What is Seam Binding and How to Use Seam Binding Ribbon

When it comes to sewing there are a lot of rough edges that need to be tidied up before the garment can be worn. Fortunately sewing is not without its applications to make sure those rough edges look great.

What is seam binding? If you go to the dictionary to understand the term seam binding, you will find that this term refers to a very narrow plain weave fabric whose job is to strengthen seams, hems and cover those rough edges. When you are ready, you should sew the seam flat before sewing it into place.

To find out more about seam binding, just continue to read our article. It has the details you need so you can use and apply seam binding correctly.

What is Seam Binding in Sewing?

Seam binding is a term used in sewing to describe a particular application when you need to cover hems or rough edges. It is not a complicated application but one that does take a little time and skill to apply correctly. You just have to make sure you have the right material for this narrow strip of fabric.

One of the keys to doing seam binding is to make sure the application uses very sheer and delicate fabrics. This quality allows you to feel the rough edges on the material you are trying to reinforce or make look good.

It is possible to hang the binding over the edge of the material to make sure you have all the rough edges covered and for the seam binding to be sewn in properly. The best fabric to use for this application would be rayon.

Just remember that seam binding is not hem tape, bias tape or some other application. This application has its own properties and purpose.

What is Seam Binding Used For


The first task that seam binding is used for is to strengthen a seam. In clothing, the seams are the weakest point and one of the first areas to get ripped or torn. That weakness demands that an added narrow piece of fabric be added to protect the seam at all costs.

The next duty for seam binding is for it to finish hems. The seam binding helps cover up bad looking hems and make your garment look great down to the smallest detail. Then finally, the seam binding material makes sure your rough edges are not seen by anyone.

Seam binding is a cosmetic application to help your sewing look like a professional did it. Of course, your skirts and dresses may still look homemade but the attention to this little detail tells everyone you know your stuff and you know how to sew well.

When to Use Seam Binding

The perfect time to use seam binding is when you are near the end of your sewing project. This application is not needed during the majority of your work as its purpose is very clear and has been well stated allover the internet.

When you get down to the finishing touches on certain garments, you will need to use sea binding if your sewn seams appear to be a little weak and in need of reinforcing. Stitches alone cannot do the job of keeping the seams where they should be.

Also, you need to use seam binding when you have rough spots and hems to finish off. This little application adds the professional touch to your sewing project. While it is one of the last sewing applications you will do, seam binding is an important one.

This application makes sure your daughters go to school with the right look instead of looking like they are wearing unfinished articles of clothing.

What is Seam Binding Ribbon?


This sewing application is a thin, narrow strip of fabric, usually made of rayon, that goes over rough edges to prevent them from fraying. It is not a stiff fabric ribbon but one that is more delicate and sheer. Its purpose is to add strength to seams, help in hemming and as stated, cover rough edges.

It is not usually a design piece that draws all the attention away from the good-looking dress, skirt, and is on it is placed. The good news is that seam binding ribbon comes in a variety of colors helping you match your sewing project’s color scheme and help hide the ribbon.

Keep in mind that this ribbon is not twill tape, polyester hem tape or single or double fold bias tape. It is a ribbon specially made to help with seas and make them last a lot longer.

How to Use Seam Binding Ribbon

This is more of a time-consuming process than a complicated one. There are many applications to use to get seam binding ribbon on to your sewing project. Here is just one.

First, you need to pin and sew your seam like you normally would.

Second, iron your seam to make sure it lies flat.

Third, make sure all your fabric is pushed to the left of your needle. This may give you the wrong side of the fabric pointed in your direction. Now you can pin the seam binding to your fabric at this point but it is not necessary.

Fourth, place the delicate and sheer seam binding ribbon in place and have about half of it overhanging your edge. How far over depends on the thickness of your fabric.

Fifth, stitch the seam binding ribbon in place till you get to the end of the fabric. Then cut the ribbon about 1 inch past the end of the fabric.

Next, fold the unsewn half of the ribbon over your hem. You may need to use pins here to make sure the ribbon stays where you want it. After you have folded the ribbon, iron it so it stays in place.

After that, you want to return to your sewing machine and sew the last part of the seam binding in place. And you are done. You should have a beautiful-looking seam binding that does not detract from the overall look of your sewing project.

How to Sew Seam Binding Around Corners


This can be a difficult task as corners are very hard to make look good when you try to seam bind them. There is a long process to getting these corners done well so they do not ruin your work or look bad.

One of the first steps you need to do is lay out your seam binding ribbon and see where the seams on it lay. You do not want the seam binding ribbon seams in the corners. So if they fall there, move them.

Next, stitch the seam binding ribbon till you get to within 1/4 inch of the corner. Then back stitch for a few stitches and stop. Then fold the edge of the ribbon up in the corner till you get a 45-degree angle.

Now you fold the next row of seam binding ribbon over the folded edge and sew the two together. After that you should cut the binding ribbon a tiny bit up to but not including or past your stitches and fold the ribbon over a bit.

Then stitch it all into place. A little triangle of seam binding may appear during this process but you can trim it away easily. The newly cut piece of ribbon needs to be folded back over your sewing project, pinned into place and then sewn.

Seam Binding vs Bias Tape

One of the differences between the two sewing applications is that biased tape is cut on a 45-degree angle or what is called the bias. This tape is designed to stretch a bit which makes it very useful when you have a curve you have to sew through.

Bias tape is better with armholes, necklines and finishing seams. The seam binder ribbon is just that, a ribbon. It does add strength, but it is limited in its use and is best used to cover rough edges or seams. It also works on holding seams together.

Twill Tape vs Bias Tape


Twill tape is similar to seam binding in that it is a woven piece of ribbon only stronger. Where bias tape is good for being sewn around an edge of a garment to crate a finished hem, twill tape has more uses.

Besides reinforcing seams, twill tape is good for reinforcing button holes, etc. While bias tape is meant to be seen, twill tape is not. Twill tape’s job is to be the discreet secret strengthening factor while bias tape is the decorative touch.

Seam and Bias Binding Difference

One of the biggest differences between the two applications is that seam binding ribbon does not stretch. It is used as a stabilizer for those seams that tear easily. Bias tape is usually used on the seen portions of your sewing project.

Plus, it is used for those areas that require some stretch when in use. Then seam binding ribbon is usually a single layer of woven fabric whereas bias tape may have more than one layer.

Also, bias tape works best in those areas of the fabric that need stretching in all directions. Seam binding ribbon only works lengthwise and cross wises. It has little give and not usually a good material for rounded portions of your sewing project.

That means you need to avoid curves when using seam binding ribbon. It is not good to use around arm holes, necklines, buttons, waistbands and more.

What does Seam Binding Look Like?


Seam binding has a simple look to it. It is a woven roll of ribbon that is often made of rayon. It comes in a variety of colors so you can match the colors of your sewing project with ease.

Also, seam binding ribbon is often delicate and sheer. Its looks make it easy to work with without adding bulk. Its narrow design makes it perfect for those crossways and lengthwise seams, hems and rough edges you need to strengthen or hide.

It unrolls from its spool quite easily and can be put in a variety of locations keeping it handy when you need to use it. The drawback to the design of the seam binding ribbon is that it is hard to work with when you come to corners. Forget about rounded parts of your fabric as it is not designed to work in those areas.

How to Sew Seam Binding on a Quilt

The good thing about quilts is that they are either square or rectangle, at least the majority of them are. That makes using seam binding ribbon easy to use on quilts. As stated earlier, seam binding ribbon is made for such designs.

If you follow the instructions given earlier about how to do corners with seam binding ribbon, you will find that those instructions work well for quilts as well as any other fabric.

The key is to make sure the seams of the ribbon do not fall on the corners of the quilt. If they do you need to realign the ribbon to get those seams into the middle of the quilt. Also, you need to make sure you are covering the rough edge of the quilt before sewing.

Pinning helps you do all of that. Follow the instructions and you should not have a lot of difficulty using seam binding ribbon on your quilts.

Some Final Words

Seam binding ribbon is not hard to use. It may be more time consuming and tedious at times but it does get the job done. Make sure to use it where it can apply its strengths, like helping seams be stronger, finishing hems and hiding rough edges.

This woven ribbon is narrow, but it comes in handy when you want a professional look to your finished sewing project. Your daughters may thank you for the extra effort when they return from school.

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