Stay stitching happens right at the beginning of the process of producing a fine garment. It is often skipped by the ‘eager to get started seamstress’ (this is often me!) and this is a big mistake.
What is it, why and when should you do stay stitching, you may ask.
Here are the answers:
What is Stay Stitching
- What is staystitching? It is the line of stitches indicated in your pattern instructions to hold curved raw edges in place and prevent them from stretching on the bias cut (diagonal) of the fabric.
- Why should you do stay stitching? The stay stitching is there to prevent unnecessary stretching of the fabric before you even start the job of making up the garment. It will keep the edge from going out of shape.
- When should it be done? If you cut out a pattern with a curved neckline or a v-neck or armholes, then the direction of the pattern will automatically cross the bias of the fabric in some areas. This is where you need to put in your stay stitching.
Now you know the what, why, and when of stay stitching here’s the how.
How to do Stay Stitching
Every commercial pattern will have stay stitching clearly marked.
It is sewn with a smaller stitch, a 2.0 or less, to keep the curving edge firm.
The stitching should be started from the shoulder on one side to the center of the front on a neck curve and then stop.
It is continued from the shoulder on the opposite side to the middle of the front neck to meet the stay stitching from the other side. This keeps each side in check and stops stretching as you sew around the curved edges.
Here are the directions you should stitch your stay stitching in a bodice.
The line of stitching should be done on a single layer of fabric following the seam line but keeping 1/16” under the stitch line (seam allowance) so that when you come to stitch the neckline the stay stitching is not visible.
Don’t forget your facing pieces as they will have curved edges as well and will need to match your main pieces. If you stay stitch the main pieces but not the facings, you may find that they do not match up later.
Stay stitching can reinforce corners or tricky v-neck points.
Stay stitches remain in the garment because they are below the seam line on the inside of the curve and so will not be visible when the neckline and facing are complete.
Simple points to remember:
- Always stay stitch immediately after cutting out your fabric.
- Sew with a small tight stitch (2.0).
- Make sure you stitch from the edge to the center on each side so you keep the sides evenly matched and don’t pull the fabric at all.
- No need to unpick! Stay stitching stays in the fabric even after the garment is sewn….it is STAY stitching.
Don’t be tempted to skip this very important part of preparing your garment for sewing. It really doesn’t take long and will give you a nice looking finished neckline.