Applying binding cutouts

Published On: January 1, 2013Categories: Features, How-To Articles, Projects

At Hood Canvas, we use binders large and small in all our canvas fabrications. Some fabricators we know apply smaller edge bindings around corners by hand and get excellent results. Every shop has its method of applying edge bindings around cutouts, but it can be difficult, especially for new fabricators. In this article we are going to show you our method of binding around the corners of a cutout using an inexpensive straight binder.

We use ¾-inch bias-cut binding on all our bottom edges and cutouts. Two things are important to note: First, we unsolder the lead-in plate that is on the left side of the binder as we find it gets in the way. Second, binders need to be tested on scrap, adjusted, and sometimes tweaked slightly. Once they run onto the fabric evenly, they tend to stay that way. On our machines, we have extra bobbin top plates with all our attachments mounted in the correct relationship to the needle. This way we can change between edge guides and binders quickly as they just slide on and off.


We always have two layers of fabric wherever there is a cutout. In the photo, we have marked the fabric from our pattern and stapled the plies together. We are stay-stitching along the bottom of the panel and up and around the cutout. With sharp scissors, cut on the white lines, and heat the edges with a hot knife.


Here we are positioning our binder with the cutout in position to be bound. Notice we have bound the bottom edge first. This way mistakes going around the cutout can be removed easily with the small blade of a jackknife under the edge. Hold the blade flat on the fabric and insert the tip under the edge of the binding to be removed and draw the blade along the length of the binding, cutting the thread. It is best to use a semi-sharp blade: It makes binding removal fast and painless.


We have started the binding process. Back tack at the beginning over the top of the other binding and proceed to the first outside curve. Notice how the fabric is folded to the left side. Going around this outside curve, try to be as fluid as possible without forcing the fabric in too hard. It is important to note the position of the needle during binding. Those new to binding tend to focus on the binder when they should be focusing in on the needle. The binder guides only the fabric; the needle does the actual binding.


We are approaching the first inside curve. Our fabric is folded hard left, back on itself. The needle is advanced as far as it can go without stitching over the fold.


With the needle down, we pull the fabric fold up and to the left. This pull of the fabric gains us about 2 to 3 stitches before we are forced to another corner.


We are at the corner in this photo. If we were to go any further, the needle would have stitched over the fold. Always pay attention to the needle position to avoid doing this. Staple pullers, inverted as a finger extension, can be a useful tool for getting the fabric to where it needs to be relative to the needle.


This fold-and-stitch process is repeated all the way around the curve 2 to 3 stitches at a time. A DC servo motor can be a real plus here for low speed control while binding curves.

The completed cutout. We are pretty good about getting it right on the first shot, but mistakes happen. In that case, we would remove the entire binding and try again. To us, fixed bindings look fixed. When we are binding, we run on and off edges and trim to the edge later. This saves time by not holding or cutting thread. It does waste a little binding, but it is a fair trade off. We heat the cut ends of all our binding with a hot knife after it is trimmed. When possible, we prefer square corners with overlapped binding to rounding tight radiuses with our binder. Make a model with cutouts using two pieces of scrap fabric and practice binding cutouts.

Mark Hood, MFC, and his wife, Deb, own and operate Hood Marine Canvas and Hood Marine Canvas Training Workshops in Merrimac, Mass. For more information and to purchase the large binder seen in these articles, visit or email