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Stay Stitching

“Stay Stitch inside the seam allowance” is a fairly common instruction in patterns.  Generally, stay stitching is used to make certain that the fabric of a garment will not stretch out during the sewing process.  It’s also a dandy cheater hem, which will fray (but only so far – it’s a controlled fray).  Sometimes, that’s exactly the look you want.


Stay stitching.
Stay stitching.

Critical Stats:

Width: Variable
Seam Allowance Required: Variable


For stay stitching that is done to prevent stretching during the sewing process (like when you have directions that say to stay stitch before sewing), you’ll want to use a long stitch length and sew just inside the seam allowance.  To use stay stitching as a hem, use a normal stitch length.


Sometimes, things really are that easy.  Well, almost.  If you’re trying for a frayed-looking hem, you might want to start teasing out threads from the seam allowance to get the fraying started.  In theory, you could always wash it a zillion times, but that trick never works when I want it to.  Also, if your goal is to make it look like the hem is just frayed, it’s a good idea to match the thread color to the fabric color.

Now, the obvious question is: Why wouldn’t I just let the darn hem fray?  Well…. Let’s say you’re making some sort of rough peasant-y beggarly skirt, and you want it to look completely wretched, with a hem that looks like the dog’s been chewing on it and a few artistic holes.  You want to make it out of a good, rough woven cloth – something just finer than burlap.  And you don’t want it to self-destruct while you’re wearing it, and are hoping it will last for a while.  This is where stay stitching as a hem is brilliant – you can stitch whatever crazy old looks-like-an-EKG style hem you want, then cut it.  It will self destruct in a nice, controlled manner and never go past the line of the stay stitch.  You could even stay stitch around a few well-placed holes, then cut the threads in the middle and let them fray out.  Voila!  You’ve created the wash-and-wear beggar.

One Comment

  1. February 10, 2013

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    weblog and observed your blog, “Stay Stitching | Sempstress”, will you mind in the event I actually
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