Learn how to sew perfect top stitching on your next sewing project. It can be both functional and decorative and is used extensively on bags and clothing. Take a look in your cupboard at just how many items have top stitching.
With these 9 simple tips you will be able to add beautiful, neat and even topstitching to all your sewing patterns.
What is top stitching?
Top stitching (sometimes written as one word – topstitching) is simply decorative stitching on the outside of a garment or sewn item. Look at any pair of jeans in your wardrobe and you will see large amounts of top stitching.
In cases where it is used around neck edges, it can also hold facings in place and prevent them from lifting up.
HOW TO TOPSTITCH
Topstitching is done with a straight stitch and can be done with your regular sewing machine foot. Your pattern may specify otherwise, but it is generally done around 1/8-1/4 inch (3-6mm) from the edge.
9 Top Stitching Tips – for great results every time
1. BEST THREAD FOR TOPSTITCHING
Use a topstitching thread. Topstitching threads are usually thicker than regular thread giving a professional and eye-catching appearance. (Read types of sewing threads)
2. BEST COLORED THREAD
Choose an appropriate color thread. If you are a beginner you will be better off choosing a matching thread which will blend into the fabric. More experienced sewers may use a contrast thread. (Read type of sewing thread)
3. BEST SEWING MACHING FOOT FOR TOPSTITCHING
Use a specially designed foot. Most machines come with an edge stitch foot (also called a stitch in the ditch foot.) Depending on how close to the edge your topstitching needs to be, you could also use a 1/4 inch patchwork foot. (Read – 10 best sewing machine feet)
4. BEST NEEDLES FOR TOPSTITCHING
Use the right needles. Most brands have a topstitching needle. Generally, they have a larger eye so the thicker thread can pass through it without catching. This is especially important when you are using thicker threads as they may shred and split if you use a regular needle. (Read sewing needle types)
5. MARK YOUR TOPSTITCHING LINES
If possible mark the line you will be stitching along with removable pen or tailor’s chalk. (Read – best fabric marking tools)
6. BEST STITCH LENGTH
Use a longer stitch length. I generally use a length of 3.0-4.0. This gives a nice even look to your stitches.
7. DON’T BACKSTITCH.
On items where the beginning and ending stitching will show, pull the threads to the back and knot instead of backstitching. (Read how to stop and start stitching)
8. TEST THE TENSION
Before you start topstitching your project, test a scrap of fabric and make sure it all looks great. Adjust the sewing machine tension if necessary.
Incorrect tension is often the major reason your stitching doesn’t look great. Even if you normally have a set position on the dial that works for your machine, different threads may require you to make adjustments. The stitching is often done through several layers of fabric, and so the fabric thickness may also play a major part.
Press after you have sewn. This will meld your stitches into the fabric improving the topstitch look even further.
How to Top Stitch Bag and Clutch Flaps
If you are stitching the edge of a clutch or bag flap, it can help to use a 1/4″ foot to use as a guide.