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Machine Minute: The Importance of Stay Stitching

Don't come undone! Stay stitching along the edge of your finished quilt top will help keep the seams from breaking apart.

Hi, I'm Jennifer, here with another Machine Minute brought to
you by Baby Lock and the Crescendo machine. Stay stitching--
it's a term that if you have been a garment
sewer, you might be familiar with. Stay stitching is often
used to secure arm holes and waist bands to prevent
them from stretching. But quilters can take advantage of this
technique, as well, and I like to use it after
I've completed my quilt top and before I get ready
to do the quilting on the piece. Now, the reason
stay stitching can be useful is if you have a
a lot of seams along the outer edge of your
quilt--places where you don't just have a border added where
you'd only have maybe four seams. Here, I've got lots
of blocks along the edge of my quilt. And what
can happen is seams can start to break open as
you're working with the quilt and pinning it and basting
it and moving it around as you're quilting. I don't
like to do backstitching at every intersection along the outside
edge, because I don't like the extra thread built up.
But by stay stitching my quilt after I've pieced it
together and stay stitching it around the outside edge a
scant quarter inch, I can secure all of those seams
with one pass. So, here, I've started the stay stitching
and you can see with the dark stitching it goes
a scant quarter inch. And I try to stay within
that quarter-inch seam allowance so it will be covered up
later with my binding. Ordinarily I'd use a matching thread
just in case any of it did peek out, but
in this case I've used a contrasting one so that
you can see it. And let me show you how
I go about adding the stay stitching to secure my
quilt top edges. So to add stay stitching to the
edge, I like to work with the wrong side of
the quilt top up. And you can see I have
lots of intersections along the edge of my quilt. There's
a quarter-inch line on my throat plate here, so I'll
follow that and make sure I stay just inside of
it and that will give me the scant quarter inch.
And I just start sewing along the edge, making sure
that all my seam allowances stay nice and flat. And
this is a place where I like to use this
little device called a sixth finger when I get close
if I need to tuck anything down. And you're not
so concerned about it staying exactly even--you just want it
to stay inside that quarter-inch line on your machine. And
you just sew all the way around your quilt top.
And keeping your seam allowances pointed in the direction you
press them will make sure your quilt top will stay
nice and flat when you go to quilt it, so
you do want to make sure you're paying attention to
the direction. But I'll work my way around all four
sides and then my stay stitching will be done. You
do want to be careful not to stretch your top
during this process, because you want to keep it nice
and square. So when you get to the corner, just
stop with your needle down, pivot, and start sewing again.
Next time you've got a quilt with a lot of
seams along the outside edge, try a round of stay
stitching to secure those seams. I think you'll be happy
with the results.


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