Tips for Better Topstitching
Topstitching is as simple as sewing a straight stitch. However, since every stitch shows, fabric preparation, thread and needle choice, presser foot selection, and the proper technique are all critical to achieve a professional look.
Topstitching is defined as one or more rows of stitching visible from the garment's right side. Decorative and practical, this simple stitch has many uses. It holds fabric layers in place, such as seam allowances (this is often done with straight-stitched rows sewn on each side of the seam), facings (such as at the neckline), hems, collars, lapels, cuffs, pocket attachment, and so on. Topstitching adds texture and definition-similar to quilting, and gives decorative effects based on thread, stitch, and placement choices. Edgestitching is also topstitching that is sewn usually 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch from the edge.
With a little practice and the right tools, I'll show you how you can achieve stunning topstitching results.
The Tools You Use Make All the Difference
Use these supplies and stitching hints to create truly fine topstitching.
Fabrics with body work best
Select your fabric with topstitching in mind. Fabrics with body are easier to stitch accurately. However, other fabrics can be used with the appropriate stabilization and a stitch that is not elaborate.
- Use starch or stabilizer to add body. Where appropriate (most wovens), use spray starch to make otherwise difficult-to-sew fabrics a breeze. You can also use interfacing or a removable stabilizer under tricky-to-sew areas. I often use one or more layers of lightweight, tear-away stabilizer.
- Take the time to carefully press before starting. First, press the seam while it is still closed. This is called setting the seam. Then, press the seam allowances open, and end by pressing them in the final desired direction.
Teach Yourself to Sew
Teach Yourself to Sew is a video series for beginning sewers or anyone who wants to brush up on their skills. We demonstrate basic sewing techniques, share tips, and give step-by-step instruction for beginner sewing projects. Plus, you can ask our experts for answers to any sewing questions you have along the way. You’ll gain the confidence you need to get started in sewing, and in no time you’ll be creating gorgeous garments. If you have already mastered the art of sewing, share this series with those who want to get started, and contribute your expertise by answering questions in the forum.
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