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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.

Tue, 25 Feb 2014|

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.