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.
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.
- How to topstitch double-fold tape in place (like binding the edge of a quilt, or the pocket on this free tote bag pattern)
- How to topstitch a seam allowance (used mostly in sportswear)
- How to topstitch the edge of something – like this free placemat pattern or this free cloth napkin pattern.
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. 🙂
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.