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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

How to Under-stitch (and How it Differs from Top-stitching)

Hi! It's Kristen here. Do you know the difference between top-stitching and under-stitching?  

There's a good chance that you have already learned to top-stitch, because most of our CKC patterns have you do it. I prefer finishing my edges with a top-stitch because it helps them lay flat and secure for the long term, no matter how roughly they are handled. I also like that it is done as the last step on a project, giving it that finishing touch. Basically, you sew along the seam 1/8" from the edge. That's it! See the curved edge below.

There are times, however, when under-stitching can be very useful. For example, if you are using specialty fabrics for a formal dress and don't want your stitching to show on the outside of the bodice, you can under-stitch the neck seam so it still lays flat. You can do the same on armholes, legholes, and any seam for that matter. Under-stitching is done a bit earlier in the sewing steps, and the basic idea is that you open up the lining or facing and sew the lining/facing to the seam underneath. This helps pull the lining/facing away from the main fabric, keeping it from turning out. It is very effective, if that's the look you're going for. See the curved edge below.

We have had requests for a step-by-step tutorial on under-stitching, so let's take a look at how it's done. I'm going to demonstrate on sample scraps: 

I made a practice neckline on the scraps above. The top will be our main fabric and the bottom will be the lining. 

Match up the neck curves with right sides together and sew them together using a 3/8" seam. I used black thread so it would be easy to see. 

Clip the curves by using sharp scissors to make cuts close to the stitching, until you are able to pull the curve out somewhat straight, as shown above. 

Open up the layers with the seam underneath.  Use your fingers to press the seam layers toward the lining.  This is what you will be doing as you sew in the next step. 

At the sewing machine, place the needle so it is 1/8" toward the lining side of the seam. Check to make sure your seam is still on the lining side underneath.  Then sew along the lining fabric, 1/8" from the seam. 

As you come to the more curved parts of the neckline, you will want to gently pull the lining away from the main fabric, keeping the excess curves from getting puckered under the stitches. You want a nice, flat stitch all along the seam. 

When you're done sewing, lay the main fabric out flat. You will notice that the lining automatically lifts up along the curve. This means you did it right! The seam underneath is attached to the lining but not the main fabric, so it will keep the lining pulled back out of the way. 

Flip the fabric so both layers are right side out. On the front you should now have a nice, even neckline curve with no stitches showing. You can iron the fold to set if you want, being careful not to overheat delicate fabrics. 

This is what the back side of the under-stitched neckline will look like. Of course when you do it, you will probably want to use a thread color that matches and it will be hardly noticeable. 

 And there you have it!  Now you know the difference between top-stitching and under-stitching, what they are used for, and how to do them.  Now you can go try them out with all your favorite patterns. 

Let's Create! ~ Kristen