Do you stay stitch your quilts? Pat Sloan says . . .

Have you heard of stay stitching? Many quilters stay stitch their quilt tops before machine quilting. But what is stay stitching, and why would you do it?

Essentially, stay stitching is simply sewing around the edge of your quilt top to stabilize seams. It’s particularly helpful when there are a lot of patchwork seams on the outer edge of your quilt top. With all the rolling, unrolling, scrunching, and smooshing that occurs during machine quilting, or even hand quilting, stay stitching prevents those outer patchwork seams from unraveling.

In her book Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Machine Quilt, Pat Sloan shares how she does stay stitching, and in the video below, she shows you!

Reading this post in email? Click here to view the video.

Find comprehensive how-to instructions for machine quilting—including walking-foot quilting and free-motion quilting—in Pat’s book Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Machine Quilt, along with nine pretty projects to practice your machine quilting on:

From Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Machine Quilt
Projects from
Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Machine Quilt

You’ll be proud of the machine quilting you can do right at home!

Do you stay stitch your quilt tops in preparation for machine quilting? Tell us in the comments!




58 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I stay stitch both quilts that I will be hand quilting on my 3 roller frame and around the quilts that I will machine quilt with my domestic

    Karen on October 13, 2017
  • I stay stitch or serge my quilts

    —Carol on October 13, 2017
  • I have staystiched, but I believe I must have forgotten about the technique b/c it has been awhile since I’ve quilted.

    Anita Jackson on October 13, 2017
  • I never thought of it but will start stay stitching …. and yes i have had to fix a seam that opened up, what a pain….

    —Donna Davies on October 13, 2017
  • I have found, when you make borders by cutting across the grain, it has more stretch. It can ripple/ bubble more from the ease. Even if you had measured both sides the same, one can grow and handy pins helps to keep the size right. Stay stitching will help flatten and take in some of the bubbles. Especially helpful when you try to work in a ripple border of someone else work on the longarm.

    Great tip, Linda, thank you for sharing it! –Jenny

    —Linda Christianson on October 13, 2017
  • I have not done much machine quilting, I mainly hand quilt, but it makes sense. I want to learn free motion quilting on my regular machine.

    —Kay Menefee on October 13, 2017
  • YES! I’m a hand quilter with antique roller frame plus a C-Clamp system and stay-stitch all my quilts to keep seems from pulling apart when pinning on the frame, so…. I’d imagine it would also help a long-arm because they follow the same process pinning quilt edge on rollers. Once you have seems popping during the quilting process, you’ll ALWAYS stay-stitch! I even stay an inch or so at seems on tops with whole cloth border strips.

    I also stay-stitch quilt AFTER quilting and before trimming. I find it makes for easier, flatter and smoother binding.

    —Marianne on October 13, 2017
  • Yes!

    —Marty on October 13, 2017
  • What is the quilt pattern used for the quilt shown in the
    bottom right corner?

    Hi Carol, that’s called Cherry Pie, from the book Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Machine Quilt – the pattern is included. Thanks for your question! –Jenny

    —Carol Purcell on October 13, 2017
  • i do stay stitch my quilts and i also backstitch all the outer seams of the patchwork block.

    —carolyn montgomery on October 13, 2017
  • I stay stitch quilt tops without borders. I ask my customers to do that before bringing the top to me for the quilting. If they forget, I do the stitching before loading the quilt on the frame to avoid splitting seams from the tension placed on the top during the quilting process.

    —Debra on October 13, 2017
  • Yes, so important.
    Sometimes after I have trimmed a block to size, I discover that a few of the seams are not secure anymore. I can be a rather sloppy sewist at times, so I use any measures I can to help me keep it decent looking and together ☺ I also stay stitch at 1/8th inch around some blocks before piecing together.

    —Rosemary Bolton on October 13, 2017
  • I am a machine quilter and zig zag around my quilt sandwich before I do any quilting.

    —Pam Shields on October 13, 2017
  • I’ve not ever used stay stitch on a quilt, only on clothing construction.

    —bookboxer on October 13, 2017
  • I sandwich the quilt and stay stitch then. I think it’s a smart thing to do, as mentioned in the article. there’s a lot of turning and smooshing when machine quilting!

    —Judy Chastain on October 13, 2017
  • Yes, ALWAYS!!!

    —Mary Etherington on October 13, 2017
  • I both stay stitch and run a large basting stitch across the center width and length of the quilt. This allows me to begin quilting at an edge rather than the center if it works better for my design.

    —Anita M on October 13, 2017
  • Coming from a clothing sewing background, I have always stay stitched the outer edges of my quilts when they have multiple unsecured seams. As a long armer, I so appreciate it when my customers stay stitch, especially piano key borders – which are notorious for popping open during the long arm process!

    Ellie Kosnac on October 13, 2017
  • I do some of them. I have a quilt top that my grandmother pieced many years ago that is mostly bias. I stay stitched that one so that I could ease the edges in as I came to them on the frame to try and keep everything as square as possible. Also, I couple of years ago, I was helping a friend quilt a quilt that she had made for her son. She did not stay stitch, and by the time we got to the last row of stitching, she had to take a huge tuck to keep the bottom corner mostly square. Not the best way to do something . . . .

    —Marilyn S on October 13, 2017
  • No, never have in the few quilts I have made, but it makes a lot of sense to do this! I will have to remember to do this in the future.

    —Linda Tucker on October 13, 2017
  • Yes, I stay stitch my tops before quilting, especially the big quilts that I send off to the long-arm quilter. I look forward to reading Pat Sloan’s book about quilting – she provides clear instructions always.

    —Carol Johnson on October 13, 2017
  • Sometimes, especially if I have a lot of seams at the edge (ie a piano key border).

    —Rochelle Summers on October 13, 2017
  • Yes I stay stitch my quilts, I also stay stitch individual blocks if the pieces are cut on the bias.

    —Anne Burden on October 13, 2017
  • Abcolutetly!

    —Suzanne on October 13, 2017
  • I do stay stitch my quilt tops.

    —Peggy on October 13, 2017
  • No, but I will from now on!

    —Diane P. on October 13, 2017
  • Yes! As a machine quilter with almost 2,000 quilts under my belt, it is so helpful, especially on quilts without borders and lots of seams at the edges. Helps when binding too.

    —Sally on October 13, 2017
  • I had never even heard of doing this but I like the idea and may try it in my next quilt.

    —Joanne O'Neal on October 13, 2017
  • I always stay stitch the quilt top.

    —Terri D'Ambrosio on October 13, 2017
  • Instead of just stay-stitching I machine baste a three inch strip of scrap fabric all around the quilt if it has no borders. My long arm quilter can attach clamps to this strip without damaging the body of the quilt and I remove it before trimming and binding. Just remind the quilter not to quilt into the waste strip.

    —Carolyn Cavanaugh on October 13, 2017
  • Personally I don’t machine quilt, I do mine by hand. But, I do hand baste before I quilt it.

    —Debbie Clayton on October 13, 2017
  • I did stay stitching on my last quilt topper as the outside border was a piano border. What a difference that stitching made! The quilt topper previous to this one had rail fence blocks that I constantly fixed while quilting. I wouldn’t hesitate to do stay stitching on all my toppers now.

    —Tannis on October 13, 2017
  • Depends on if I am putting a border on the quilt or not. If not then I stay stitch my quilts.

    —Renea on October 13, 2017
  • I only stay stitch if I have a pieced border, which is pretty rare for me.

    —Sandy May on October 13, 2017
  • Yes, I like to stay stitch my quilt edges especially if I don’t get to quilt them right away. I find I don’t have popped seams I need to fix later on.

    —Mary Smith on October 13, 2017
  • I have not done stay stitching before. I can see how this could be beneficial and I will try this on a small wall hanging next.

    —carol on October 13, 2017
  • I stay stitch ALL major seams horizontal and vertical and then I can focus on free motion knowing that the fabric will not shift

    —Anne Marsaw on October 13, 2017
  • I do not stay stitch but I will in the future! Thanks for posting the tip and demo.

    —Cheri on October 13, 2017
  • As a longarm quilter, I REQUIRE stay stitching on any pieced border. I appreciate stay stitching on any quilt because it keeps the border stable as most quilters cut borders across the grain which has more stretch than cutting lenghtwise. If your border is the least but “wavy” stay stitching can help tighten it up a bit.

    —Linda Bergerson on October 13, 2017
  • I stay stitched my last quilt and thought it made a big difference. I will continue to do this; did so on another one just last night.

    —Marilyn on October 13, 2017
  • Absolutely. Always.

    —Susan on October 13, 2017
  • I always stay stich my edges and find it helps maintain the overall integrity of my quilt shape. Such a short time commitment, such a big difference!

    —Susan on October 13, 2017
  • Yes I do!

    —Sharon Lowy on October 13, 2017
  • I have never done stay stitching before quilting. I have stitched around the edges of the quilt before binding.

    —Barbara on October 13, 2017
  • Have only used stay stitching on pieced borders – after reading all these comments, perhaps I should be doing this step on all my quilts.

    sonja on October 13, 2017
  • No I don’t stay stitch, but I do baste the sides of my quilts.

    —stephanie woodward on October 13, 2017
  • I don’t staystitch my quilt tops before getting them quilted and I’m the longarmer.

    —Frances Claassens on October 13, 2017
  • I have never stay stitched and never had problems

    A. Bouwman on October 14, 2017
  • Somehow it never occurred to me to do this. But I certainly will in the future!

    —Linda Towers on October 14, 2017
  • gostei muito da sua pagina, achei belíssimo o eu trabalho.


    —alice on October 14, 2017
  • I have stay stitched pieced borders, but now thinking that it would be a good habit to use on all of my quilts.

    —Lisa Zook on October 14, 2017
  • Never have. When I know a seam will be on the edge, I will either backstitch to keep it from raveling or do a second, very short row of stitches in the seam allowance. But for a piano key with multiple seams, stay stitching would be practical.

    —Karen on October 14, 2017
  • I’ve not stay stitched any quilt edges including queen sizes. I ma consider it for pieced borders.

    —Janet Sabol on October 14, 2017
  • I didn’t stay stitch quilt edges when I first began quilting, but almost all my quilts for some time have been. I think it helps keep edges straighter, looking neater, and wearing well longer.

    —Ann Williamson on October 14, 2017
  • Yes, I stay stitch The ladies at the Guild said to do it, I just didn’t know why. Thanks for the demonstration.

    —Linda Cwynar on October 17, 2017
  • I have recently started stay stitching while on the long arm frame and as I progress through the length of the quilt. I’m thinking a quick stay stitch before getting to the long arm would actually be better.

    Paula Hedges on October 17, 2017
  • If there is piecing on the outer edge it gets stay-stitched. Solid fabric borders get backstitched at each end of the final border. I got tired of going back and restitching the outer edge seams a long time ago!

    —Bev Gunn on October 18, 2017
  • I glue my quilts together with Elmers Washable school glue – but I do believe I will not include stay stitching the edges too.

    —Martha Morgan on October 19, 2017

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