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, layer a water-soluble stabilizer or a strip of tissue paper close to the feed dog.

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, adjust the blade on your presser foot until the needle position is the desired distance from the fold.

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. Now, 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.
  2. Increase your stitch to 3.0 or 3.5mm. A longer stitch can make for a prettier result. Click HERE to learn all about stitch length.
  3. Now, turn garment to the right side (RS) and stitch slowly.
  4. 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. Then, turn your garment to the wrong side and tug on the bobbin thread tails to lift the loop of the needle thread so you can pull it to the wrong side (WS). Once all threads are on the wrong side, tie a knot twice. This avoids fugly bulk!
  5. As always, finish with a good press. Click HERE to learn how to press hems!

pulling the needle thread to wrong side

Sew easy 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.
  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 blindhem presser foot.
  3. Next, position your needle so it is ¼ inch from the fold.
  4. Now sew your line of topstitching. Make sure to keep the fold of the fabric flush against the divider as you sew.
  5. As always, finish with a good press. Click HERE to learn how to press hems!

Or, you can also do this…

  1. First, use your blindhem presser foot to edgestitch close the fold. You can also use a ridge on your all-purpose presser as a guide.
  2. Then, line up the right edge of your presser with the line of edgestitching.
  3. Sew your line of topstitching.
  4. As always, finish with a good press. Click HERE to learn how to press hems!

Sew easy tip: All modern machines come with a blindhem presser foot. But only some include the quarter-inch presser foot; it often has to be purchased separately.

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 regular thread for the bobbin thread.
  • Use the triple straight stitch.
  • Use any decorative stitch that speaks to you.

How to Undo Topstitching

Since topstitching is visible to the world or decorative, you want it to look as if you really cared. So if it looks wonky, you might need to rip it out, and this is the best way to do so…

  1. Turn the garment to the WS, unpick the bobbin thread. Click HERE to learn how to use your seam ripper!
  2. Now turn the garment to the RS and pull out the needle thread as single length of thread.

Simple, don’t you think?!

Okay. Let’s move on to…

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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