How to Baste a Hem or Seam

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Basting is used to temporarily hold two pieces of fabric together so you can make sure that the fit or hem length of a garment is correct. Basting can be done with pins, a sewing machine, or by hand.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing Kits
  • Sewing Machine
  • Sewing Supplies
  • Threads Of Contrasting Color
  • Scissors

Machine Basting

  • Place the two pieces of fabric in desired position.

  • Loosen the thread tension on the sewing machine.

  • Set the machine's stitch length at its longest.

  • Stitch along the desired seam or hemline.

Hand Basting

  • Place the two pieces of fabric in desired position.

  • Make a series of running stitches along the hem or seam line.

  • Bring a threaded needle up through the fabric, then down and up again, at 1/4-inch intervals.

  • Take several stitches on your needle before pulling the thread all the way through.

  • Secure the hand basting by taking two backstitches close together.

  • Stitch the fabric permanently after you've made sure that the seam line or hemline is appropriate.

  • Remove the hand basting by carefully picking out the backstitches with the point of a needle.

  • Pull the thread from the knotted end to remove the rest of the thread.

Pin Basting

  • Place the two pieces of fabric in desired position.

  • Insert dressmaker pins through both layers of fabric so that the pins are at right angles to the fabric edges.

  • Place pins 2 to 3 inches apart.

  • Adjust the fabric and re-pin as desired before stitching permanently.

  • Stitch the fabric permanently after you've made sure that the seam line or hemline is appropriate.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use your machine's basting stitch ' a chain stitch ' if this is an option available on your sewing machine model.
  • Use the machine-basting method to transfer pattern markings for pockets and buttonholes from the wrong side of the fabric to the right side. This will allow you to see these markings when stitching.
  • Remove hand basting from a long seam by clipping the thread at regular intervals.
  • Protect yourself when hand sewing by using a thimble.
  • Read your sewing machine owner's manual to determine whether or not the manufacturer recommends sewing over pin basting. If not, remove the pins from the fabric as you come to them.
  • Use the pin-basting method when adjusting hem lengths.

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