Staystitch? But I Want To Get Started!

Last Saturday morning I ran through my errands efficiently because I had a fun sewing project that I was excited to start–a wrap coat in a bright Trenna Travis print (Michael Miller Fabrics). I'd been doing a lot of sewing for babies recently, so it was a treat to be doing some garment sewing in a woman's size again.

For a 5/8" seam, staystitch 1/2"
from the cut edge.

Curved seam edges benefit from being 
staystitched before construction.

I took the time to cut out the outer coat and the lining in the same cutting session. Sometimes when I just want to start sewing some pieces put together I put off cutting out the lining until later. This time I even cut and fused the interfacing before I put in a new needle and wound the bobbin.

So I was raring to go. And then what's the first instruction? Staystitching. And lots of it.

Like priming the walls before you paint, staystitching is a necessary–but unseen–part of the sewing process.

What is staystitching, exactly? It's a line of stitching 1/8" inside the seamline on a single fabric layer that helps stabilize the fabric. For the coat I was working on, the staystitching went along the princess seams on the front and back, around the neck line of the coat, and the neck edge of the collar. Then repeat for the lining. Lots of staystitching….

So the question is: Is it really, really necessary? And the short answer is: Yes, it is.

In addition to keeping the fabric from stretching during construction, it also acts as a reinforcement stitch line if you need to clip any curved seams. If you are working with a more loosely woven fabric, it will help keep the fabric edges from pulling out of shape.  

For all the time you will spend putting together your project, staystitching is a very small part. And once you commit to it, it's a fairly relaxing thing to do.

So, do add staystiching to your sewing repertoire. Your sweet, steady seams will thank you for it.

And if you're looking for a great gift for Mother's Day, check out the Craft Tree eBooks.

Have you embraced staystitching? I'd love to hear if you start with it or skip it.

Happy stitching,



Other sewing topics you may enjoy:


Sewing Stitches

23 thoughts on “Staystitch? But I Want To Get Started!

  1. Absolutely start with staystitching! I also impress upon my students that it is one of those steps that ought not be skipped, for exactly the reasons you mention. I also look at staystitching as ‘practice’. I can get used to how the fabric feels and works with the machine. I can double check my tension settings. I can make sure the needle I have chosen is working as I expect and I know that this stitching is not going to show so if it is a little wonky here or there, it really will not matter that much. Hooray for staystitching!

  2. I had an home econonetrics teacher that taught sewing and the first thing we had to do was staystiching on everything we did. And it has been a good idea because I have been doing it ever since – just routine. But makes for a better garment.


  3. yes! I hate to do this preliminary step too. But I sweep or vaccuum the floor before I mop, dust before I polish, shake clothes out before I hang them on the line….I think there are a lot of little necessary things we need to do that seem to slow us down, but actually end up making our jobs easier.
    Did you ever try to fit a collar on a neckline that ‘grew’ in handling the project? Well, I have at least once, maybe more than that.
    So, if you’re working with someone who asks why we need to do this? Make it seem like it’s a fun mezmerizing thing to do. (My granddaughters like to spend time with me in my sewing room) Thanks for asking!

  4. Yes, I use it, especially when working with curves – its a wonderful addition. Also I noticed measuring guide at the end of you sewing machine – I have friends who are beginner sewers and would like to get this for them. Please let me know thanks.

  5. About that little adhesive measuring guide–someone gave that to me once (a long time ago). I wasn’t initially impressed, but thought I’d give it a try. I found I really liked it. Of course, the packing is long gone and I’m not sure who makes it. Does anyone out there recognize this and have a brand name?

  6. Staystitching? Absolutely. It is that important step that makes or breaks a garment. When one staystitches then, they are “starting to sew”.

  7. I’ve been sewing for 54 years, since I was 8. Staystitching was one of those fundamentals my mother and my home ec teachers taught me. As we’ve learned in business, “do-it-right-the-first-time” and it’ll save you grief down the road.
    In talking about your coat brings to mind when I went to a local fabric shop to look for innerlining for my coat. The young store manager said there’s no such thing as innerlining. Ah, youth !

  8. Absolutely staystitch! I learned it’s importance the hard way, when I made a dress out of raw silk, and didn’t quite finish it in one sitting. It hung on a hanger for weeks, and stretched the neckline completely out of shape! I had to do some creative tucks to get it back to the right size–it ended up being a nice design element, but I would rather have planned it than been forced into it! Always, always staystitch! Even, or maybe especially on your muslin!

  9. I absolutely staystitch; many years ago I made a Vogue suite and the jacket had everything you could possibly have in a garmet: staystitching, facing, interfacing, hem interfacing, etc. I had sewn many years just skipping those steps I thought were a waste of time. Since this jacket had 21 pieces to it I decided to follow every instruction to the letter. I even made tailor’s tacks! It took longer to make, but the outcome was unbelievable. I got so many compliment on it. Right up until my cleaning lady decided to help with my laundry and put it in the washing machine where it turned into nothingness! It was made out of linen.

    But the lesson I learned was all those instructions are there to make the garmet the best it can be. If you don’t want the best, skip the instructions and hope for the best.

  10. I always start with stay stitching. I made a garment when was in school years ago and it looked horrible. I hadn’t taken the time to stay stitch and the neckline sagged and stretched all out. It was terrible but I did learn from that mistake and have never repeated it again.

  11. If the directions say “stay stitch,” I do it. I know the reasons for it and know I should follow the instructions from the designers and pattern makers. I want a decent product of which I can be proud. So YES, I STAY STITCH when told to do so.

  12. I tried skipping it once and regretted it, so it’s now something I always do. It’s become enjoyable as you said in your post. I use the chaining technique (wherever possible) to move efficiently. It’s almost like a warm-up before the work begins!

  13. I am glad to read this article; I often look at basic sewing books in my local bookstore and very few even mention staystitching! I often sew with knits so use other techniques to stabilise seams however I always staystitch necklines and other curved seams on woven garments.

  14. Yes, definitely. I don’t skip it as I know it’s there for a reason. Since I don’t get to sew nearly as much as I’d like to be sewing, I find any little bit I get to sew a good thing including staystitching.

    @Rose – are you talking about for the bed of the sewing machine? I just came across mine the other day – just tried to locate it and can’t! The paper insert inside package is blue. I want to say it’s by Dritz but I might be wrong. I think I got it at the Intl Quilt festival in last couple of years.

  15. Yes–I’m wondering what the brand is for the adhesive seam gauge on the bed of my machine. I checked last night, and there is no product name on the edge of the decal. Mine languished in a drawer for months (years?) before I put it on my machine. Hopefully someone has one of these in their notions drawer with the tag still on it.

  16. i do staystitch as a first step. as a bonus on underlined garments, it keeps the upper and lower fabrics from shifting (i’m stay-stitching the fashion fabric to the underline layer) so it can eliminate some of your basting step.

  17. Question: So if I need to clip a curved seam and it has stay stitching, which line do I clip to? The stay stitching line or cut through the stay stitching line to the seam line?

  18. Regarding the measuring guide on Rose’s sewing machine in the pic, I just bought one at my local fabric store. It’s called the “Seam Measuring Guide” it’s by Clotilde. On the paper that came with it, it says they have a website – and a 1800 # – 18007722891. You may be able to find it on or joann or some other site as well. Hope that helps. And yes, I started staystitching when I resumed sewing after a long hiatus. It also helps with fabrics that fray easily.