Understitching: A Tutorial

Hi guys!  I’m here today with a super quick understitching tutorial!  It’s a really easy technique, but I know many of you are visual learners like I am, so I thought this might help some folks out.

Understitching is an intermediate (but very easy!) sewing technique.  The purpose is to keep linings, facings, and bindings turned to the wrong side of a garment so they don’t show on the right side.  Even if a pattern doesn’t call for understitching, I highly recommend using it whenever applicable for a professional finish!

I’m going to be demonstrating this technique on the neckline of the Larkspur Dress, which has a facing.  If you want to see what understitching looks like on a binding, check out the Biscayne Blouse tutorial, where it is used around the arms.  The procedure for a full lining is visually the same as for the facing.

Step 1:  First you’re going to sew the facing to the garment where indicated and with your given seam allowance.  For the Larkspur, the first step is to sew the facing to the dress around the neckline.  This version has the optional front notch in the neckline, which will be handy for this tutorial a few steps later.  (The stitches do not reach center back because of the zipper installation method.)  I have already cut into my seam allowances to allow the curved neckline area to turn and press nicely, but that step can be completed after understitching as well.Understitching Tutorial by Hey June Handmade

Step 2: Turn the garment and facing to the right sides.  Press the seam so the front of the garment is ever so slightly rolled to the wrong side.  It’s important that you can’t see any of the facing from the right side of the garment.Understitching Tutorial by Hey June Handmade

Step 3:  Separate the garment and facing to reveal the seam allowances sandwiched between the two.  Understitching Tutorial by Hey June Handmade

Step 4: Position the garment so the seam allowances are laying on the facing.  Move the main garment fabric out of the way.Understitching Tutorial by Hey June Handmade

Step 5: Edgestitch the seam allowances and the facing together.  I use about a 1/8″ seam allowance.Understitching Tutorial by Hey June Handmade

Step 6: Many garments will be sewn in a way where you can’t understitch all the way around the seam.  Things like closures, collars, and decorative notches (like in this pattern) get in the way.  If you encounter such an obstacle, simply stop understitching and lock your stitches.  Then continue understitching as soon as you can on the other side of the obstacle.Understitching Tutorial by Hey June Handmade

Step 7:  That’s it!  Now when you press your garment right sides out you can see that the facing is being held to the inside of the garment and won’t accidentally peek through to the right side.  You also won’t see any understitching on the right side of the garment.Understitching Tutorial by Hey June Handmade

The wrong side of the garment will show the understitching.  You can choose to make your understitching nice and even unlike my wonky example here.  Personal preference! 🙂  As you can see, my understitching stops to allow for turning the notch (technically you can understitch the notch as well, I would just suggest starting a new stitch line for that section so you don’t accidentally catch the front of the garment) and stops short of the center back for zipper installation.  Even though the understitching doesn’t extend around the entire neckline, it is sufficient to hold everything in place.  Also note that a small sliver of the front of the garment is still visible from the inside.Understitching Tutorial by Hey June Handmade

Happy understitching!

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10 thoughts on “Understitching: A Tutorial

  1. Reply
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    January 28, 2017 at 11:55 am

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  3. Reply
    October 12, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Love this tip! But my main question is if you are understitching a knit, do you use a zigzag? I understitched a waistband using a straight stitch and the first time I put my pants on, it broke! What do you suggest?
    thank you!

    • Reply
      October 18, 2018 at 6:28 pm

      Understitching on a knit is so rare, if there’s a facing on a knit I’m guessing it’s a stable one and the opening does not need to be stretched so I would recommend a straight stitch. My Aurora pattern has an interfaced facing that you can understitch and I recommend a straight stitch for that area.

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