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Good habit of the month: Remove that basting!

This month’s habit is one I’d say I am moderately adept at, but so many of you have mentioned it that I thought I’d throw it out there for the month. There’s definitely room for improvement.

Do you remove your basting stitches as you sew? Much like clipping threads, it’s one of those little tasks that seems insignificant but can be annoying to leave until the end.

  • Keep a seam ripper handy. Seam rippers make pulling out stitches a lot easier, so always have one nearby.
  • Add it to your flow. I like to remove basting stitches before I finish a seam, and definitely before I press. I find that establishing a flow for each seam helps: pin -> stitch -> clip-> remove basting -> finish -> press.
  • Use a contrasting color. I don’t think this is as practical for machine basting, but if you’re hand basting, using a different thread color makes the basting more visible and easier to remove.
  • Leave long thread tails. This makes it easier to pul out stitches by tugging on the bobbin threads.

Any other tips for the basting-ignorers out there?

Sarai Mitnick


Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.



December 7, 2012 #

I think I always pull out the basting before I press. I like to do basting or gathering stitches on all pieces before I actually start sewing. I use up the thread left from the previous project so I have a contrast color.


December 7, 2012 #

I use-up leftover bobbins from previous projects. This way, the thread gets used and the bobbins get emptied! The basting threads are in contrasting colors to the garment being sewn so they are easily seen and removed!

Seartle rain

December 7, 2012 #

I have to admit that I don’t pull out my basting stitches unless I have time (which I usually don’t!) . If the basting stitches feel like they’ve added bulk to the seam allowance area then I might pull it out before my next step or just wait until the end of my project. Mostly I’m lazy or in a hurry to produce another project, whether it is version #2 or a whole new project!


December 8, 2012 #

All I can add is that it never hurts to baste! Even though sometimes you might think it’s a royal PITA, it really helps lower the stress levels at the machine!!


December 9, 2012 #

Sometimes a pattern will state that the basting is to be left in place – similar to stay stitching – to add strength, I don’t think it hurts to leave it in sometimes.


December 11, 2012 #

I always try to sew gathering threads inside the seam allowance – so the ends can be clipped but the treads don’t need to be removed.

Lately I’ve been using a contrasting bobbin (or sometimes both threads) when there’s a possibility that the threads would show. I have also tried gathering using the zigzag over dental floss method. The large zig zag stiches are easy to remove (and the floss even easier! LOL) I just haven’t been able to make myself do it that way when there’s more than ~ 25″ of fabric to gather. That a lot of dental floss!


December 12, 2012 #

i remove basting threads and wind them around an empty spool. that way i can reuse the thread for the next basting project. i can usually get 2-3 uses out of a length of basting thread this way. it will eventually get frayed and worn and need to be discarded.


December 12, 2012 #

Great tip. I actually have my old sewing machine as a dedicated basting machine, always loaded with Atomic Red thread. So I don’t have to do any thread switching for basting.
For those who have one, certain sergers can do what is called a ‘chain stitch.’ These are amazing for basting because as soon as you rip it, all you have to do is tug on the end and it completely comes apart in one piece. It’s that simple.
I do ALOT of basting. I sew trousers and jackets, like them to look really high class, so I will serge pockets complete to the facing to the facing ot make sure they lie flat (same with jacket facings), zig zag welts, hems, etc. I’m constantly covered in red thread.
Firs time poster! Love the site, found it while looking to see if there was an easier way to sew fly with facing (and there was, thanks!).


December 13, 2012 #

Why remove the basting stitches, unless they are adding bulk? I don’t do a lot of basting anyway, though, mostly pins and steady precise hands :)


December 16, 2012 #

Here are some reasons you may want to remove basting, at least some of the time:

– It sometimes shows on the outside of a garment. For example, basting for gathering, which is usually done on either side of the seamline. Basting can also be used to create a guideline for pressing hems and such. I do this a lot, and the basting definitely must come out afterwards.

– It can make the inside of the garment look less neat (sometimes). Lots of excess thread and stitching on the seams can get messy.

– Temporary hand basting can come out over time. If you don’t secure the ends, the basting might fall out anyway, resulting in threads hanging off that you have to take care of later.

– It can make the stitching line look a little messy. If you are sewing directly over the basting, which again is not something you always do, you won’t have a single neat row of stitches, and this is definitely visible on hemlines and such.

– Sometimes it adds bulk, or the stitches get pressed into the fabric, causing extra indentations and less smoothness in the seams.

So those are some reasons. You may take it on a case by case basis, of course!


October 22, 2013 #

I’m self-taught, and only on my second project.

As I’m following patterns, it mainly calls to baste, but never calls to re-stitch permanently, or to remove the basted stitches. Am I missing something?

I use a machine to baste, with long stitches.