How to Topstitch & Edgestitch

Hey, you!

Topstitching and edgestitching are the fraternal twins of machine stitches.

They are essentially the same with one simple distinction…

You topstitch ¼ inch from the fold or edge while you edgestitch ⅛ or less from the fold or edge.

example of edgestitching and topstitching

Whichever you choose, both stitches are simultaneously functional and decorative.

And the beauty of topstitching and edgestitching is that you can use a regular straight stitch, a zigzag stitch, or other decorative stitches. The choice is yours!

Okay, now that you’ve met the topstitch and the edgestitch, let’s talk rules…

NOTE: If you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies, please click HERE!

Rules of Topstitching & Edgestitching

Rule #1: Stitch slowly. This is the only way to end up with a beautiful line of topstitching or edgestitching.

Rule #2: For a prettier, even stitching line, use a slightly longer stitch length like 3.5 to 4.0mm, depending on the weight of your fabric. The heavier or thicker your fabric, the longer the stitch length. Click HERE to learn how to change your stitch length.

Rule #3: When using the heavier topstitching thread, loosen tension slightly. Experiment with loosening the tension in half increments until you get the look you want. Click HERE to learn how to adjust tension.

Rule #4: If your fabric is slippery or very lightweight, use a water-soluble stabilizer or tissue paper.

Rule #5: If you need to pause as you topstitch or edgestitch, do so with the needle DOWN.

Rule #6: Always press your topstitching or edgestitching line after it has been sewn; it makes your topstitching even prettier. I guarantee it!

Okay. Now that you’ve got the 411 on how to topstitch and edgestitch for beautiful results, let’s learn…

How to Topstitch or Edgestitch Like a Pro

I love to be precise. And one of the best ways to topstitch or edgestitch precisely is by using a blindhem presser foot and a quarter-inch foot.

And with these two presser feet, sewing pretty topstitching or edgestitching is child’s play. However, make a test sample with fabric from the project before you begin.

Okay. Once you’ve completed your topstitching test, this is how you do it…

blindhem foot edgestitching

  1. Change presser foot to the blindhem presser foot. Click HERE to learn how to change presser foot.
  2. Then, align the blade of the blindhem presser foot so it is flush with the fold of the fabric; the needle should be to the left of the blade on the presser foot.

The blindhem presser foot is an extremely versatile foot all because of the small, moveable blade divider! It is this blade that is the key to stitching a gorgeously straight topstitch of edgestitch stitching line!

  1. Adjust the needle position to the desired distance from the fold. It is better to adjust the needle position than it is to shift your fabric!
  2. Now, stitch slowly.
  3. If you’re sewing a circle (like a hem), when you come back around to where you started, do NOT backstitch. Instead, abut the ends; then, cut on thread cutter, leaving long threads.
  4. Finally, turn your garment to the wrong side and tug on the bobbin thread tails to lift the loop of the needle threads so you can pull it to the wrong side. Once all threads are on the wrong side, tie a knot twice. This avoids fugly bulk!

pulling the needle thread to wrong side

Pro tip: You could use a quarter-inch presser foot in place of the blindhem foot if you want to topstitch ¼ inch from a fold or edge.

However, if you want two parallel lines of topstitching, why not use both the blindhem and quarter-inch presser feet. And to do just that here’s what you do…

quarter inch foot topstitching

  1. First, use your blindhem presser foot to edgestitch close the fold or edge.
  2. Then, change your blindhem presser foot out for the quarter-inch presser foot; you want your previously edgestitched line to be to the left of the divider on the presser foot.
  3. Next, make sure your needle is in the CENTER position to sew a precise ¼ inch from the fold or edge.
  4. Finally, sew your topstitching line. Make sure to keep the fold or edge of the fabric flush against the divider as you sew.

Alright. So now you know how to topstitch and edgestitch. Here’s something for those of us who like to make bold statements…

Bold Topstitching or Edgestitching

While stitching one or two parallel straight lines is a fine finish, there are options for those of us who love to make a bold statement.

For example, you could…

  • Thread your sewing machine needle with two threads.
  • Use topstitching thread, embroidery thread, or buttonhole thread with a topstitching needle.
  • Use the triple straight stitch.
  • Use any decorative stitch that speaks to you.

The End

Well, if you’ve made it here, you can now add beautiful finishing details to your garments with precise topstitching and edgestitching.

There’s really is so much more you can do with this skill set than just sew straight parallel lines.

I encourage you to take the time to play around with topstitching and edgetitching. And then, be bold!

And remember…

Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn how about presser feet!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn how to change your stitch length and stitch type!

RELATED: Click HERE if you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies!

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