What Is Stay Stitching? (How To Stay Stitch And What Length)

The word stay has the same general meaning no matter which context you put it in. You want something like a dog to remain in one place while you go and do other activities. Unlike the dog, usually, the fabric remains where you tell it to even if you leave the room.

What is stay stitching? Stay-stitching is a simple single stitch line that keeps the material from stretching or being distorted while you work on other sewing tasks. While it is a simple sewing maneuver to use, not using it can make your dress look unwearable instead of fantastic.

To learn more about stay stitching and what it is all about, just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to know if you have not learned this simple sewing option yet. This stitch may be simple but it makes a great contribution to your sewing projects.

What is Stay-Stitching?


This is an easy-to-do stitch that makes a very big contribution to your sewing project. Some people have said that using this stitch turns something unwearable into a dress that wows those who look at it.

When you apply this stitch you are preventing the fabrics you are working on from stretching out of shape or becoming distorted in some fashion. It holds the material still or stabilizes the fabric so you can get other sewing tasks done.

You use this stitch style on those fabrics which have a bias cut to them and you place it at the edge of the material. Or you can use it on those curved neckline cuts or other curved cuts, to make sure the fabric fits together as it should.

Another name for this stitch is directional stitching as it helps keep the shape of the fabric like it was when you cut it. However, you need to be careful in the direction you sew this stitch as it could distort the fabric if you go the wrong way.

Is stay Stitching the Same as Basting?

No, stay stitching isn't the same as basting. One of the biggest differences between these two stitch styles is that the stay stitch only goes through one layer of fabric while basting stitches go through 2 layers. Then the stay stitch may remain in the material while the basting stitch is removed once you have connected those two pieces of fabric together in a more permanent way.

Some people may think that the two styles are interchangeable but they are not. Then the basting stitch is longer than the stay stitch and its job is only temporary and not a permanent fix to link the two fabrics together.

Plus, you may need a stay stitch on a bias cut piece of fabric or two when you baste stitch. The latter stitch can distort the fabrics if you do not have the stay stitch in place first. These two stitches can be complementary when the time comes.

The key to successful sewing projects is not to give in to temptation and leave the stay stitch step out.

Why is Stay Stitching Important?


Some people feel they can skip this step. When they do they may have to redo some of their fabric pieces because the material stretched, etc. What the stay stitch does for fabric is exactly like what happens when you tell a dog to stay.

The stitch tells the fabric to stay in place. Fortunately, the fabric listens better than the dog will. Then there is some good news when you use this stitch style. It is not normally seen when you are done with your outfit. That is unless you accidentally sewed across a seam line.

What this stitch does is keep the fabric in shape while you get ready to sew the stitch pattern that holds the layers together. That is important if you want a great-looking garment when you are done.

Some sewers think that they are saving time by skipping this step but in reality, they are potentially costing them more time if something happens to go wrong. Those mishaps tend to show up when you are pressing the seams, etc., or adding interfacing.

How to Stay Stitch

There are some interesting techniques you can use. For necklines, you do not stitch the whole front from shoulder to shoulder at the same time. Go from one shoulder to the center front, stop, then go from the same shoulder to the center back.

After that snip the fabric, then sew from the other shoulder to the same two locations. For deep V necklines, you may want to use some stay tape along with the stay stitch as this will stabilize the fabric and prevent gaping from taking place.

The key in sewing these two sections as well as the armholes is to make sure you are going in the right direction. For sleeves, you again start at the front shoulder and then work your way down to the underarm point and then do the same on the back side.

Stay stitches should be used on dresses that have style lines and those princess dresses that have curves to the design. Make sure to sew a line of stay stitches on facing when the fabric the facing is being attached also has a stay stitch line.

Can you Stay Stitch by Hand?


Yes, you can stay stitch by hand. It may take a little more work but it is possible to get the job done without turning on your sewing machine. Keep the stitches short, no longer than about 2 mm, and go in a straight line.

The only drawback to doing this stitch by hand is that you may end up stretching the material as you sew. You have to be careful about handling the fabric while you sew. Use your judgment when you are trying to decide which method to use.

The sewing machine will make the job go faster but it is a quick step no matter which method you use. That is another reason you do not skip this step. It doesn't take long to do and preventing issues will save you time in the long run. it will save you work as well.

How to Stay Stitch By Hand

The first step is to immediately do this stitch right after making your cuts. There is no point in waiting and when you do wait, you add a little risk to your sewing project. Again, make sure you keep the stitch length short, shorter than your normal seam stitches will be.

The shorter the stitch the stronger the hold. Where you should stitch is about 1/8 of an inch inside the edge of the material. Some people say that you should only use a sewing machine when doing this or any other stitch but that is going to the extreme.

You do not have to always use your sewing machine to get a nice stitch line or pattern. As you hand stitch, make sure to go from the outside to the middle. The curves will give you the most trouble and again resist the temptation to straighten the fabric as you sew.

Make sure you take your time and gently turn the fabric as you go. Double-check to make sure the stitches are at an even distance from the edge

Stay Stitch Length


Whether you are sewing by hand or by machine, you want the stay stitch to be short. This provides a stronger hold and should keep the fabric in place as you continue your work. Try to keep the length to no longer than 2 mm.

If by chance you see some stretching take place as you sew, you can pull the piece back to its original shape by taking a pin and breaking every third stitch. Then if you go too tight, you will have to clip a few stitches until the fabric loosens up a bit.

These clipped stitches do not have to be together. The best words to describe where they should be clipped are here and there. Play it by ear where you will break or clip a stitch. The key is to keep the fabric in its right shape.

Stay Stitching a Neckline

In a previous section, we mentioned how to do this bit of sewing. You start from one shoulder and only go to the center front, then stop. After you stop, you go back to the same shoulder and sew to the center back.

Once those two sides are done, you repeat the process with the other shoulder. When you go straight across to the other shoulder, you may end up distorting the fabric and give yourself more work to do than you should have to do.

V necks may need more than just stay stitches to stabilize it. That s why you can use some stay tape to help the stitches hold the fabric in place. The reason you add the tape is to help stop any gaping that may take place.

Also, do not forget to reinforce the corners of the V neck with stay stitches. That is an integral step to make as well. Once you get the fabric stabilized, you can move on to the next portion of your sewing project without fear.

Do you Backstitch when Stay-stitching?

This is not a mandatory step to take. You can do it if you feel more secure about the hold the stitches will have but it is not necessary. Being safe is a good motto when doing this stitch as you want to make sure the fabric does not move out of shape at any time you are working on the material.

If you want to do a backstitch then go ahead. You are not doing anything wrong if you do this step. However, you can merely shorten the length of the stitch even more at the start and again at the end of the stitch line.

That alteration will have the same effect as backstitching will have. This option is up to you to decide if you are going to do it or not. Whatever method works best for you is the one you should take.

If you are pressed for time, it may be best to simply shorten the stitch length and get the line sewn in before you have to go do anything else.

Stay Stitching Knit Fabric


The key to stay-stitching knit fabrics is to make sure the stitch line doesn't cut off any stretch or eliminate the stretch from the fabric. What helps you decide to stay stitch knit fabrics is how the silhouette will look as well as what fabrics will be attached to the edge of the material.

If you need to stabilize the knit material then go ahead and do the stitch. But if the fabric needs to remain flexible and able to move, then opt for a fusible interface material.

The interfacing should be cut on the gross way grain into 3/8 of an inch strips. Then fuse them to the wrong side of the material along any unstable edges. So you have a choice when it comes to stabilizing knit fabrics.

Like the previous section, pick the one option that works best for you and the pattern you are working with. It is up to your judgment and how much time you have available to work on this important part of the project.

Some Final Words

Stay stitching is very important to your sewing project’s look. If you do not use it then you may end up with something that no one would wear. If you leave it out, you are not saving that much time and can end up costing you more time as you redo your work. resist temptation and stay stitch when you need to.

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