Like or Loathe it stay stitching

This is a true confession: I never do stay stitching.

Just to clarify, if you’re not familiar with the term, stay stitching is a row of machine stitches (long or regular in length) made to the edge of a garment to stop it from stretching during construction.  It’s often the first step in sewing a garment.  The stay stitching  remains in there forever, because it’s covered by the collar/ binding/ waistband/ whatever that will permanently stabilise the edge.  Typically stay stitching is used around necklines, waistlines, and sometimes armholes.

Why don’t I do stay stitching?   I can save time if I don’t stay stitch, and I have some other anti-stretching techniques.

Here’s what I do instead:

I try to handle the garment as gently as possible while I sew it.  I don’t allow unsupported areas to hang  and therefore stretch.  For example, I wouldn’t put a partly-made garment on a coat hanger if I thought the unfinished edges would stretch.  When I press, I don’t let the fabric hang off the ironing board -sometimes I set the board up next to a table to put the excess fabric on.

Like or Loathe it stay stitching sewing shoulder seams

When I sew shoulder seams, I stitch them across from one immediately to the other. I leave the link between them uncut until I’m ready to sew around the neck, and that way the neckline cannot be stretched.



To do a fitting, I’ll stabilise the edge beforehand.  I might pin or sew the collar or waistband on to hold the edge firm, or sew cotton tape to an edge if it needs it.  Ok, I might use stay stitching around a neckline (but that’s the exception that makes the rule).


For the occasional times an area has stretched…

Like or Loathe it stay stitching matching edges

I match the stretched edge evenly with the unstretched one, and pin each end, the centre, then the centres of each half, then the centres of each quarter, etc, “walking in” the fullness.  I sew it with the stretched edge underneath.



Like or Loathe it stay stitching finger behind presser foot

If the edge is too stretched to do the above, I put Plan B into action: Sew a line of stitching along the edge with a finger behind the presser foot.  Sew until it’s bunched up then release it and repeat.


Like or Loathe it stay stitching the concertina effect

This results in a mini concertina effect, which brings the edge in just enough.  So I suppose you could argue that I do stay stitch, only just as a fixative not a preventative!


Have fun not stay stitching!







  1. Kay on February 13, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    Wouldn’t it be easier to stay stitch first and then you don’t have to worry so much.

    • lizhaywood on February 21, 2017 at 10:11 pm

      Is everyone else wondering the same thing? I suppose this is just my sewing quirk, or maybe it’s that factory training. Thanks, Kay 🙂

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