How to use Topstitching Thread

Elevate the finish of any garment, and emphasize the construction details and seamlines with some cool topstitching!

If you’re sewing denim, canvas or other thick fabric, try using topstitching thread to take it to the next level.  Topstitching thread is thicker than regular sewing thread, and gives a stronger definition to the stitching on heavy fabrics, where regular thread buries itself.

Liz Haywood shows how:

1. Put the machine onto a longer stitch length – try 4.  A longer stitch shows up better – more of the thread’s surface is visible, whereas shorter stitches bury themselves in the fabric.

2. Install at least a size 90/14 needle, if not a size 100/16 needle in your machine. Thick thread needs a thick needle!

You can also buy special denim or topstitching needles.

3. Thread the top of the machine with the topstitching thread and the bobbin with regular thread. What colour should the bobbin be? It can match the topstitching thread or the fabric colour – see which looks best.

TIP: Wind a full bobbin so you won’t run out mid-seam!

4. Do a test sew to see if you like it and to see how your machine sews with the thicker thread.  Do you need to alter the tension slightly?  How about the stitch length?


Don’t reverse at the beginning and end of each seam – it will add unnecessary bulk.  Your machine may not like it anyway.  Instead, leave long threads and tie them off afterwards.

If the fabric is very stiff, set up your machine on a table so you have a large surface to support the fabric and make it easier to stitch straight.

To hide the ends mid-seam: on the wrong side, pull back the bobbin thread hard to expose a loop of topstitching thread. Pull the loop out to give two threads on the reverse side. Check the good side – is there a stitch missing? If necessary, thread the topstitching thread end onto a handsewing needle and sew the missing stitch/es, then take the thread back to the reverse side and tie them off together.

Liz Haywood

To find more tips and techniques, visit our Learn to Sew page – click here