Baste Sewing

What Hides Behind the Term Baste Sewing and How Inspiring Can Be its Function?

Baste sewing is a simple way to deal with a sewing project where we need to join the sewing fabric temporarily.

It’s not only one of the most commonly used techniques but also the oldest.

We can face the necessity to baste sewing for a few reasons. We’ll tackle them in the article below. 

What is basting in sewing terms? It’s worth mentioning that basting is often referred to as tacking. You’ll see this term more often in British English. The meaning of both words is the same. 

Let’s see what is, how to baste sewing, and what to do to benefit from the art of baste sewing for our garments. 

What is a basting stitch
Image source: Makers Nook

What does baste mean in sewing?

With new terms, there is always a need for accurate definitions. 

So, before we tackle how to baste, let’s get to grips with the detailed baste definition sewing.

Following “The American Seamstress” explanation of basting, we discover that:

“Basting is used to temporarily sew layers together for fitting or to prevent layers from shifting while sewing by machine.”

or as a noun by Vocabulary (to baste vs. a baste): 

“A loose temporary sewing stitch to hold layers of fabric together.”

Tacking, as we mentioned in the introduction, is a synonym for basting.

Hand stitches baste sewing
Image source: Sew Way

Basting is one of many sewing hacks that we invented to gain something out of something else. 

Do you get the joke? 

We kind of sew, use a needle and thread (also read about other sewing supplies), and not sew simultaneously. After all, our final goal isn’t to keep the fabric together, as it is for traditional sewing.  

Threads are there only temporarily. They are used only for keeping the fabric in place while doing something else. That’s smart, isn’t it?

Are you as fascinated by threads as we are? Read about sewing threads types and tips

Basting stitch sewing
Image source: Sew4Home

How do you baste in sewing?

So, we know what the baste is. What we need now is to get to know how to execute the idea of temporary sewing in practice.

In other words, how do we baste? We can do it:

    1. by hand―by sewing long stitches and loosely securing them at each end, and
    2. by machine―by setting it to long stitch length and looser tension; 

Remember to leave the thread ends of each end of the seam long. Don’t back-tack when basting.

Catch up with basics about machine basting on Sew 4 Home

Below, we explain all the types of basting (yes, there are more!) in a neat paragraph. 

Basting in sewing and quilting
Image source: Craftsy

In this YouTube video by Made to Sew, Annika introduces us to the fundamental secrets of basting. 

She covers the topic thoroughly and with chic. 

If you want to have it all explained in one sitting, consider giving an attentive look. Otherwise, stay with us for a detailed basting story with a happy ending!  

For starters, take a look at these tips by The Golden Thimble referring to basting:

    1. Coat the thread with beeswax to avoid tangled threads.
    2. Reduce the tension on your machine to pull the threads faster.
    3. Stitch above or under the final seam is going to be.
    4. Work on flat surfaces so your fabric won’t get any bumps.
    5. Don’t pull too tightly on your stitches, or you will gather the fabric.
    6. A needle you use should be:
      • sharp, 
      • thin, and 
      • long;

      7. For stitches, make:

      • short stitches for extra control,
      • long stitches for quicker basting;

Baste sewing
Image source: Sew4Home

Baste in sewing terms―types

We’ll start this chapter with an online lesson by LTRL Trend – Fashn Guru:

“7 MOST COMMON BASTING STITCHES – What Every Beginner and Non’Beginner Should Know”

As you may have noticed, there are seven main basting stitches to learn to sew

    1. Even basting stitch (also known as a running stitch)

Sewing by hand basting stitches even
Image source: The Daily Sew

    1. Uneven basting
    2. Tailor’s stitch (or diagonal/pad-stitch)

Sewing by hand basting tailor stitch
Image source: The Daily Sew

    1. Back-stitch (the most durable stitch)
    2. Hem-stitch (blind hem stitch)
    3. Overcast or whip-stitch
    4. Catch-stitch or “Punto di Strega” (in Italian) 

An accurate description of all the types and ways to use them, you’ll find in the article by Doina Alexei blog. 

Also, all the baste sewing types explained, along with ways to make them happen, you’ll find on Sewing Hackers

Basting stitch gathering
Image source: Do It Better Yourself

Sewing basting stitch―when to use it?

We know the rules at large: 

If you want to hold layers of our fabric together only temporarily, we should learn how to sew a basting stitch.

Sew your basting stitch at your exact seam allowance or just inside.

One bright tip to follow (also read about other best sewing tips and tricks) is: 

Since you will remove a baste after sewing a later, permanent stitch, consider using a contrasting thread. It will help to locate it quickly later on. 

Attention! Don’t use red thread as it may shed its fibers into the weave of the garment’s fabric. 

How to do baste sewing
Image source: Sewing Land

Besides the general rules, we would love to hear some more details, wouldn’t we? 

We want to understand when, where, and how to use basting in our sewing projects. 

What are the reasons to use basting in your project?

We reached out to Do It Better Yourself to collect these helpful answers:

When to use a basting stitch?  Description An extra tip

Fitting a garment

If you don’t know yet how a particular garment will fit, first make a muslin (i.r. a prototype of your final garment). 

Basting lets us quickly sew the garment, as these stitches take little time to create. 

When you make a muslin and use basting, adjusting seams for a perfect fit of a garment is quick and as easy as pie. 

Zippers

Basting zippers in place in a final project can be tricky. With basting, this issue fades considerably. Since baste stitches prevent the zipper from slipping, a final stitch will be more precise. 

Also, you don’t have to deal with pins (what else do we have in a sewing kit?), so basting wins again.

Baste zippers at: 

    • the exact line of stitching, or 
    • inside the line of stitching; 

Remember to attach a Zipper foot.

Making ruffles

Good old ruffles. These cute sewing extras wouldn’t be achievable without basting. 

Read what other magic you can do with a handful of sewing tools

To create ruffles, all you have to do is:

    • sew two or three rows of basting stitches close together. 
    • separate your top threads from your bottom threads. 
    • holding only your top threads, slide the fabric down to gather it;

Watch this video by National Sewing Circle to find out how to make ruffles on the sewing machine.

You’ll also learn that there are three types of ruffles:

    1. random ruffles,
    2. thread breakage, and
    3. even ruffles;

Doina Alexei also explains what ruffles are and how to sew them, presenting other typologies, such as:

    • circular ruffles,
    • straight ruffles, and others;

Sewing basting stitch
Image source: Doina Alexei

But, we haven’t mentioned a few more possible applications of the basting technique yet.

Do It Better Yourself helped us to see the big picture:

When to use a basting stitch?  Description An extra tip

Easing (adjusting) a sleeve

Do you know what to do not to let your sleeve become tight and restricting? 

You’ll need to sew in an additional woven fabric beneath the main fabric, leaving extra ease to allow the sleeve to move with your arm.

The process of sewing an extra inside sleeve will lead to having your sleeve bigger than the size of your armhole. And this is where you’ll need to reach out to basting.

Sewing trim

Consider a couple of trims, such as

    • rick rack,
    • ribbons, 
    • bias,
    • lace,
    • pom-pom, or 
    • piping;

They are difficult to pin, so it’s better to opt for basting just as with zippers. 

We commonly sandwich trim between two layers. You can imagine why this method makes it nearly impossible to catch in just the right spot. Baste stitch coming in before will do its job here as well. 

Quilting

Basting helps to hold the layers of the quilt together to eliminate any: 

    • shifting of the quilt top, 
    • batting, and 
    • backing. 

You can expect some real trouble if layers of a quilt don’t remain lined up correctly during the quilting process.

We sew basting stitches across the entire quilt and later wholly remove them.

We couldn’t wait to share more about these best sewing tips and tricks

How to baste the curve to achieve this extra ease when moving your arm? 

What you want to achieve is giving the cap a rounded effect rather than letting it be flat. 

    1. Baste the cap of your sleeve, and
    2. gather it just enough for it to fit seamlessly into your armhole;

Temporary sewing
Image source: Doina Alexei

How to perform basting in sewing trim?

    1. baste your trim to one layer of the fabric, 
    2. lay your other fabric over it, and
    3. use your basting stitch as a guide of where to sew your permanent stitch; 

And finally, how to baste a quilt?

From the Craftsy website, we learn that there are at least four ways to handle this one:

    1. Pin basting
    2. Spray basting
    3. Fuse basting
    4. Hand basting

Baste in sewing terms
Image source: Craftsy

Sew4Home mentions a couple of other possible uses of basting, such as home decor and serging.

Consider finding out how else to add the power of basting to your projects.

When it comes to power, there is another way to make your garments stand out. 

Super Label Store excels at pimping your fashion projects up by offering different types of woven labels

 These woven labels, care labels and hang tags are a unique way to get to the level of professionalism without doing much. 

We know that you work on your projects hard, putting your whole heart into them. 

With Super Label Store labels, all you do is go to an intelligent online configurator and order. Just pick a chosen quantity of labels for you (as an individual sewer) or your brand (from start-ups to multinationals) and click to purchase them. 

Superlabel color picking

But also, according to My Golden Thimble, there are several other (sometimes surprising) functions of basting:

    • when fabrics are slippery,
    • to keep a bias binding tape in place,
    • when sewing with stretch fabrics,
    • to gather fabric for skirts, sleeves, and dresses (to gather, use a double stitch),
    • to sewing tricky curves or corners (princess seams or necklines),
    • when pattern pieces are too small, and pins would disturb the process,
    • to test darts and seam allowances for security or test fitting;

Alternatives to basting

Did you know that we can use other techniques to replace basting?

They have the same functions and are used in similar ways but usually require other sewing tools

According to Blog.Treasurie, these are:

    1. Pin basting (do not sew over pins!)
    2. Double-sided and iron on tapes
    3. Basting with Wonder Clips
    4. Improvised basting
    5. Basting spray and glue

Watch how to put Clover Wonder Clips to work with this YouTube video by Sewing Parts Online:

How to remove a basting stitch?

Temporary sewing, by definition, isn’t meant to last.

So let’s see how to take it off when it’s not needed anymore. 

The rule of thumb is that the final stitches shouldn’t be on top of the basting stitches.

Remember, never sew on the final seam allowance when sewing basting stitches.

Otherwise, they will be super hard to remove. 

So, where to sew exactly? About a 1/4 inch inside the final seam allowance.

Preferably, incorporate a thread in a contrasting color. Go for threads such as cotton, water-soluble, or basting-specialized.

Also, even if it may well seem irrelevant, never press your project before removing the basting stitches. It will make them more complicated to take out.

Now use a seam ripper and cut through the stitches:

    • on one end, and
    • through the middle, or
    • through every fifth stitch (if you’ve basted with a shorter stitch length);

Finally, pull out the thread, and take it all out. 

Basting thread sewing
Image source: Do It Better Yourself

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