Understanding garment stitching

February 12, 2017

Stitching is an integral part of garment design and manufacturing. Stitching influences the garment in many ways. It can determine the look and feel of your clothes. Designers need to familiarize themselves with different stitching techniques to ensure their factories produce quality products.

Here are the most common stitching types:


Topstitching is sewn a quarter inch away from the seam or edge of a fabric. Topstitching is visible on the outside of the garment.  Thus, the stitching stands out and is easily noticeable. Some factories use top stitch thread. This type of thread is thicker than other threads and makes stitching look bolder from the outside of a garment.


Edgestitching is sewn one-eighth inches away from the edge or seam. Edgestitching refers to stitching along the edge of any fabric. It is mainly done on the neckline, waistband or binding. It helps cover the stitch in these areas. Edgestitching gives a complete look to a garment. It can also enhance the aesthetic appeal of the final product. This can be done by using a thread that complements or contrasts with the fabric color.


Stitching on the underside of a garment is called understitching. It holds together the lining to fabric. Since understitching is done underneath the garment, you won’t notice any stitching from the outside of the garment. It is mostly visible along the necklines, around armholes, under collars and cuffs. Understitching helps prevent edges from appearing on the right side of the garment.


A zigzag stitch is a back-and-forth stitch used where a straight stitch will not suffice, such as in reinforcing buttonholes, in stitching stretchable fabrics, and in temporarily joining two work pieces edge-to-edge.


Coverstich is widely used in garment construction, particularly for attaching trims and flat seaming where the raw edges can be finished in the same operation as forming the seam.


Overlock is commonly used for garment seams in knit or stretchy fabrics, for garment seams where the fabric is light enough that the seam does not need to be pressed open, and for protecting edges against raveling. 

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