Learning to Sew–topstitching

Machine sewing intended to show on the right side of the garment is known as topstitching.  Topstitching is practical, decorative, and easy to master.  Here are a few tips for professional-looking topstitching:


  • A long machine stitch works best for topstitching.  Set the length at about 8 to 10 stitches per inch.  Your machine manual will tell you more about setting stitch length.
  • Loosen the top tension slightly.
  • Buttonhole twist or special topstitching thread can be used, but regular thread looks very nice as well.   If you use a thicker thread, switch to a size 16 machine needle.  Depending upon what your machine can handle, you may need to use the thicker thread only for the upper thread and use regular thread in the bobbin.
  • Secure topstitching at the beginning and end of the stitching by leaving a length of thread to be tied.  Pull the needle thread to the underside using a pin and then tie the bobbin thread and the needle thread in a square knot.  Thread both lengths of thread through a hand needle and hide them by inserting them into the fabric layers.