Types of Topstitching

Types of Topstitching

 Technical vocabulary


Belu Chi

f1eTeacher, what is the difference between Stitch and Topstitch?

This question is more common than what we think, either for students or professionals in the textile industry. And it is not surprising that it is confusing due to a topstitch is a type of stitch. To be more specific, a topstitch is an exposed stitch, which means the stitch is visible from the right side of the fabric…

«A topstitch is a line of stitches which the main characteristic is that it’s visible on the surface of the fabric.»


In Spanish, the origin of the word «topstitch» (pespunte) refers to the hand-made technique where the stitch is made by turning the stitch backward so that it catches the previous hole, and then moving forward: the word «pespunte» comes from the verb «pespuntar» (from the Latin post: back + punctus or punctum: point or puncture).

In English, however, the term «topstitch» describes the main feature of this technique: a stitch on the top of the fabric.


Types of Topstitching

There are quite a few types of topstitching vary depending on the number of stitch lines (usually one, two, or three lines) and the distance to the seam line (or the edge of the fabric for the finishes).

0. Seams Without Topstitch

They are ideal for garments with a clean look. These seams are the most flexible, but they are also the least resistant.


1. Single Topstitch


2. Double Topstitch


3. Triple Topstitch


Topstitching with Flap: the flap gives a decorative touch to the garment. They are widely used in placket and patch pockets.

Off-Seam Topstitching:  they are either wide seams or topstitches completely out of the seam line, such as padded jackets. This type of topstitching is very common on hems and finishes, for example, on wide or faced hems.


Purposes and Uses

From products such as curtains, footwear, and upholstery, to details like plackets, cuffs, and pockets, topstitching has a wide variety of uses and 5 functions:

Tipos de Pespuntes. Pespunte de refuerzo1. Make the seam stronger and maintain the shape

It secures the seam on areas that are prone to tension and stress such as crotches and necklines.


Tipos de Pespuntes, pespunte para pulir costura2. Avoid fraying

For those parts where the seam allowance is not neat or polished, the basic or double topstitch will prevent the fabric from fraying. For example, lined coats or knitted fabrics.

3. Reduce bulk and stabilize the seam allowance

It helps the seam lie flat and secure. It is ideal for heavyweight fabrics, helping to reduce the thickness of the seam allowance underneath.

4. Decorative

To add a decorative touch or to highlight the structure of the garment, making the seam lines more visible, especially if the thread is in contrast color.

Tipos de Pespuntes, pespunte de union entre capas5. Keep two or more layers of fabric together

They are usually the stitch-in-the-ditch and topstitches off the edge. For instance, padded coats: even though the topstitch is a decorative element, its main purpose is to stabilize the padding and hold it together to the fabric. This purpose is also important on upholstery and accessories such as bags and shoes.



Standard Measures


When we make spec sheets of a garment with the Off-Seam Topstitch, we need to specify the required width.


Today we have learned:

                  • what is a topstitch
                  • its terminology
                  • options and names
                  • main purposes and uses
                  • standard measures


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0Belu Chi
Technical Designer ABC Seams®





This article is written in collaboration with:

ABC Seams

ABC Seams



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