More On Topstitching  

What is it?
Topstitching is a single or multiple set of lines of stitching showcased on the Jackets and pants, either for decorative or functional purposes. It's found on many types of garments, from sporty to formal, tailored to heirloom. The term is often used interchangeably with edge stitching, though generally topstitching refers to a stitching line about 1/4" from the edge or a style line, such as seaming or pockets. Edge stitching, as its name suggests, is done very close to the edge. Occasionally, both types of stitching are used in a single design area. For example, a collar may be both edge stitched and topstitched. Topstitching helps to hold garment layers in place and keep edges flat, or it may be a means of attachment for a design feature, like a pocket or band. On a collar or lapel edge, the added stitching keeps facings rolled under and gives a structured look.

Thread Tricks
Because topstitching is meant to be seen as a design detail, it's often done with a contrast and/or heavy weight of thread for prominence. Many thread companies make a "topstitching weight" in basic colors, and a sometimes in a variety of fibers, including silk.
Topstitching can also be done using regular sewing-weight thread, either in a matching or contrasting color. It's also possible to put two all-purpose threads through a single needle to make a more visible stitching line.

Stitch Smarts
Most topstitching is sewn with a straight stitch, using a slightly longer length than is used for garment construction. When using topstitching thread, it's imperative to lengthen the stitch to create a good quality stitch.
Topstitching can also be done using a triple straight stitch, where the machine actually stitches backward and forward in the same line, creating a more prominent look.
Decorative machine stitches can be used for topstitching if they seem appropriate to the garment styling.

Thinking Straight

Since topstitching is highly visible, it's important that the stitching lines are perfectly straight. Most machines have a presser foot where the distance from the needle to the foot edge is 1/4", which can be used as a guide.
Some machine brands also offer a 1/4" topstitching foot, with a raised edge guide, either fixed or adjustable.

Twice as Nice
Topstitching can also be done using a twin needle to create two rows of straight stitching on the garment right side, spanned by a zigzag on the underside. The two threads may be the same or differing colors. This technique is often used on knits for hemming.

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