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Basting for Couture Garments | Video

Video: Threads Magazine

Couture garment construction is different from home sewing, and it includes a number of hand-sewing techniques that ensure accuracy. You can adopt these techniques even for garments that are otherwise not meant to be couture.

Claire B. Shaeffer, a couture expert, demonstrates four essential basting methods and explains when and why to use them.

Even basting

This basting method uses stitches that are 1/4 inch long and spaced 1/4 inch apart. This version of basting is applied to sew a seam temporarily. Work with a long needle, so you can pick up several stitches in a row. If desired, begin by marking the seamline on the fabric in chalk. Once you’ve basted over the line, the basting itself indicates the seamline. Claire also discusses the proper hand and arm position for efficient, stress-free sewing. When you’r setting a sleeve into an armscye, use even basting stitches.

Uneven basting

In this stitch, you’ll take longer (1/2-inch) stitches, spaced 1/4 inch apart. As for even basting, you can use a longer needle for smooth and easy stitching. Use this for basting seams; a shorter version of this is helpful for securing seams where you must match a pattern, such as a plaid, along a seamline.

Dressmaker’s basting

This style of basting combines even and uneven basting—two 1/4-inch stitches followed by a long stitch. You’ll find this helpful for thread-tracing seamlines, marking garment centers, and marking grainlines.

Diagonal basting stitch

As its name suggests, the diagonal basting stitch forms a row of slanted stitches on the right side of the work; on the wrong side, it looks like a ladder of horizontal stitches. Work top to bottom, with a short needle. The needle travels perpendicular to the seamline, and stitches are about 1 inch long. This versatile stitch comes in…


About This Video Series

This video series features three hours of insider tips and secrets for creating high-end couture garments and home accessories. See an expert at work as Claire Shaeffer illustrates the basic techniques that take sewing to the next level -- from hand sewing and machine stitching to marking methods, pressing, and hemming.

More About this Video Series


  1. etkvamme | | #1

    I made a velvet prom dress for my daughter last year. It had a waste "belt" that was satin ribbon. The dual diagonal basting was the only way to go...otherwise it just wanted to move all over the place! Thanks Claire!

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