Saturday, 24 December 2016

Stay stitch

A good sewing pattern is useless if it is paired with poor workmanship. Stability and control are very important when sewing because your finished garment measurements must match with the pattern measurements. Straight edges which are cut along the weft or selvage are obviously stable and will resist against stretching. On the contrary, curved and oblique edges are unstable and can easily be deformed which can alter the fit of your garment and create plenty of unaesthetic details. This is when stay stitches enter the game, so let's have a quick look at these and how to use them.

One shoulder maxi dress, by Mugler
Wrap mini skirt, Won Hundred

When to use...
Stay stitches are essential with woven fabrics but must be avoided with knits. This is because the stitches will lock the fabric and the seam will loose its ability to stretch. Do not hesitate to stay stitch any other woven garment within its curved seams (armholes, necklines...) or oblique seams (shoulders, style lines...). They can be linking seams like style lines or edges that will be finished with a facing. In this case, it's important to stay stitch the matching edge and on the facing as well. Do not stay stitch hem lines (unless they are finished with a facing) or zip openings.

How to use...
Use a regular straight stitch and set the length according to your fabric thickness. The rule of thumb is: the thicker the fabric, the longer the stitches. Test on a scrap of fabric and shorten the length if puckering occurs or lengthen if the seam is waving. Then, stitch inside the seam allowance, closely along the seam line. It's important to not exceed from the seam allowance because stay stitches are not meant to be removed. The stitches must not be visible on the right side of the garment.

Pattern manipulations & stay tape
The grain line on your pattern can also be modified to help stabilize diagonal hems. For instance, the wrap skirt pictured above is composed of two panels with diagonal hem. To avoid wavy hems, the panels and be placed so that the hemline is parallel to the selvage or weft. The waist line can then be stay stitched and finished with a sturdy facing that was previously fused with interfacing. Stay tapes are also very handy and can be applied along a seam line, on the wrong side of the fabric. They can be paired with stay stitches to strengthen necklines and armholes, or as is, along the zip openings to keep them flat.

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