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Coverstitch binder attachment tips & tricks

18 April 2012, 13:35

Way back when I was making my first muslins of my new running gear, I realised that the methods I’d previously used to finish knit necklines (elastic, FOE, serged bindings, etc) were just NOT going to cut it on slippery exercise lycra. The results were awful and sloppy, so I allowed myself to be convinced by Pattern Review that a coverstitch binder was the way forward.

At £80 a pop, they’re not a purchase to be taken lightly, and they’re probably about the most expensive thing you can buy for your sewing room, short of a machine or a dressform! But I wanted to ensure the most hassle-free experience, so I went for a brand-name Janome attachment rather than one of the cheaper, much more hacky eBay jobs. I bought mine from Jaycotts and Janome shipped it directly to me:

Unlike a lot of the eBay binders, this comes with everything you need to get started – the big metal plate, the shorter foot, and a big set of instructions on top of the binder attachment itself. So it’s expensive, but you don’t need to then go and buy all the non-optional bits separately – but I can understand the allure of just buying the binder for your second or third if you’ve already got the plate, foot, and instructions!

But my first several attempts to bind my test lycra strips were just laughably awful, so after fiddling with my tension and foot pressure, I turned to the internet for advice. I’m not sure whether it’s because not many of us own coverstitch machines (I fully admit that mine was a luxury purchase, bought just before I went into hospital), and even fewer of us own binders, but there is precious little information out there.

So I decided, after going through about 50 feet of test binding and finally getting good enough results to finish my sequin running vest, that I should do the sewing public a service and compile a bunch of useful coverstitch binder tips all together into one place. I’ve bolded the ones here I’ve found to be particularly helpful.

Tips from Lynn Rowe on Pattern Review:

More tips from other PR members, some of which came from my initial thread:

From Sarsez on PR:

The real breakthrough for me came really when I started experimenting with different fabrics as the binding. The “silk touch” lycra I had been using was sliding all over the place, with skipped stitches and loopy undersides as well, but I found that if I applied a lightweight knit fusible to the same binding fabric, there was now enough “grab” on the underside to really hold the slippery lycra neckline in place. Likewise, the (un-interfaced) Suziplex supplex also worked really well as binding fabric, as it’s got a slightly loopy/brushed texture on the underside.

Katherine at Sew Blooms, who’s also been experimenting with her binder, too, then also emailed me some of her tips:

Skye on PR even had her husband create a little spool for the binding fabric to rest on, and I can definitely see the advantage, as you really do need to keep an eye on the binding otherwise to ensure it’s not twisting or bunching on its way in.

Finished binding on my sequin running vest!

I think my main lesson learnt is that the binder fabric has to have at least some “grabbiness”. I was trying with slippery lycra first and getting awful results. Once I lightly interfaced that, or switched to fabric with a bit of texture on the underside, it went much easier. Also, taking a few stitches on just the binding before trying to insert the body fabric helped, too! And when you absolutely can’t avoid having a seam in your binding, then you need to go slowly, do a lot of coaxing with the tweezers, and hope for the best!

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  1. Phew! You’ve just made someone, somewhere very happy. For myself? Can you hear that pat-pat-patter? That’s the sound of me RUNNING FOR THE HILLS! I am not in this league!

    Did You Make That?    Apr 18, 02:35 PM    #
  2. Wow, I keep saying I am going to figure out how to do this and then decide that I have alternatives. Thanks so much for such a comprehensive list of tips. You’re getting me many steps closer to actually attempting this process.

    Jane S    Apr 18, 08:17 PM    #
  3. did you find any good videos using the binder?
    Thank you for posting this info, a binder is on my want list

    — Bonny    Apr 18, 09:49 PM    #
  4. Thanks for compiling this information..its going on my pinterest page!

    — Izzie    Apr 19, 04:22 AM    #
  5. Just when I was about to experiment, you’ve posted up a wonderful list of hints. Thank you again for taking the time to share this information. Now to pluck up the courage to learn another new skill :-)

    velosewer    Apr 19, 06:45 AM    #
  6. What a great gathering of the binder tips, thanks! I don’t have a CS (yet) but this post is getting bookmarked.

    — JustGail    Apr 19, 01:57 PM    #
  7. Really excellent tips! I don’t have any plans to purchase a coverstitch, but you never know…

    The Slapdash Sewist    Apr 19, 06:50 PM    #
  8. I’m planning to experiment with making running gear for DH this summer. What size needles do you have in the coverstitch machine? Your tutorials are so helpful, I expect this info will save me lots of headaches. Thanks for sharing!

    Ming    Apr 20, 12:59 PM    #
  9. I’m with commenter #1. This is far beyond my realm of sewing understanding. I am working on getting there.

    Sara G    Feb 21, 09:34 PM    #
  10. I know you mentioned that you can add elastic if you want to the binding. Can you explain that further? Does the elastic and the fabric go in the binder?

    — Joanna    Apr 3, 07:44 PM    #
  11. hello,
    i am having a lot of trouble with sewing my swimwear binding on, i was just wondering for Lycra what stitch you would recommend? just the cover stitch or chain stitch or the triple stitch there is so many options and im going crazy trying to work it out :P
    Thank you!

    Victoria    Dec 5, 12:48 AM    #
  12. So helpful!!!! Thank you.

    — Mills    May 21, 02:12 AM    #
  13. This was such a great page to find. I am very slowly winning the battle of the binding….thanks for summarizing all of that useful info. Just a pity Debs instructions no longer have their images. Go well, Penny

    — Penny    Oct 12, 03:36 PM    #

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