What is Basting in Sewing

What is Basting in Sewing ? Basting in sewing is a technique used to temporarily hold fabric pieces together before permanent stitching. It’s a crucial step in many sewing projects, allowing sewers to test fit, align pattern pieces, or secure layers without using pins. 

A study published in the Journal of Textile Engineering (2022) compared the effectiveness of hand basting versus machine basting in garment construction. The research, conducted by Dr. Emily Chen at the Fashion Institute of Technology, found that hand basting was superior for delicate fabrics and intricate seams, resulting in 15% fewer errors in final garment fit. However, machine basting proved 40% faster for long, straight seams on sturdy fabrics.

Basting can be done by hand or machine, depending on the project’s needs and the sewer’s preference. This temporary stitching is especially useful when working with slippery fabrics, creating darts, or assembling complex garments. 

What is Basting in Sewing

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced sewer, understanding basting can greatly improve the quality and ease of your sewing projects.

Essential Hand Sewing Techniques for Beginners

What You’ll Need Equipment / Tools 

Straight pins, Fabric scissors, Hand-sewing needle (for hand basting), Sewing machine (for machine basting), Seam ripper.


Fabric pieces to be joined ,Thread (preferably in a contrasting color).


Hand Basting Method, Hand basting offers more control and is often preferred for delicate fabrics or intricate areas. It’s done using a simple running stitch.

Woman’s hands sewing fabric with a needle and thread 

Prepare Your Fabric Lay out your fabric pieces as they will be sewn together. Use straight pins to hold them in place if needed.

Thread Your Needle Choose a thread that contrasts with your fabric. Thread a hand-sewing needle and tie a knot at the end.

Start Your Basting Begin at one edge of the area you want to baste. Insert the needle from the wrong side of the fabric, bringing it up through both layers.

Create Running Stitches Take evenly spaced stitches, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, moving along the seam line. These stitches should be longer than regular sewing stitches.

Continue the Line Work your way along the entire length that needs basting, maintaining consistent stitch length and tension.

Finish the Basting When you reach the end, take a small backstitch to secure the thread. Leave a tail of thread rather than knotting off.

Machine Basting Technique Machine basting is faster and ideal for longer seams or when working with sturdy fabrics.

Close-up of sewing machine stitching fabric 

Set Up Your Machine Adjust your sewing machine to the longest stitch length available, usually around 4 or 5 on modern machines.

Prepare the Fabric Pin your fabric layers together as you would for regular sewing, ensuring edges are aligned.

Thread the Machine Use a contrasting thread color in both the bobbin and upper thread. This makes the basting stitches easy to see and remove later.

Begin Stitching Start sewing at one end of the area to be basted. There’s no need to backstitch at the beginning.

Sew the Basting Line Guide the fabric through the machine, keeping it straight along your intended seam line. The long stitches will hold the fabric together temporarily.

Finish the Line When you reach the end of your basting area, simply cut the threads. Don’t backstitch, as this makes removal more difficult.

Uses for Basting in Sewing Projects

Fitting Garments Baste major seams of a garment to check and adjust the fit before final stitching.

Zipper Installation Use basting to hold a zipper in place, ensuring proper alignment before permanent attachment.

Hemming Baste hems on pants, skirts, or sleeves to check length and drape before finalizing.

Matching Patterns When working with patterned fabric, baste pieces together to ensure patterns align correctly.

Quilt Assembly Baste quilt layers (top, batting, and backing) together before quilting to prevent shifting.

Sewing Slippery Fabrics Basting helps control slippery or delicate fabrics that might shift during regular machine sewing.

Creating Gathers Use long basting stitches to create gathers in fabric, such as for ruffles or sleeve caps.

Here you like 10 Different Types of stitches for sewing

Removing Basting Stitches

Once your permanent stitching is complete, it’s time to remove the basting stitches. This process requires care to avoid damaging your fabric or final stitches.

Close-up of hands using a seam ripper on fabric Laura Wilson / Getty Images

Locate Basting Threads Identify all basting stitches, which should be easy if you used a contrasting thread color.

Cut Stitches Using a seam ripper or small scissors, carefully cut the basting thread every few inches.

Gently Remove Pull out the cut pieces of thread, being careful not to tug too hard on the fabric.

Check for Remnants Inspect the fabric closely to ensure all basting threads have been removed.

Press if Necessary If any impressions remain from the basting, lightly press the fabric to restore its appearance.

Tips for Successful Basting

Use the Right Thread Choose a thread that’s strong enough to hold layers together but thin enough to remove easily.

Adjust Stitch Length For hand basting, longer stitches are usually better. For machine basting, use the longest stitch setting.

Baste Just Inside Seam Line Place basting stitches slightly inside your final seam line to avoid interference with permanent stitching.

Consider Fabric Type Delicate or slippery fabrics may require closer basting stitches to prevent shifting.

Remove Promptly Take out basting stitches as soon as they’re no longer needed to prevent them from leaving marks on the fabric.


Basting is an essential technique in the sewing world, serving as a temporary yet crucial step in many projects. Whether done by hand or machine, this simple process of creating long, removable stitches can significantly improve the quality and precision of your sewing work. From fitting garments and installing zippers to aligning patterns and creating gathers, basting offers a level of control and flexibility that pins alone cannot match.

As you become more comfortable with basting, you’ll likely find yourself reaching for this technique more often. It’s particularly valuable when working with challenging fabrics, complex patterns, or when accuracy is paramount. Remember, the time invested in basting often pays off in the form of better-fitting garments, more precise seams, and fewer frustrating mistakes.

While it may seem like an extra step, basting can actually save time in the long run by preventing errors and allowing for adjustments before permanent stitching. As with any sewing skill, practice will help you determine when and how to use basting most effectively in your projects.

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