Topstitching- Not so Scary!

Stitching on the outside can be scary, as everyone sees it, but never fear…

Topstitching is simply stitching on the outside of a project, usually just in from the edge. It is not only decorative, but it helps create a flat, crisp edge. It can also be done on one or both sides of a seamline to help hold the seam allowances in place, either open flat, or to one side.

Two rows stitched with Dual Duty XP all purpose Topstitch next to or on both sides of the seam.

Typically topstitching is done about 1/4″ from an edge, but it can be sewn wider or narrower, depending on the desired look. There can be one row, or multiples.

Follow these tips for topstitching success:

  • Press the area before topstitching.
  • Use a 1/4″ or edgestitching foot if you have one to help maintain an even distance from the edge or from a seamline.

    Edgestitch foot with raised guide
  • Normally, topstitching is done with a straight stitch, but it can be done with any stitch you like, including stretch or decorative stitches.

    From left to right: All purpose thread, Jeans thread using straight stitch, Jeans thread using stretch stitch
  • Lengthen a straight stitch to make a professional look. A length of 3-5 mm is commonly used for accenting.
  • Never backstitch when topstitching—end the row of stitching inside a seamline, or use a hand needle to bring thread ends to the underside to secure.
  • For prominent topstitching, use heavier thread like Dual Duty XP Heavy, Jeans thread or Machine Quilting Thread through the needle. Use matching All Purpose thread in the bobbin.
  • Don’t have the right thread color in a heavy weight? Use two strands of regular weight thread through the eye of a slightly larger needle size.
  • Topstitch with matching thread for subtlety or with contrasting thread for more impact.
  • Use a topstitching needle with a longer eye to prevent thread abrasion.
  • If you need to turn a corner, use the machine’s needle-down function to turn a sharp corner. If your machine doesn’t have that feature, turn the handwheel to lower the needle into the fabric as you pivot.
  • For multiple parallel rows of topstitching, use a twin needle. Depending on your machine, needles can be up to 9 mm apart.
  • Play with novelty threads for topstitching—like metallics, rayons and muti-colors—they can add an unexpected touch of fun.

For bold topstitching select, Coats Jeans & Topstitching Thread or Coats Dual Duty XP Heavy thread.

Dual Duty XP Heavy Jeans Topstitching Thread in colors