Strategic Backtack Placement

Strategic Backtack Placement | Grainline Studio

Do you ever think about where your backtacks go when sewing? Or do you just start wherever when you sew things like hems? I’m a huge fan of strategic backtack placement and try to start and stop whenever possible in a non-noticeable place on my garment. I’ll show you what I mean on this Scout Tee sample we sewed up last year!

Strategic Backtack Placement | Grainline Studio

When hemming the bottom of a garment I typically start just behind the side seam. My theory here is this is why we have arms! People will inevitably see the front and back of the garment, but the sides are less studied, especially when your hands are swinging back and forth.

Strategic Backtack Placement | Grainline Studio

When doing a neckline I typically start at the center back since my hair is long enough to cover that and I rarely wear it up. When topstitching a collar stand on a button up shirt I always start at the top center back because that way the collar covers it.

Strategic Backtack Placement | Grainline Studio

And for sleeves, the obvious hidden place is the underarm seam. I start mine here whether it’s a long or short sleeve, sometimes pushing it slightly to the back of the seam line, though this one is pretty centered. I also start cuffs here since they face towards my body.

Maybe this is my perfectionist tendencies showing through but I’ve always done this. For some reason it bothers me seeing a back tack front and center on a neckline. Do you have any backtacking idiosyncrasies? Are you a person who stitches in place to form a knot and avoids backtacking all together? Let’s discuss!

Strategic Backtack Placement | Grainline StudioStrategic Backtack Placement | Grainline Studio

34 replies on β€œStrategic Backtack Placementβ€œ

    • Jen

      If you set your machine’s length to 0 it will stitch in place and make a small knot on the backside of the garment. It only really works if you are stitching with the right side up or else the knot will be on the right side of the garment. Learned this trick from quilting.

      Reply
  • Mary

    Great topic!!

    I’m new to sewing, but have been knitting sweaters for years. When finishing a sweater, we’d never start/end a hem/bindoff anywhere but a seam. For necks, it’s typically a back shoulder (which works even for us with shorter hair), for sleeves the underarm, and for the bottom a side … I’ve translated the same to my sewing. I have used Jen’s recommended back-of-the-neck seam for my neckline bindings, but the topstitching is all started/stopped by the shoulder seam. I don’t backstitch topstitching – I try really hard to capture my upper thread to tie a knot on the inside …but I can’t always find it. I’m glad I’m not the only one πŸ™‚ (maybe I’m making this harder than it should be ??!!)

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    • Jen

      Totally with you on topstitching, but I agree it can be hard to find sometimes, and occasionally I can’t get the top thread through to the bottom. Such a pain! Haha but yeah I feel like as long as whatever you do isn’t front and center you can’t go wrong

      Reply
  • Amanda Farquharson

    I do the exact same. If I do need to end in a visible place and I am seeing something fancy, I also occasionally thread the outer thread into a hand sewing needle and pull it through to the back and hand knot it.

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  • Jenny Bowman

    And just to the back of the inside leg seam on trousers and jeans! I have very short hair so my place of choice on a neckline is just to the back of one of the shoulder seams, though I also do the hand finishing here depending on the fabric.

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  • Katherine

    Well, I am grateful for this post because I have never given this much thought. Now I am eager to get home to check my clothes to see where my backtacks are. Thank you!

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  • Karen S

    Absolutely! And I love some of the suggestions for finishing off that stitching line that had never occurred to me. I’m 70 with 60+ years of sewing under my presser foot and it’s never too late to learn something new πŸ™‚ Thanks!

    Reply
  • Anya

    I am also all for strategic bar tacking! I don’t like seeing bar tacks in a very visible place. I feel that really takes away from the garment. Sometimes, if I remember, I’ll do the bar tack function on my machine (I believe it is the same as reducing your stitch length), but I don’t always think to do it.
    I also second neckline bar tacks just behind the side seam. They feel less noticeable to me this way πŸ™‚

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  • Kelly

    I always do this on bags, to place the backtacking by the side seam, since I was taught this way! BTW – where did this great fabric come from for the Scout tee, it’s adorable!

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  • shoes15

    I usually bartack in the same places as you when I start stitching and use my machine’s knot feature to end. But if I am using contrasting topstitching thread or if the fabric is sheer, I’ll pull the tails through and tie a knot.

    Reply
  • Aless

    If I’m using a contrasting thread or a fabric that shows all stitching, I’ll even ‘walk’ my stitches with the hand crank to get them right on top of each other at the join.Then I thread the end and pull through to the inside,tie a knot and voila!! Yep,I’m a little bit OCD (probably how my son inherited it πŸ™ ).

    Reply
  • faireoudefaire

    I thought I was the only psycho focusing on such details! I am so happy other people do that too πŸ™‚
    When I sew a special garment, or when I use a very delicate fabric, I also do not backtack and prefer to tie knots on the Inside of the garment…

    Reply
  • Jessie

    i never thought about this till this post, and i definitely never learned any method, since i’m self-taught–but i do try to do pants legs at the inner back seam and skirts and shirts at the inner left (i don’t know why i feel like that’s more hidden then the right side!)

    Reply
  • Teresa P

    I always figured that the least visible place to bartack was over the inside seam on sleeve and pant hems. No one’s climbing down off the horse’s back (as my gran used to say) to study that part of your clothing. I finished the neckline on the Scout tees and similar garments the same place you did following the same reasoning.

    Reply

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