Sunday, August 25, 2013


One of my goals this year was to (successfully) use topstitching thread on garments. I have three projects I want to make this year that require topstitching:

  1. twill or denim shorts for Isaac

  2. Oliver + S school days jacket for Isaac

  3. Colette Lady Grey jacket for myself

I have successfully completed project #1!

I made Isaac two pairs of twill shorts, topstitched with actual topstitching thread. Earlier this year I made him a pair of corduroy pants. They're ok, but I used regular thread for topstitching which kinda disappears in the corduroy. You can just barely see the faux fly I stitched on the pants. I used Simplicity 2907, for the pants and shorts, which I highly recommend.

I learned many lessons while making the twill shorts with topstitching thread:

  • sew slowly

  • set your stitch length longer- I used 3 for topstitching, I normally use 2-2.5 for sewing garments

  • do not backstitch! Backstitching is likely to create a giant knot of thread on the backside. Instead, leave long tails, pull the top thread to the backside, knot and trim.

  • choose a needle that works for the maximum number of fabric layers you'll be sewing through. This will probably not be a topstitch needle, unless you are sewing with quilting cotton or shirting. If you're topstitching a seam on a pant leg, you're sewing through three layers of fabric - one outward-facing layer, plus two layers of seam allowance. If you've folded the fabric over once for a hem (if you've serged the edge, you can do this) you're sewing through six layers of fabric at the side seams. If you fold the fabric over twice for a hem, as most patterns have you do - you are sewing through nine layers of fabric at the seams. This is a lot of fabric!! While sewing the hem of the twill shorts, I used size 110 denim needles.

  • experiment with bobbin thread - you can use regular thread or topstitching thread in the bobbin. Either way, you will likely need to adjust your bobbin tension. I had to loosen mine by 1/2 turn left (looser). Using regular thread worked best for me for this project.

  • I want to experiment with different brands of topstitching thread. I used a Coats and Clark topstitch thread, which was quite heavy. I've heard Guterman topstitching thread is also quite heavy, but Guterman upholstery thread is not as heavy and works for garments. I think a slightly thinner topstitching thread would work great for non-denim fabric.

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