How To Understitch



Tired of your lining or facings peeking up from the inside of your garment? Understitching solves this problem! Understitching is simply stitching a line close to the edge of a facing to keep it from rolling toward the outside. It comes in especially handy when sewing around a neckline. It keeps the facing, or lining, firmly on the inside of your garment without any stitches showing on the outside.

You’ll Need:

  • Thread
  • Iron
  • Fabric
  • Scissors


1.) Stitch the two pieces together right sides facing, following the pattern’s seam allowance.



2.) Once the seam has been stitched, press the seam allowance toward the facing or lining. If you’ve sewn a curved area, such as a neckline, this is a good time to clip or notch any curves.


3.) Stitch between 1/8″ to 1/4″ away from the seam line. Here I used an edgestitch foot as a guide.


4.) Press the facing towards the inside of the garment.

5.) You’re done! The inside should look something like the above photo. Your facing will now lay flat with a crisp edge, preventing it from rolling out of place.

Sometimes you will need to understitch a seam that has corners or other hard to reach areas, which makes it pretty difficult. In this case, just understitch as close to the corner as you can get.

Caitlin Clark   —  

Caitlin is the Colette Patterns design assistant. You can follow Caitlin at her blog, the story girl.

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Comments 25


Thanks for this – understitching is one of those simple techniques that I can just never get my head around for some reason. I always have to check how to do it each time.


Thanks for this tutorial. I’ve never actually seen it explained anywhere else before, not even a manual! This way looks SO much easier to manage than the way I’ve always done it which was topstitch on the right side of the neck facing. Thanks again for the clear instructions and great attention to detail!


Came across this from Craft . Very useful explanation. I know how to do this now, but when I first came across understitching in one of my Big 3 patterns I could not make heads or tails out of their directions! This would have helped so much!


[…] bit of finagling….the bodice is self-lined & hand slip-stitched.  And I actually did the understitching, which I have finally learned is a necessary step in getting everything to lay correctly. […]


Thank you!! Best explanation I’ve found!!

Completed project: The Zen-im Beignet Skirt « Stitch and Witter

[…] the facing. I read through the notes on the pattern twenty times, I looked it up and found a fantastic tute on the Colette patterns website. Nada. I just couldn’t translate what I was seeing on the tute to […]


I cannot believe how simple you just made this! A million thank you’s!!!

Burda Top, Seventies Style | Did You Make That?

[…] instructions don’t ask you to under stitch the facings, but I’d really recommend doing […]


I understand what you said to under stitch a lining but is there a way to do it when the lining is attached to the garment? (like a cape)

Jane Calvert

Thank you so much. I have been tearing my hair out trying to understand the instructions on my paper pattern. This is sooo clear!

Understitching – what difference does it make anyway? (and a sneak peek!) « Heavenly Princess

[…] what an amazing difference understitching makes. (If you don’t know what it is, check out this quick tutorial from Coletterie.) I didn’t understand what that extra little line of stitching did. I mean, I knew it was […]


I have no idea what Simplicity was doing when they wrote the instructions for my pattern.

This makes so much more sense now! Thank you.


Agreed! I’m sewing Simplicity 1467 and I was 2 minutes from trashing this thing. WHY must they write they way they do? She Never lets me down and made it possible to finish my top.


Your directions are clear. However, in the future it would be helpful if you in your tutorials your fabrics are more distinct. For a new sewer, I still cannot tell which said is which when I look at your photographs. Thanks for your spirit of sharing.


I am looking at a pattern with couture features. They are saying to understitch certain seams by hand. I’ve never seen/done understitching by hand. Any recommendations on the best stitch/technique?


My friend Carla shared this link when I posted a photo of a satin bodice I topstitched and hated- I can’t wait to try this later today!!!!


I like The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction. It helps me. In it, it says, “Understitching is a row of machine stitching along the edge of the facing that catches the two trimmed seams to the facing.” Which is what I want to do around the collar/interfacings on my Hawthorn. If I do it this way, the stitch cannot be seen from the outside of the garment. Correct?


It is hard to tell in the above photos what is the right side of the garment and if the seam is indeed hidden or as if a top stitch. Could just be me, though. I am making a muslin now and loving the whole pattern!


That is correct, yes!

Prolific Project Starter | Rainy Day Skirt

[…] new sewing vocabulary learntGrade Seam – which via internet search and the diagram I worked out meant trim in half the seam allowance of one layer of fabric. And Understitch which I found a good tutorial for here. […]

Cambie #4: The Instruction/Conference Dress | The Geeky Seamstress

[…] of the neckline, I understitched the lining since I didn’t have quite enough fabric for a facing. At least, not with the […]

A Winter Coat…in Time for Spring | VeryLegendAryee

[…] learned about understitching, slip stitching, invisible stitching, finishing, and so much […]

Jennifer Lauren, The Afternoon Blouse | Did You Make That?

[…] add a second instruction to understitch your facing as far as possible. You won’t be able to get all the way around the decorative […]

Nutmeg: Assembling the Bralette | nutmeg

[…] understitching by stitching the facing to the seam, very close to the seamline. See this detailed tutorial for more […]

Bias-bound inside waistband tutorial | crab & bee

[…] Your inside and outside waistband pieces, sewn together, with the seams where they meet trimmed and understitched […]

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