How to make your own stay tape for stabilising seams


What is stay tape? Basically it stabilises seams, stopping knits and curved, woven, seams from stretching. Mostly used for necklines, armholes and shoulder seams, stay tape is so useful. Usually it is enough to hold the seam length permanently but some of this will depend on placement of seam tape. We use this for The Aeolian Tee / Dress neckline, The Celestial Dress neckline and armholes for the super light fabrics and The Terra Pant, waist seam and front pocket opening.

It is a great alternative to doing a row of stay stitching, which can stretch your fabric just from sewing it in, or from cutting out fuseable interfacing in the shape of your pattern piece, which can get a bit tedious. 

You can buy stay tape pre-made. But it is easy enough to make and you can alter the width, tape and thread weight, according to your needs. 

Making stay tape

  1. Use a light, knit or bias cut woven interfacing, it needs to stretch.
  2. Cut the interfacing into long strips as long as possible 8mm to 12mm wide. On the bias for woven interfacing  and across the stretch for knitted interfacing.

( I have only cut short strips here to illustrate technique. Using a rotary cutter makes this heaps easier.) 

  1. Sew rows of straight stitching down the lengths. Keep the rows 2-3mm from one edge.  Here we have used the blind hem foot as a stitch guide, it's not necessary but if you are sewing metres it does help with lapses of concentration.


Applying stay tape 

  1. Before cutting the length for your project give the stay tape a bit of a stretch to take out any slack.
  2. Run the tape along the sewing lines of the pattern piece, like a measuring tape. Cut to length.
  3. With a dry iron* press tape with the stitched line landing just next to the garments' seam line (a guesstimation is fine).
  4. Try to keep the tape off most of the garments seam allowance. Just cover where your seam will be sewn.  Otherwise it will thicken the seam allowance making it harder to press flat. 

* Steam from ironing can be enough to warp super delicate fabrics. If your fabric is growing just with minimal handling. You can trace your pattern to the fabric, press stay tape in place and then cut out the pattern piece.

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  • Great tip! Re: the illustration where you show sewing rows of stitching before ironing the stay tape to the fabric. How many rows do you suggest? I assume the rows of stitching are to prevent it from stretching. Also, if the pattern calls for interfacing the neck and armhole facings, can you eliminate that interfacing by using this stay tape? Thanks

    Debbie on
  • Thank you for this post. I hadn’t heard of stay tape before and will definitely be making some to use when I make the grandchildren funky tee shirts.

    Barbara on
  • Thanks for sharing . Seems like a money saver also…GREAT TIP!!!!!

    Juanita on
  • Thank much, I have been working on this project since late w/out success.

    I was asked if i could made some arm rest cover for some pedicure chairs for a local salon -

    I used my own made stay tape from black shape flex by pellon. I cut my stripes all 1/2 inches wide
    25" long for each sidd
    10" long for back end
    7.5 long – tapered downward
    for the front end

    I took my peltex template and placed on my knit fabric
    I place my stay tape around my temple, iron

    Using my rotary cutter I cut the fabric 1/2 inch wider all around template, then folding the 1/2 inver over the stay tape.

    I sew close to the inner side of seam all around.

    I then add 3 to 5 rows of elastic thresd to gather the tapered front end of armrest repeat for the back.
    Both sides have sm corded elastic .

    Thanks again

    Shari Martell on
  • A tip that might make this easier is to sew the seam on the interfacing befor cutting it. Gives for better control and possibly be faster in the long run.

    Kristi heckman on
  • Brilliant! Thanks so much for this.

    francesca on
  • Hi—I purchased the aoelian tee pattern a few weeks ago and really love it. But I think you should promote it as a pattern for wovens as well as knits: in fact it is perfect in linen (I know, I’ve made three!). I took a cue from Blogless Anna (saw her dress on pattern review). Anyway, just a suggestion! Thanks for the pattern!

    Joan on

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