How to Topstitch by Hand

Topstitching is a line of stitching on the outside of a garment that either can be solely decorative or both decorative and functional in helping to reinforce a seam. Although topstitching with a sewing machine is much quicker and often results in a more even appearance, some people prefer the look of topstitching done by hand. Hand topstitching generally is done using a saddle stitch and decorative topstitching thread.

Things You'll Need

  • Needle

  • Topstitching thread

Step 1

Cut a length of topstitching thread that is approximately as long as your arm and thread it through a sharp needle. Tie one end of the thread in a knot large enough so that it won't pull through the fabric when you begin sewing.

Step 2

Bring the needle through from the wrong side to the right side of the fabric about 1/4 inch from the edge, making sure that the knot in the end of the thread is not able to come through the hole made by the needle.

Step 3

Make a 1/4-inch backstitch, then bring the needle back up to the right side of the fabric. Begin to sew a straight line of stitching, making each stitch approximately 1/4-inch-long with 1/4-inch spaces between stitches. It may be helpful to use a water-soluble pen to mark every 1/4-inch before you begin sewing to keep your stitches even.

Step 4

Backstitch again and tie a knot in the opposite end of the thread when you've finished your line of topstitching. This will prevent the work from unraveling.

References & Resources