Floral Robson trench: adventures in bias binding


[Oops!  I hit publish on this post before I finished writing it!  Hopefully those of you who read this post early enjoyed my slew of photos with no explanations. 🙂 ]

Work on my floral Robson trench continues!  I’m happy to report that I seem to have found some motivation to actually work on this project now that (a) the epic cutting part is complete, and (b) the cool fall weather is arriving.  Today’s installment: bias binding.  One of the defining features of my trench (aside from the beautiful floral fabric, of course!) will be black bias binding that will boldly outline various parts of the coat, including the collar and lapels.

This past weekend I started binding a few of the small pieces: the pocket welts and shoulder epaulettes.  It was… time consuming.  Of course.  This is me we’re talking about, after all.  🙂  I’ve been mitering the corners, which is both extremely fiddly and extremely satisfying.  I bound a total of 4 pieces, and each took about 45 minutes!  But, I really like the finished effect, and I think it will give the trench a unique touch.

I took a few in-progress photos of my ad-hoc (aka totally made-up) binding technique.  I’m using what is essentially double-fold bias tape that I cut from a black cotton/linen blend, and I’ve folded over the 5/8″ seam allowance on the part that gets folded over to the back.  The rest of the folds get made during application.  If you have any advice on how to apply the tape and miter the corners better than what I’m doing here, I’m all ears!

First up: forming the miters.  I’ve been marking this zig-zag style chalk line on a folded edge of the tape, in the precise location where the tape will get wrapped around a corner.  If you sew along the diagonal lines, you should get a nice miter once the tape is folded lengthwise over the garment fabric edge.  Below, I’ve drawn lines for a shallow-angle corner.  Confession: I totally guesstimate the angle!


For a tighter corner (up to 90 degrees), I increase the angle of the diagonal lines.  The horizontal chalk line is the seam line where I’ll sew the binding to the right side of the garment fabric.robson-trench-bias-binding-sewing-line-for-mitered-corner-with-tight-angle

Once I’ve sewn a set of diagonal lines for each corner that I want to bind, I trim away any bulk in the seam allowances (i.e., the little triangles along the fold), and I pin the tape around the garment fabric edge.  I try to put the pins right on the seam line so that I have a target to aim for when approaching the corners.robson-trench-bias-binding-pinning-binding-in-place

Here’s the back of the piece (a pocket welt) after attaching the binding.  I’m sewing 1/2″ in from the garment fabric edge, AFTER trimming off the original 5/8″ seam allowances from the garment fabric.  That way, the final piece winds up being the right size, and the black trim is 1/2″ thick.robson-trench-bias-binding-sewing-line-for-attaching-binding

Next up: I fold the bias binding over the edge and toward the back of the piece, as usual when applying binding.  At this point there is some finessing of the corners that needs to happen.  I typically utilize a fairly blunt knitting needle, a lot of patience, and a few of my favorite four-letter words.  The more accurate you are with spacing and sewing the miters in the first step, the smoother this process goes.  Ask me how I know.  🙂

When I’m satisfied that the corners are no longer a hot mess, I place a few pins right on the seam line (on which I’m about to topstitch), making sure to catch the underlying fold on the back of the piece.


See?  All my pins are catching the binding on the back.robson-trench-bias-binding-back-of-binding-caught-by-pins

Then I simply topstitch (essentially stitching in the ditch) on the front of the piece to secure the fold in the back, and voila!  A nicely bound edge with mitered corners.robson-trench-bias-binding-pocket-welt-complete-front

The back of the piece looks pretty good as well.  You can see that the topstitching just catches the binding in the back.robson-trench-bias-binding-pocket-welt-complete-back

And here are my two finished and bound pocket welts!  Hooray!  🙂robson-trench-bias-binding-two-bound-pocket-welts

Feeling fairly confident that I wasn’t going to completely screw things up at this point, I moved onto the two epaulettes, which are significantly smaller and thinner than the pocket welts.  The three mitered corners in such close proximity to each other were the definition of fiddly, but all things considered, I think they came out pretty well!  They’re not perfect, but they’re good enough for me.  It’s funny how little of the fashion fabric actually shows through after binding though.robson-trench-bias-binding-two-bound-epaulettes

Extreme close-ups of the miters on the front:robson-trench-bias-binding-front-of-epaulete-tips

And on the back, where the topstitching has just caught the folded-over edge:robson-trench-bias-binding-back-of-epaulete-tips

Phew!!  Good thing I only have about a million more edges to bind…  🙂

In other news, I finished sewing together the flannel interlining, including what I dare say was the smoothest set-in sleeve experience that I’ve ever had.  Is it crazy to actually enjoy setting in sleeves when all goes well?


I’ve been reading that sleeves are typically NOT interlined to maintain as much ease and freedom of movement as possible, so I may live to regret including them.  We’ll see.  My arms are always cold, so I couldn’t resist including some snuggly flannel around them in this coat.robson-trench-flannel-interlining-complete-back

I should also mention that I sewed all the interlining seams with 1/2″ seam allowances instead of the usual 5/8″ to allow some extra wearing ease, and I plan to sew the rayon lining with even smaller seam allowances (in addition to a pleat at the center back).  Although I don’t expect to have a lot of freedom of movement in a trench coat, I’m trying my best to make it comfortable!

That’s about it for now.  I feel like I’m finally in the trenches of sewing this trench coat!  What, too much?  Gotta love a good pun.  🙂  Hope you all enjoyed the weekend!

12 thoughts on “Floral Robson trench: adventures in bias binding

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