Sew Better with Staystitching Fundamentals
Although one of my favorite parts of sewing is creating interesting surface design, I'm well aware that it's the underpinning steps in the process that make a garment truly successful and wearable.
One of those essential steps is staystitching-a row of stitches on a single fabric layer that prevents a curved or angled edge, because they are cut across the bias, from stretching during the construction process. These stitches never show on the front side, but they will affect the overall appearance of the garment if they're overlooked.
Staystitches are regular-length stitches (2 mm) that are not removed like basting or ease stitches. A row of staystitching should be sewn about 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch outside the seamline or about 1/2 inch from the cut edge if seam allowances are 5/8 inch. Be careful not to stitch across the seamline because the stitches will show on the garment's right side.
Sew directionally, with the grain, to prevent distortion. Usually this means sewing from the top to the bottom of a neckline or sleeve.
Be careful not to stretch or straighten a curve while staystitching
Staystitches are also used to reinforce inside corners and points (e.g. on a square or V neckline; the opening for a continuous sleeve placket; a godet that is not set in a seam) as well as curved edges such as an armhole– all of which may require clipping to insure smooth seams. When an area is reinforced, it's not always necessary to sew along the entire edge. At a corner, for example, you can start stitching about 1 inch away from the point and stop about the same distance on the other side.
V-necklines should be staystitched because of their angular lines and reinforced because they need to be clipped at the V. The angle can be sewn in one operation, pivoting at the point.
More staystitching fundamentals continued on next page.