The Back to School Blog Hop is back and I’m excited to participate again this year. We had a great run last year (I talked about all sort of pressing issues – pardon the pun) and it’s back again with 32 sewists and quilters sharing our hard-earned wisdom with y’all. Thanks to the amazing Sam Hunter for spearheading this yet again! Check out the end of this post for a link to all the participating blogs.
If you got your start with sewing in the quilting realm, top-stitching, edge-stitching, and under-stitching can seem a bit foreign when you find them in your apparel/bag/accessory patterns. They sound pretty similar, and they actually are, but each serves different functions in the construction of your sewing project.
Let’s start with the most common: Top-stitching.
This is the one we are most familiar with; it’s used to emphasize the structure of a garment’s design and gives a nice, flat edge to collars and cuffs, pockets and necklines.
Technically the top-stitching should be 1/4″ from the edge, so if you have a 1/4″ foot for your machine, this is the perfect time to break it out. You will get a much straighter stitch line and since the whole point is for the stitch line to show, it’s important. If you don’t have a 1/4″ foot, use something that will bump against the edge of your fabric to keep it in place (a stack of Post-Its work great).
The top-stitching on the denim jacket was done with two stitching lines, 1/4″ apart, but if you’re doing this kind of top stitching someplace where the back won’t be seen (along a waistband, a mock flat fell seam, etc), you can use the wide double needle instead.
The purpose of top-stitching is really two-fold: keep the edge flat and add a design element. The second aspect means it’s a time you can use fancy and/or heavier threads. If you have some nice 30 wt. threads, this is a great way to use them, especially on heavier fabrics such as wool, denim and linens. I used 30 wt. (Coats and Clark) and 40 wt. (Aurifil) red thread on this piece of wool and you can see that the top one shows up a bit better.
But the real difference is the stitch length. Take note that extending your stitch length on top stitching is important. When I use a 4.0mm stitch length, it looks best to me.
On these I used the wide double needle to create parallel top-stitching on wool, merino wool, and canvas. You can see the the coarser wool eats the thread a bit more, so I’d probably want to use an even heavier thread for top-stitching if I really want it to pop, while it shows up beautifully on the canvas.
Edge-stitching is a close cousin to top-stitching, but makes for an even crisper, neater edge. It’s generally used on collars and cuffs, as well as alongside zippers on pouches, pocket edges, bag straps and bag openings.
Stitching line is about 1/8″ (or less) from the edge/fold and is used more as a tool for keeping the edge flat than as a decorative addition. Use a standard weight thread that matches your fabric.
But how do you get it to stay straight, you wonder… a lovely little invention called an Edge-stitch foot (sometimes it is referred to as a Joining foot or Stitch-in-the-Ditch foot). I first stumbled onto it about five years ago when I was teaching at Modern Domestic. I was instantly sold and if you don’t have one already, I want you to head over to your local sewing machine shop and pick one up. Now.
The little guide down the middle keeps your edge straight and with a tick of your needle, you’ll be sewing a consistently straight line down the edge of your piece. It’s a little magic for your machine and adds a whole level of ‘pro’ to your sewing, I promise.
And for the one that confuses too many: Under-stitching. Used almost exclusively in garment sewing, it can be a bit bewildering. It’s a technique that is very important when sewing apparel, though, so make sure you don’t skip it because it seems unnecessary. It can make a huge difference in how a garment lies on the body.
First, you’ll sew your seam, then press with your iron (on an appropriate heat seating) to set the seam. From the wrong side, press the seam allowance toward your facing/lining. Turn it over and press from the right side (use a pressing cloth if needed), keeping the seam allowance to the facing/lining side.
Use your edge-stitch foot, ticking your needle over just slightly to the left, and run the guide down the seam line, sewing the facing/lining to the seam allowance.
You will use a standard weight thread that coordinates with your fabric so it doesn’t show (i used red only so you can see it). Then fold the lining at the seam and it will automatically pull toward the inside, hiding the lining and the hard edge of the seam.
This is the lining of a little girls dress, made with Embrace double gauze, and you can see how neat it makes the whole neckline look, both the back where we can see the facing and the front where the outer fabric curves over beautifully.
So there you have it: Top-stitching, Edge-stitching and Under-stitching. Each has purpose and learning how to master them will make all your sewing and quilting better, more handmade and less homemade. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!
Don’t forget to check out everyone else in the Back to School Blog Hop 2017!
Day 1 – August 15 – Sam Hunter: How to spray baste a BIG quilt – www.huntersdesignstudio.com
Day 2 – August 16 – Mandy Leins: Thread Dread: removing stray bits after quilting – www.mandalei.com
Day 3 – August 17 – Nancy Stovall: The Sweet Creamy Filling – www.justquiltingpdx.com
Day 4 – August 18 – Ebony Love: 7 Indispensible feet for your sewing machine – www.LoveBugStudios.com
Day 5 – August 19 – Michelle Freedman: Machine throat plates – www.designcamppdx.blogspot.com
Day 6 – August 20 – Teresa Coates: Edge/Under/Top stitching – www.crinkledreams.com
Day 7 – August 21 – Kelly Cole: Ten ways to regain your sew-jo – www.vintagefabricstudio.com
Day 8 – August 22 – Megan Dougherty: Choose to Fuse: tips for working with fusibles for applique – www.thebitchystitcher.com
Day 9 – August 23 – Kim Lapacek: Tricks to being productive while hauling your kids around – www.persimondreams.blogspot.com
Day 10 – August 24 – Yvonne Fuchs: Circuitboard quilting on Domestic and Longarm Machines – www.quiltingjetgirl.com
Day 11 – August 25 – Sandi Hazlewood: Chain Piecing Quilt Blocks Tips – www.craftyplanner.com
Day 12 – August 26 – Juliet van der Heijden: Paper-piecing with children – www.thetartankiwi.com
Day 13 – August 27 – Maddie Kertay: Fabric folding for any storage solution – www.badassquilterssociety.com
Day 14 – August 28 – Cath Hall: Working with Lawn fabric – www.wombatquilts.com
Day 15 – August 29 – Tracy Mooney: Tips for the perfect seam – www.sewmuchcosplay.com
Day 16 – August 30 – Teri Lucas: How to bury thread – www.terificreations.com
Day 17 – August 31 – Debby Brown: Securing machine quilting knots – www. higheredhands.blogspot.com
Day 18 – September 1 – Flaun Cline: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 1) – www.ipleadquilty.com
Day 19 – September 2 – Jessica Darling: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 2) – www.jessicakdarling.com
Day 20 – September 3 – Trish Frankland: A bigger blade really IS better?! – www.persimondreams.blogspot.com
Day 21 – September 4 – Lynn Krawczyk: Build a simple design with hand stitching – www.smudgeddesignstudio.com
Day 22 – September 5 – Jane Davidson: How to make scrappy HSTs – www.quiltjane.com
Day 23 – September 6 – Linda Pearl: Low cost tips for organizing your sewing room – www.onequiltingcircle.com
Day 24 – September 7 – Christa Watson – Top 10 tips for quilting on a domestic machine – www.christaquilts.com
Day 25 – September 8 – Sarah Nunes: To Starch or Not to Starch – www.berrybarndesigns.com
Day 26 – September 9 – Suzy Webster: Testing fabric for bleeding – www.websterquilt.blogspot.com
Day 27 – September 10 – Sarah Goer: Machine bind your quilts like a pro – www.sarahgoerquilts.com
Day 28 – September 11 – Vanda Chittenden: Beginner paper-piecing tips – www.chittenden.co.za
Day 29 – September 12 – Cheryl Sleboda: Needle threading tips – www.muppin.com
Day 30 – September 13 – Kim Niedzwiecki – Different thread weights and when to use them – www.gogokim.com
Day 31 – September 14 – Sandra Healy: Conquer Your Fear of Machine Appliqué – www.sandrahealydesigns.com
Day 32 – September 15 – Sandra Starley: The Basics of Antique Quilt Collecting – www.utahquiltappraiser.blogspot.com