While topstitching is something you may know about, do you know what understitching is?
Understitching is stitching along the edge of the inside of a garment to keep the lining or facing from rolling out. This type of stitching is helpful when working with wovens or lined bodices.
So how do you understitch?
First, you will sew your seam like normal. For this tutorial I’m making a Quinn Top using rayon challis, a woven fabric. This pattern can be made with a lining or facing. I’m using the facing option.
If you are working with a curve, cut slits into the seam allowance up to, but NOT through, the stitch line. For a V-neck, cut straight into the seam allowance up to the seam to allow the V-neck to turn. This will help your fabric lay flat.
Press the seam allowance towards the lining or facing. Flip the facing or lining wrong sides together, and press again. This creates a crisp line along the seam.
Open your garment up so that the main bodice piece and facing are both right side up. Using a ⅛” seam allowance, stitch the seam allowance to the facing or lining side. If you are sewing woven, use a straight stitch. If you are sewing knit, use can use a stretch stitch such as zig zag or lightning. You can also use a longer straight stitch. I usually use 3.5-4 length. Make sure your main fabric is out of the way so it doesn’t get caught while stitching.
Note: It can be easier to start stitching along a straight portion of the garment and stopping at the tighter spot, like with straps. I often start at the side seam stitching towards the front straps.
Tip: If you have an edgestitch foot, this makes understitching much easier. I put the guide into the seam and move the needle over 1/8″ to stitch there.
Here’s my preference of foot for understitching. The Edgestitch Foot is my favorite, followed by the Clear Foot, then a Regular Foot. Any of these will work.
Understitching can be tricky when getting near corners and straps. Just go as close as you can. Once you’ve understitched, fold the lining or facing back with the wrong side up and press. Steam the seam to get a crisp line.
Wondering when to use understitching?
Understitching is great when you are working with linings or facings. It’s also a step that’s used regularly when working with wovens. You may not see it as frequently while working with knits, but it’s still a useful skill!
Still wondering if you really should add understitching to a garment? Here’s the difference with and without understitching on lined knit bodices. The blue floral DOES have understitching on the bodice of the Carissa pattern. The yellow floral DOESN’T have understitching on the Eloise. You can see how the lining is visible above the front bodice. If a different lining fabric was used than the main, this would be very noticeable.
We hope this helps the next time you’re faced with the challenge of understitching! Happy sewing! 🙂