What Is a Top Stitch: Definition
Top stitch or over stitch is a sewing pattern done on the right side of fabric usually for decorative purposes. It can also be functional as in holding a bias binding or a patch pocket in place. It helps facings stay put when used in hems and necklines and gives a garment or accessory a crisp edge. It is commonly seen on jeans, sometimes done in a different thread color. It also adds detailing to pockets and zippers of bags. It is basically a straight line that is sewn at a distance of around ¼-inch or more from the seam line.
How to Top Stitch
- Two pieces of cloth
- A sewing machine
Step 1: Start with joining the two pieces by normally sewing your seam, leaving the recommended seam allowance.
Step 2: Press the seam flat with the seam allowances spread on both sides.
Step 3: Now, you can start sewing a straight line as close or far apart from the seam. It is good if you keep it at a distance of about ¼-inches.
Step 4: If you want, you can repeat it for the other side of the seam. It is known as the double top stitch.
The back side would look like the below image.
- Choose such a thread for top stitching that is of the same fiber as the fabric.
- Select the correct needle for the fabric to prevent pulled or skipped stitches.
- Instead of watching the needle, keep your eye focused on the inside edge of the presser foot. It would be easier to keep the top stitch line straight that way.
- Use a color of thread that closely matches your fabric.
- While making the stitch, keep it parallel to the finished edge.
- Keep the stitch length slightly longer than that used in the seam since long stitches lay smoother.
The zig-zag top stitch is used in the borders of pillow covers, sewing pockets and appliques to garments, at the necklines of t-shirts and on apparels. It gives a nice finish to clothes.
Cool Topstitching Ideas and Uses
You can give a neat, decorative look to faux leather bags, purses, man purses and cross body bag straps with the top stitch. You can sew through a piece of wax paper to make things easier. You can also do it on the pleats of a skirt to hold everything in place.
The other uses of the stitch lie in holding fabric layers in place, for example, seam allowances, lapels of suits, collars, pocket attachments and cuffs. The stitch renders definition and texture to the fabric like quilting. The placement choice of the stitch and the thread give it the desired decorative effect. You just need the right tools and a little practice to get the stitch right. Do strive to keep the lines as straight as possible if you are not making curved designs as such.