This post about staystitching is part of the Sewing Seams 101 series here on Serger Pepper.
You can find the whole series schedule here.
Well, this is one of those little things that truly makes the difference
Staystitching (or stay stitching) is used to prevent fabric from stretching and distorting; it’s made with a single row of straight stitches (on a single layer of fabric!), right inside seam allowances (let’s say 1/8″ inside, between the seam line and the raw edge.).
Here’s all that I know about staystitching, and you should know too:
- Usually goes on curved edges, hence cut on bias, like armholes, necklines, waistlines, sleeve caps…; because of their curved nature, fabric ends to be cut on bias = really prone to stretch (that on bias strips is good, not that good in necklines & co.!) while handled, sewn and pressed.
- You must stay-stitch as a first step, right after cutting out your pattern pieces from fabric, before any sewing work begins: only doing that you can prevent those loose-woven fabrics or even knits stretching while you’re manipulating them!
- About stitch length: shorter is better, in this case! I use a 2 for staystitching (as opposite to a 2,5 for stitching regular construction seams and 4 when topstitching) because it better helps make the whole thing stronger and resistant to a whole life of stretching.
- Don’t rely only on pattern instructions: not all of them will tell you to stay stitch… Better know this technique and apply it when needed, or when you see the fabric you’ve chosen can easily loose shape.
- You could think is a step you can easily skip, but I won’t suggest you doing that: you could end with a collar (cut on grain) no more fitting in a stretched bias-cut neckline 🙁
Better staystitch than not, if you’re in doubt!
- This is a permanent stitch, you won’t rip it out once you’ve completed your garment: choose a matching thread color, especially if working with sheers… and please don’t ask me why am I am telling you this 😉
- Staystitching will also make the difference if used with curved piecing (I did it in my Hands-Free Asymmetrical Bag‘s front panel) or also when you add a keyhole (or any other shaped hole) detail to any project: better staystitch all around before you cut it out!
- If you’re sewing a lined (or finished with facing) dress and you’re staystitching its neckline and/or armholes, remember you need to staystitch the same seams on lining/facing pieces!
- If you want to be 100% safe, double-check your staystitched seam lines with the corresponding paper pattern pieces: if you’ve done a great job you’ll see that seam lines will be exactly the same length (and will remain like this during construction!)… if fabric pieces are longer or distorted… better re-do!
- I love to stay stitch along princess seams too, especially if working with fabrics that fray a lot: staystitching helps to keep things together when a lot of clipping and notching seam allowances are involved in helping them stay flat… and princess seams are definitely one of those situations!
- I’ve been taught to sew each side of a curve separately (like a neckline) in the same direction: as a rule of thumb, you should start staystitching from the outer or wider edge towards the center or narrower edge (except for V-necklines, where you need to start from the V point)…
Well, I am lazy, you know! I always staystitch in one only step, trying not to stretch AT ALL the fabric: I gently guide it under the foot without pulling or pushing it… and I’ve never had problems!
Lately, I’ve been following Gail Yellen’s Craftsy class “40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know” (affiliate link) and she’s teaching exactly the same way to staystitch as I do... so I’ll go on doing that!
By the way, absolutely gorgeous class… She shares so many tricks (bias bindings, setting sleeves, button closures, just to name a few) and a lot of them were absolutely new to me, amazing time-saver and a perfect way to move your sewing from “meh” to “wow”…
just my 2 cents 😉
I think that’s all about staystitching… do you have any tips to share? Feel like something is missing?
Please add it in the comments section… I always love to read and answer to my sweet readers <3
See you soon, we’ll go on talking about Sewing Seams 101 – next topics are Topstitching, Edgestitching and Understitching…