Sewing & Pattern making Terms

Stay stitch

As a skilled seamstress or pattern maker, you understand the importance of maintaining the integrity of your fabric during the construction process. One valuable technique that ensures stability and prevents distortion is stay stitching. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of stay stitching, its purpose and how to effectively utilize it in your sewing projects.

What is Stay Stitching?

Stay stitching is a straight stitch applied within the seam allowance of a fabric to stabilize and secure its edges. It prevents stretching and distortion, particularly in curved or bias-cut areas, during the construction process.

The Benefits of Stay Stitching

  1. Prevents Stretching:

Stay stitching acts as a barrier, preventing the fabric from stretching along the seam line during handling and sewing. It preserves the shape and size of the fabric pieces, ensuring accurate and consistent construction.

  1. Maintains Seam Alignment:

By reinforcing the edges of fabric pieces, stay stitching helps maintain the intended seam alignment, preventing shifting or misalignment during subsequent sewing steps.

  1. Facilitates Ease Distribution:

Stay stitching aids in the distribution of ease, especially in areas prone to stretching, such as necklines, armholes, or curved seams. It ensures that the excess fabric is evenly distributed, avoiding puckering or distortion.

When and Where to Apply Stay Stitching

  1. Curved Seams:
  • Stay stitch along the curve of necklines, armholes, or waistlines, ensuring that the stitching is within the seam allowance.
  • This stabilizes the fabric and maintains the shape of the curve during assembly.
  1. Bias-Cut Areas:
  • Bias-cut fabric has a natural tendency to stretch. Stay stitching the edges helps prevent distortion and maintains the correct length and shape.
  1. Delicate or Lightweight Fabrics:
  • Stay stitching is particularly essential for delicate or lightweight fabrics that are prone to stretching or distorting, such as silk or chiffon.
  • Apply stay stitching carefully to avoid fabric damage.

Proper Techniques for Stay Stitching

  1. Stitch Placement:
  • Stay stitch approximately 1/8 inch (3mm) from the raw edge, within the seam allowance.
  • Start and end the stitching at a secure point, such as a notch or seam intersection.
  1. Stitch Length and Tension:
  • Use a regular stitch length, typically 2.5mm, to ensure sufficient strength and stability.
  • Avoid excessive tension that could cause the fabric to pucker or gather.
  1. Direction of Stitching:
  • Stay stitch in the direction that minimizes distortion or stretching.
  • For curved seams, stitch from the outer edge toward the center to help maintain the shape.

Incorporating Stay Stitching into Your Workflow

  1. Pattern Preparation:
  • Identify areas in your pattern that require stay stitching, such as curved seams or bias-cut sections.
  • Mark these areas on your pattern pieces or refer to the pattern instructions.
  1. Stay Stitch Early:
  • Apply stay stitching as one of the first steps in garment construction, preferably after fabric preparation and before handling the fabric extensively.
  • This ensures stability from the start and minimizes the risk of distortion during subsequent sewing.
  1. Follow Pattern Guidelines:
  • Refer to the pattern instructions for specific stay stitching guidelines.
  • Adapt the instructions based on the fabric and your sewing expertise.

Final Words

Stay stitching is a valuable technique that every seamstress and pattern maker should have in their repertoire. By incorporating this simple yet powerful method into your sewing practice, you can maintain the integrity of your fabric, prevent distortion and achieve professional-looking results. Master the art of stay stitching, and you’ll have a strong foundation for creating garments that fit well and stand the test of time.

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Melissa Villegas
Pattern Maker &


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