| Sewing Patterns for the Modern Woman - Blog Post: Tips for Better Topstitching

Tips for Better Topstitching

By Allie

Allie is the co-founder of Indiesew and creator of all things pretty on the site. Follow Allie and receive other Indiesew updates by subscribing to the blog.

Tips for Better Topstitching |

I’m back from my 2+ week vacation and I am in full on productive mode. My sewing machine is back from the repair shop, I've got fabric ordered and on its way, and I'm ready to make some stuff. Until then, you get tutorials!

Topstitching is a relatively easy concept, even for a beginner. Topstitching, by definition, is a straight stitch used near garment edges such as necklines and hems, often to help facings to stay in place. But the tricky part of topstitching is that a top stitch is 100% visible. So if your tension is off, your thread doesn’t quite match or you struggle with straight-as-arrow lines, topstitching can be your nemesis. Today, I’m showing you some of my favorite tips to make topstitching much easier.

Thread Weight Selection

All purpose thread is a great universal thread for most sewing projects, but I’m a big fan of trying speciality threads. Top stitch thread is much thicker, and is sometimes called heavy duty thread. The visual difference between to the two is pretty obvious as you'll see later. But, thread weight is a personal preference. If you want your topstitches to be lighter and blend in with your fabric more, use a universal thread. If you want your topstitches to be the center of attention on your new blouse, use top stitch thread. Either way, experiment. You won’t know what you prefer until you try both.

Thread Comparison | Tips for Better Topstitching at

If you do use heavy duty top stitch thread, you don’t need to fill your bobbin with this sometimes more expensive option. Simply fill you bobbin with a universal thread of the same color.

Needle Selection

If you decide to use top stitch thread, then you'll definitely want to use a top stitch needle. Top stitch needles feature an extra large eye for easier threading. Top stitch needles are also a bit larger overall with an extra sharp point so that sewing through four layers of fabric and two layers of interfacing seems like a breeze.

Topstitch Needles | Blog

Foot Selection

You can topstitch with your default sewing machine foot with no problem. I did it for years. Then one day, my friend Sara pointed out a sewing machine foot that would transform my life. It looks like this:

Blind Hem Foot for Topstitching |

This particular foot is called a blind-hem foot. I have used it once for a blind hem and it worked amazingly. But it also works great for topstitching! See that little metal piece that extends below the flat bottom of the foot? That lines up with the edge of your seam, and after you move your needle to the right one step, it sews perfectly straight topstitch lines! The seam allowance is smaller than you would see with a universal foot (around 1/16”), but I love how much faster I can topstitch when I have an edge guide.

So, let’s compare.

You can topstitch with all purpose thread and a universal sewing machine foot.

Top Stitch with Universal Foot | Topstitch Tips

And get this result:

Top Stitched with Universal Thread |

Or you can topstitch with top stitch thread and a blind hem foot.

Top Stitch with Blind Hem Foot | Blog

And get this result:

Top Stitched with Heavy Duty Thread | Blog

Want to see them next to each other? No problem:

Topstitch Comparison | Tips for Better Topstitching

The method you decide to use is nothing more than personal preference. For denim jeans or a skirt you might choose topstitch thread and blind hem foot for a bigger visual impact. For a feminine blouse, an all purpose thread and universal foot might do the trick. Find out what works best for you.

Need some topstitching practice? Try your hand at the Sparrow Top, Sidekick Sling, or the Alder Skirt. Want more tutorial goodness? Make sure you’re following us on Instagram to get the latest Indiesew updates!

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If you struggle with straight-as-arrow lines, topstitching can be your nemesis. Read our Tips for Better Topstitching, and it'll be your best friend. |

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