Do you ever change the stitch length on your machine? Or do you just hit a button and go with it no matter what you’re doing? I used to be the latter. And for the most part, things worked out for me. But when I figured out that a little tweak could make a HUGE difference? Total game changer. So let me take a few minutes to explain some different stitch lengths and why they can make all the difference.
Stitch Lengths And Why They’re Important!
We’re going to go over 5 basic stitch lengths and what they’re good for, starting with:
Basting Stitches (5mm)
These are typically the longest stitches you are likely to use. You will want about 5-6 of these stitches per inch. We use these stitches to temporarily hold things in place. Like, for example, if you’re sewing in a zipper. You might use basting stitches on that side seam before installing the zipper. The reason for the long length is to ensure that those stitches are easy to pop right back out when you’re done with them.
Ease or Gathering Stitches (3.5mm)
Gathering stitches will be about 7-8 stitches per inch and are the perfect length for gathering or for an ease stitch when doing things like setting in sleeves. This is long enough to allow the fabric to gather relatively easily, but short enough that the integrity of the thread holds up so that the line does not snap on you while pulling. Do remember, though, that there are many ways to gather fabric… you can find our favorite methods here.
Permanent Stitches (2.5mm)
You will want about 10-12 stitches per inch when sewing seams or permanent stitches. This length promotes the most durability during construction and will also keep your seams from looking puckered, which can happen if the stitch length is wrong. Most machines will default to this length.
Staystitches are used often in garment construction around necklines and armscyes. The purpose of them is to keep the fabric in the same length and position that is necessary for the piece to come out looking right and not warped. As such, staystiches are typically shorter stitches and will usually run between 13-14 stitches per inch.
Top or Edge Stitches (3mm)
The final stitch length we’ll discuss today is topstitching or edgestitching. These are always visible from the top (or outside) of the piece you are sewing, so you want it to be aesthetically pleasing. The recommended length for these stitches should be 8-9 stitches per inch. At that length, it adds both durability and beauty to your garment.
All of these stitches have their place and function, so it’s never a bad idea to practice with them if you are not accustomed to them. Are any of these new to you? Share your stories in the comments below! Also, please consider joining us in our Facebook group for fun, for friendship, for help, for games and contests… we have it all!