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.
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…
Have fun not stay stitching!