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What is it? Staystitching is a row of directional stitching sewn just inside a seamline to help keep the area from stretching during construction, fitting and general handling. Normally, staystitching is done only on curved or angular seams, though it may be done in other areas on unstable fabrics like loosely woven or very stretchy fabrics. Staystitching uses a regular length stitch and it's done through a single fabric layer using thread that matches the project. This stabilizing stitching remains in the garment or project after the construction stitching is complete. When is it done? Staystitch immediately after removing the paper pattern piece from the cut fabric. On unstable fabrics, any handling and/or pressing can distort the cut section causing it not to match corresponding pieces or the original pattern. Where is it done? Common locations are curved and Vnecklines, armholes, angled seamlines like bodice side seams, curved waistlines and all facings that fit these areas. On garments with traditional 5/8" seamlines, staystitching is done 1/2" from the garment cut edge. On placket seamlines (often on bias grain), like zippers or snap openings, staystitching is done 1/4" from the cut edge for added stability. Staystitch pockets and yokes on the 5/8" seamline and use the stitching line as a guide for pressing under sharp, even seamline edges. Never staystitch long bias-cut edges, as they will distort beyond correction. How is it done? Staystitching is traditionally sewn on woven fabrics and the general rule is to stitch from wide to narrow. For example, when stitching side seams, sew from the underarm seam to the waistline; on necklines, stitch from the shoulder point to Taking direction The stitching direction is key to successfully maintaining a project's shape during construction and fitting. Follow these hints for going the right way. Necklines: from shoulder to center V-necklines: from point to shoulder line Neckline facings: from shoulder seam to neckline center on both inner and outer edges; from outer edge to neckline on shoulder seams Round collars: from front/back opening to neckline center Shoulders: from neckline to armhole Armholes: from shoulder to side seam Side seams (bodice): from armhole to waistline Waistlines (bodice and skirt): from side seams to center Hiplines (skirt): from hip notch up to waistline (1/4" from the edge at zipper openings)
the center, breaking the stitching at the center and sewing the opposite side from shoulder point to center as well. Continually stitching a neckline edge would defeat the purpose of sewing with the fabric grain. Staystitching lines cross at adjacent edges as stitching goes all the way from cut edge to cut edge, without regard to seamline width. Why isn't staystitching done on all seamlines? Staystitching can be done on all seamlines (except long bias edges) if desired, but unless the fabric is very loosely constructed, it isn't necessary. Seamlines cut on a straight or nearly straight fabric grain don't tend to stretch during handling. Tip: If you're traveling with a partially constructed project, or don't expect to finish it in a reasonable amount of time after cutting, staystitching will help it maintain its shape for the duration. Is staystitching only for woven garment fabrics? Though most commonly used on unstable woven fabrics, staystitching can also be used on knit fabrics to help them maintain their shape. It's done in the same locations on the knit as on a woven fabric. Staystitching can be helpful on some home decorating projects as well, especially when using loosely woven or otherwise unstable fabrics, and layering multiple fabrics together. Checking size and shape Once staystitching is complete, lay the paper pattern over the stitched pieces to be sure they match for the correct size and shape. If not, gently pull on the stitches with a pin every 2" to 3" to return the distorted piece to the proper size, and lightly press it into shape.
Use a pin to draw up staystitching, shaping a garment section to its original size.
If the staystitching pulled the stitched piece smaller than the original pattern, clip the stitching every 2 to 3" and gently pull it to the matching shape. Clip Tricks When constructing a garment, use staystitching as a guideline for the depth of clipping and notching needed on curved seams. For example, when clipping a neckline opening, clip only to the staystitching, not through it.
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Princess seams are a variation of darts, allowing the creation of a fitted garment through the use of shaped seams. They start at the waist and travel toward the most prominent part of the body in that quadrant of the garment. For example, on a bodice front they travel over or near (within 1 1/2") the bust point, while on the bodice back they travel over or near the shoulder blades. Though less common, skirt or pants princess seams start at the waist and travel over or near the fullest part of the abdomen and/or near the fullest part of the buttocks. Style Options Because the seam always starts at the waist, names of princess seam styles refer to the ending point. Two classic styles of princess seams are shoulder (1) and armhole (2). A princess seam can end almost anywhere— in the neckline (3) or in the center front (4), depending on the garment design. Different From Darts To see how a princess seam is related to darts, place the front and side front pattern pieces of an armhole princess-seamed bodice (5) side by side with a bodice front containing a waist and an armhole bust dart (6). A princess seam is actually the combined waist and bust darts, with the curved lined smoothed between and seam allowances added to the new edges on each pattern piece. Great Grains Many sewers find curved seams easier to sew and fit than curved bust darts. Princessseamed bodices allow for a more precise use of the garment fabric grain than darted bodices, because each pattern piece has its own grainline. This creates more or less distortion of the patterns/stripes/figures on the garment fabric for styling purposes. For example, all of a darted bodice front is cut on the same grain line (7), causing pattern distortion as the darts are sewn. The front of an armhole princess seamed jacket might be cut on the lengthwise grain, while the side front can be cut on the true bias (8) as a design feature.
Sewing Curved Seams The traditional way to sew a princess seam is to start by staystitching the most convex curved piece 1/8" inside the seamline with a small stitch length. Then place the garment pieces right sides together keeping the piece with the convex curved edge next to the feed dogs during sewing. (If you cup your hand, the back of your hand creates a “convex” curve and the inside creates a “concave” curve.) When sewing an armhole princessseamed garment side front to the front, the side front is placed against the feed dogs with the front piece on top of it. The fabric against the feed dogs travels faster than the upper fabric layer, easily easing the rounder curve to the flatter curve. Curves stitch easier and look better when sewn with smaller length stitches. Match the stitching lines of the two pieces when you sew them together, not the fabric edges. Don’t tug the curves to get them to fit, as this will distort the fabric and the garment’s fit. The seamlines on the adjacent pieces should be comparable in length, usually within about 1/2", easily eased by the feed dogs. When sewing princess seams this way, it is easy to stretch the fabric resulting in distortion. To get the seam allowances to lie flat requires clipping into the seam allowance and this also weakens the seams. Quadrant When referring to the body or clothing, a “quadrant” is one quarter—the left front is one quadrant of the human body and the right back is another. A more contemporary approach to sewing princess seams is to re-draw the seam allowances to 1/4" before cutting out the garment and sewing the seams right sides together with the convex curve against the feed dogs. The smaller seam allowance width makes the seams easier to sew without the risk of stretching the fabric edges and the narrower seams don't require clipping to lie flat, so the seam allowances are stronger. Seam Allowance Savvy Since princess seam allowances are curved and primarily on the bias grain, minimal finishing is needed. The seam allowances can be left alone or finished with pinking shears. For ravelly fabrics, a line of three-step zigzagging next to the seam allowance edges will suffice. Serging the seam allowances may add bulk to the area, so test before choosing this option.
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