthetic reasons but to prevent the fabric from unraveling in the wash. Binding a seam is also a useful way to add decoration to your project.
There are three primary methods for binding a seam — bias binding, French binding, and piping. Before you begin binding a seam, you should loosely stitch the raw edges about 3/4 of an inch (1.9 cm) from the edge to stabilize the fabric. This technique is also known as stay stitching.
Bias Binding or Single-Fold Binding:
Perhaps the most basic method for binding a seam is the bias method. Here, a strip of fabric is cut on the bias with a width that is four times the width the finished band will be. The edges are then folded inward to meet the crease that was just made, and then pressed flat once again. This leaves a long piece of fabric with four equal sections. That binding strip is then placed to cover the seam of the project, and sewn in place. Depending on your project, you may be able to machine stitch the binding strip in place or it may need to be hand stitched using a slip stitch.
French Binding or Double-Fold Binding:
Another method for binding a seam is known as the French or double-fold method. Binding a seam in this manner requires a binding strip that is six times wider than the desired finished width. That strip is folded in half, lengthwise, with the finished sides facing out and then pressed flat. The bias method is then followed. Basically, the French method of binding a seam adds an extra layer of fabric to the binding strip in order to add strength and durability.
Binding a seam for more decorative reasons can be done with piping. Piping strips can be purchased already made, in which case you just have to sew it onto the seams or edges of your finished product, or you can make it yourself. To make piping, you just need to follow the French or bias method for binding a seam and lay a cord of piping in the center crease. Then the completed piping strip is affixed to your project. Stitching the piping on the final product should be done as close to the cord as possible to ensure that the cord is snugly in place.