Today is the day when you learn the most underrated sewing skill of them all: the Basting Stitch.

Learning how to baste is one of the most useful techniques that seamstresses of all skill levels can take advantage of. After reading this post and practicing your basting stitch on your sewing projects, you will notice the big difference in your sewing garments’ finishes.

Today I will show you how to use a basting stitch by hand and on a sewing machine. Why and when you need to use it, and the best tips and tricks for this amazing technique.

So keep reading, because this is a post you will want to remember.

Basting Stitch

You will also understand the difference between an even and an uneven basting stitch.

And of course, when is it better to make them by hand or when and how to use them on your sewing machine.

Basting Stitch Definition

A baste stitch or a tack stitch is loose running stitches, often alternating long and short used to hold sections of a garment together before machine stitching. This stitch is temporarily and can be easily removed. It can also be used to gather fabric, hold zippers in place and, fitting sleeves.

So, here is the thing. No matter how much of a pro you are at sewing.

Nobody I know has managed to avoid using this kind of stitch on a regular basis.

If you are a beginner at sewing is understandable.

Stitching fabrics together to hold your pieces in place prior to final seams, is a must.

Eventually, as you gain more practice you will be able to sew great without doing this stitch on the easiest parts.

But believe me.

There will be a time when you just won’t be able to sew a neat finish without basting first.

Actually, I know people who have told me that their best work is a result of the good use of a basting stitch.

And they are professionals!

When would you use a basting stitch?

Use a basting stitch every time you need to secure two or more layers of fabric on your garments or sewing projects.

This stitch is particularly useful to achieve better finishes in all areas of sewing. For example, if you need to align a print a basting stitch will help the fabric to stay put while you sew it.

Basting Stitch

Another common use is for when you want to gather fabric.

Even though there are a lot of other easy ways or hacks to gather fabric quickly, you will find that using a basting stitch will get you the best results.

Here are some of the most common cases when you would use a basting stitch:

How do you do a basting stitch?

  1. Use contrast color of thread so you can spot it easily.
  2. Work on flat surfaces so your fabric won’t get any bumps.
  3. Coat the thread with beeswax to avoid tangled threads.
  4. Use a thimble to protect your fingers.
  5. Don’t pull too tightly on your stitches or you will gather the fabric.
  6. Use short stitches for extra control.
  7. Or use long stitches for quicker basting.
  8. Use a sharp, thin and long needle.
  9. Reduce the tension on your machine to pull the threads faster.
  10. To gather use a double stitch.
  11. Stitch above or under the final seam is going to be.
  12. Remove before pressing your seams to avoid marks.
  13. Finish with a Knot that can be easily removed.

Basting Stitch by Hand

To make a basting stitch by hand, choose a contrasting color and thread a needle. Make a small knot at the end of only one of the threads. Then make a running stitch by pushing the needle up and down through the fabric. In the end, make a knot that can be easily removed.

basting stitch by hand

You will baste by hand when you need a rather easy and quick hold of your pieces.

I’ve found I like to do this stitch by hand best, when I am sewing things like zippers, trimming and fabric cut to the bias.

This also works phenomenal with sleeves. Basting a small area like an armhole with a sewing machine can be difficult as you might already know.

A great tip to easily remove your threads after the final seam is to make your stitches ⅛” above or under the final seam is going to be.

This way the threads of the basting won’t be caught with the threads of the machine.

Basting Stitch on Sewing Machine

To make a basting stitch with a sewing machine choose your regular straight stitch and set it at the longest possible length. You can also fix the thread tension to a lower setting so it can be easier to remove.

Basting stitch on sewing machine

Machine basting works best when you need to have precise and neater finishes or when you want an even gathering of fabric.

This is also very useful to avoid fabrics that are cut to the bias to stretch. Because all fabric cut at bias can lengthen or have a certain amount of stretch.

Like when you are sewing a circle or a “V” neckline. Basting will prevent the fabric to deform before you get to sew this part.

length of basting stitch settings by sewing machine
Use the longest length possible to baste with your sewing machine.

Do you have to remove basting stitches?

It depends. If you make your basting stitches inside the seam allowence part and it won’t be visible on the outside, there will be no problem to leave it there.

But if you basting stitch was outside the seam allowence (on the side of the garment) you will need to remove them.

You’ll also need to remove your baste stitch if you need to press the seams open after you sew.

Removing basting stitches is super easy. You can just pull the thread, or use your seam ripper to undo the stitches.

They will come off really easy.

Even and Uneven Basting Stitch (And when to use each)

even and uneven basting stitch

Even Basting Stitch

You will use an even basting stitch when you need a quick and strong and precise holding. Like curves, corners or anything that needs more control.

To make it use several short stitches of about ¼”, leaving the same amount of distance in the spaces between each stitch.

even baste stitch

Uneven Basting Stitch

On the contrary, you will use an uneven basting stitch when you need to secure pieces that don’t require that much control, such as straight lines.

Make this by using longer stitches (about ¾” to 1”) and smaller spaces between stitches.

uneven basting stitch

Now that you know all about basting I am sure that you will have better results in your sewing. Comment below on what do you use basting stitches for.

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  1. This is such a great tutorial. I Love your ideas very well explain.

  2. Great. I baste a lot while watching TV with hubby in evening

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