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How to Topstitch and Edgestitch – Video

How to Topstitch and Edgestitch - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

In this video I showed you how to topstitch beside a zipper and I got an email asking me the difference between topstitching and edgestitching.

Not much!

You’ll run into both terms in different patterns so I thought it would be good to talk about the “official” difference between them. In a nutshell – any stitching done on the top of the fabric (that is – not on a seam that will be hidden) is topstitching.

Edgestitching is just topstitching that runs really close to the edge of the project.

In the video I show you some tips and tricks for doing them both, including examples for three different ways you’ll use them.

One thing that helps me get a nice straight topstitch is my clear presser foot. I made sure to point it out at the beginning of the video, but when I did the editing I realized that it’s hard to see the “clearness” of the foot, so here’s a still photo.

That clear part right around where the needle goes in is invaluable for letting me see exactly how close to the edge I’m stitching. If your machine has a solid metal foot, buying a clear foot is almost always an option. It won’t be very expensive and it will be VERY useful. I’m always a fan of seeing what I’m doing. πŸ™‚

The outline stitching I do around all my applique blocks is also a kind of topstitching. On my current machine I have a foot that’s entirely made of clear plastic called (naturally) a clear applique foot. It’s marvelous!

Here are a few more posts that will help you with outline stitching your applique.

  • How Durable is Straight Stitching? (the most common question I get about my applique method)
  • In What Order Do I Stitch? This post will help you figure out how best to tackle outlining an applique project with lots of pieces.
  • Stitching Eyes and Mouths This post is especially helpful for outlining small pieces and tight curves – like applique eyes.
  • Tips for Scribbly Outlining I like to outline my applique pieces three times – and I try not to be too perfect about it. I’m trying to achieve a sketchbook like of look with my outlining. This post has tips for how to do that.
  • Playing with Thread Weight Sometimes I like to use heavier thread instead of multiple lines of stitching with all-purpose thread. In this post I show what different weights look like, and answer your questions about working with thicker thread.

Happy stitching!


  1. Thank you so much!! That was VERY helpful to me.

  2. Thank you!! This was amazingly clear and very helpful for a beginner! πŸ™‚

  3. That was a really great video.

  4. Thanks ladies! I’m glad it was helpful.

  5. cb SAYS...

    I love the way you teach. Thank you.

  6. Anonymous SAYS...

    Thank you!!! Sewing project with my daughter and needed some help! Think we’ve got it! πŸ™‚

  7. I’m glad it was helpful – and I’m glad you’re sewing with your daughter! I hope she loves it! πŸ™‚

  8. Anonymous SAYS...

    So helpful! Great clear instructions…Thank you!

  9. Maggie SAYS...

    Many thanks for this. Very clear and helpful. The masking taping tip is so useful!

  10. deb SAYS...

    Enjoyed your refresher and hints. I have seen where instead of using tae as a guide, someone suggested using a small pile of post its in front of presser foot. THe postits would give a small ridge to slide against?

  11. Mariette Forget SAYS...

    Hi and thanks a lot! 😎🌸