2/29 | All About the Basting Stitch

Basting is a skill you’re going to want to learn if you’re planning to do much sewing. It’s one of those things that can make a sewing project easier and give you more professional looking results. If you want to really become a proficient sewist, this is one of those skills that you need to learn and use on a regular basis. And, if you’re thinking of learning to quilt, basting is an essential stitch to help you get your designs together and hold them in place!

You might be thinking – nah! I don’t need basting. I’ll just pin everything together. We’re here to tell you that pinning isn’t always enough. Basting – also called tacking – is a type of temporary sewing used to hold fabric together when pins just won’t do. The stitches are long and can be easily removed once you’ve completed the final sewing of your project. Are you ready to learn all about the basting stitch? Let’s go!

All About the Basting Stitch

Basting stitches can be done by hand or machine. Hand basting is easier to remove than basting done by machine. It’s also easier to control your basting stitch when made by hand and this can be really helpful when working with tricky curves, slippery fabrics, or other sewing challenges.

Some people like to skip basting because, well, it’s an extra step. You baste it all together and then sew it all together. Why do double the work? But this temporary stitching can actually save you time in the end.

When making your own clothing, basting along the seams or with darts and tucks allows you to try out the fit of the garment. Those basting stitches will be so much easier to remove as you adjust the fit of the item than regular stitching would be. Basting is perfect for putting in zippers, applying rick rack and other trim, and holding piping in place too!

Basting is incredibly helpful when you’re trying to sew slippery fabrics. With certain fabrics like silks and satin, you may find that you’d have to use a ton of pins to keep it from moving around as you sew. This means constantly removing pins as you sew. (You don’t sew over the pins, right? That’s just asking for a broken needle!). Using a basting stitch ultimately saves you time and holds your projects together better than pins.


For hand basting, you are simply going to sew with a large running stitch. Be sure to put your knot in a spot where you won’t be sewing over it with your final machine stitching. This can make the basting stitches much more difficult to remove. Don’t baste exactly where your final stitching will be. Move just slightly to one side of it so you can easily remove the basting stitches when you’re done.


For machine basting, once again you’ll use a long stitch. Remember not to backstitch though – you don’t want those basting stitches locked in. They need to be easy to remove! Tip: use a contrasting color of thread to make your basting stitches stand out. This can make it a lot easier to spot them when it’s time to pick them out.

When it’s time to remove the basting stitches, use a seam ripper to pick them out carefully. It’s always best to try to remove them before you do any pressing if you can as this will make them easier to pull out too. Basting stitches aren’t advised for fabrics like leather where the stitch holes will show.

As you can see, basting is a very simple but important skill to have in your sewing technique library. It’s another one of those tasks that can take your sewing projects from basic beginner to looking like they were made by a professional! What will you make with your new basting skills?