How to Topstitch & Edgestitch

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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.

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 Edgestitch or Topstitch 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 edgestitching/topstitching test, this is how you do it…


  1. Change the presser foot to the blindhem presser foot to edgestitch.
  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 length can make for a prettier result.
  3. Now, turn garment to the right side (RS) and start from a seam if you can. You want to position your needle about two or three stitches from the seam.
  4. Backstitch just two or three stitches. You do NOT want to over shoot the seam. And then stitch forward at a moderately slow speed for a pretty end result.
  5. When you are nearing the seam where you started, stop two or three stitches shy of the seam with your needle DOWN. Now, use your hand wheel to complete those last two or three stitches.
  6. Backstitch just two or three stitches and STOP. See what I mean in the image below. I’m about one stitch off in the image below, but it works…


  1. And as always, finish with a good press.

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.

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


  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.
  3. Next, position your needle so it is ¼ inch from the fold. The black arrow in the image above points to the needle position from the fold.
  4. Now, sew your line of topstitching — make sure to keep the fold of the fabric flush against the blade of the quarter-inch foot as you sew.
  5. And as always, finish with a good press.

Sew easy tip #1: Most modern machines come with a blindhem presser foot. But only some include the quarter-inch presser foot — it often has to be purchased separately.

Sew easy tip #2: My new Babylock Presto II  (and the Brother CS6000i) computerized sewing machine come with instructions for setting the stitch width so that you can use the right edge of the all-purpose presser foot to edgestitch and topstitch precisely. One less presser foot to buy! Now, how cool is that?! Way cool, methinks!


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.
  2. Now turn the garment to the RS and pull out the needle thread as single length of thread.

Simple, don’t you think?!

So 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 edgestitching and topstitching.

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 to change your stitch length and stitch type!

RELATED: Click HERE to see how you can use edgestitching to apply a bias facing to an edge!

RELATED: Click HERE if you’re ready to unleash your dressmaking super powers and learn how to sew a simple dress! Warning: This is a MEGA 5-part series!

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