Sewing Glossary

What is Basting in Sewing? How to Do a Basting Stitch

Photo of author
Written By Harriet Maher

You’re sitting at your sewing machine, ready to sew together your latest creation. But before you start sewing everything together permanently, you need to baste the pieces in place.

Basting is a temporary stitch used to hold the fabric together before final sewing, and it’s an essential technique in sewing. In this article, we’ll go over what basting is, how to do it, and when to use it.

We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):

What is a Basting Stitch?

The basting stitch is essentially a long-running stitch with the purpose of temporarily holding two or more layers of fabric together. It is a useful way to hold the fabric in place while you sew.

Baste stitching is basically long stitches usually done without any backstitch.

Basting can be removed and replaced with a permanent stitch in a quick manner after the completion of the garment.

It’s advised to use lightweight tacking thread (hand-sewing thread) for basting.

An example of baste stitching is its usage in garment fitting, such as basting the seams together for accurate fitting of the garment before the final sewing with permanent stitches.

Another example is basting the side seams of a skirt to check the fit before the final sewing. In this case, the basting stitch is essentially used for holding underlining to the garment fabric.

A third example of a basting stitch is its application in coat-making by tailors.

As it temporarily holds all the main layers of a coat (the fabric, the interfacing, the padding) for faultless fitting on a client.

basting stitch example

Basting also does wonders in quilt making. The layers of the quilt can be basted together to create a stronghold.

It’s suggested to use a contrasting color thread. This way, it’s more visible and also quicker to remove.

In hand basting, long-running stitches are (1/4 inch to 1/2 inch long) and then swapped by permanent stitches. Hence, conducted either by hand or machine. 

How Do You Do a Basting Stitch in Sewing?

Basting Stitch when done by hand: Pick a contrasting color tacking thread and a needle.

You will want to make a running stitch (6mm-12mm apart) by pushing the needle up and down through the fabric from right to left with stitches 1/4” – 1/2” in length. Finally, make a knot for quick removal. 

To further explore the purpose and how to do a basting stitch, we recommend this video by Meowlory:

When Do You Need to Do a Basting Stitch?

The basting stitch is necessary each time you need to secure two or more layers of fabric on your garments or sewing projects.

You can remove it anytime and make final modifications, such as basting first when sewing sleeves.

This stitch will provide better finishes in all areas of sewing. It is most needed in slippery or velvety fabrics that shift around easily.

Is Basting in Sewing Necessary?

If you do baste stitches, you can create a good flow of sewing without any interruption.

Whereas, sewing with several pins in your material, needs you to stop sewing and remove a pin each time you get to one.

Basting in sewing is necessary because it helps when fitting a garment. Particularly for a beginner.

If you don’t have an idea for a certain garment then basting offers the advantage to measure accurately i.e., whether it fits well or needs alteration.

What are the Types of Basting in Sewing?

There are four types of basting:

1. Hand Basting

Hand basting is used when extra stability is needed that that pins alone can’t achieve.

To further explore hand basting, we recommend this video by Rokolee DIY:

2. Machine Basting

Machine basting requires stitching at the highest setting available. Often used in gathers, set-in sleeves, quilting, and hemming.

3. Pin Basting

Pin basting uses pins to secure the fabric in place for later sewing.

To further explore pin basting, we also recommend this video by Jess OklaRoots:

4. Basting Edges With an Iron

Simply iron on double-sided tapes such as Wonder Tape work.

This can be used as a substitute for pin basting to avoid holes in the fabric.

How Do You Do a Basting Stitch on the Sewing Machine?

Choose the basting option on your machine if you have such an auto function.

To further explore how to do a basting stitch on the sewing machine, we recommend this video by Professor Pincushion:

Final Remarks

Basting in sewing is a great technique and is like having an extra pair of hands.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is basting in sewing necessary?

Basting is not always necessary, but it can be useful in certain situations such as when fitting a garment or when working with delicate fabrics. It allows you to temporarily hold pieces of fabric together before making permanent stitches.

What is the difference between basting and stitching?

Basting is a temporary stitching technique used to hold two pieces of fabric together before a permanent seam is sewn, whereas stitching is a permanent technique used to join fabric pieces together. Basting stitches are typically longer and looser than regular stitches, and are meant to be removed after the final stitching is complete.

Is basting done by hand?

Basting can be done by hand or by machine. Hand basting allows for greater control, while machine basting is quicker and more efficient.