How to End a Stitch on Sewing Machine

Sewing is an art of making your apparels look better and keep them functional. When it comes to sewing machines, there are plenty of benefits to using it for different purposes.

Different types of sewing are meant for different stitching purposes. When you first bring a stitching machine to your home, it is quite natural that you would need to learn its functionalities in order to stitch better.

There are plenty of stitches that you need to learn in your sewing machines, and an end stitch is one of the important ones without which every other stitch will be incomplete. It is one of the crucial stitches that helps in ending or locking the stitch. It prevents your stitch from opening and provides it a form hold.

It is essential to learn how to end a stitch on your sewing machine. In this article, you will learn about end stitch on a sewing machine and other vital information.

How to End a Stitch on Sewing Machine?

End a Stitch on Sewing Machine

End stitching on a sewing machine is quite different from the hand one. You need to understand the functionalities of your sewing machine and learn the right techniques to make an end stitch. Here are the steps you need to follow to make an end stitch and complete your stitch.

Step 1: Machine Stitch The Fabric

Use any stitching such as straight or zigzag stitching until you reach the end of the fabric to start the end stitch. If you are not familiar with a sewing machine and ending stitches, you must practice it with fabric scraps.

Step 2: Put Your Sewing Machine in Reverse

End a Stitch on Sewing Machine

Almost every sewing machine has a reverse button. Depending on your sewing machine, you must find the reverse button. Generally, it’s a dial with arrows indicating the motion. You need to put it in reverse. Double-check the button before starting the stitch.

Step 3: Start Backstitching

Once you have pressed the reverse button, you need to make 3 to 5 backstitches on your fabric. The machine will start backstitching on your stitches. You can also adjust the stitch length to make your end stitch stronger. It is essential to keep the backstitch shorter, so they don’t unravel.

Step 4: Forward Stitch

Switch the reverse button back to normal and start forward stitching for a couple of stitches. Keep stitching till the end of the fabric. Ensure three lines of thread overlap the end stitch at the end of the fabric before you stop.

Step 5: Lift Up The Needle

Now, you can lift up the needle using the hand wheel. Slide the fabric out of the machine and cut the threads from the last stretch. Give off a finishing touch by pressing the seams properly, and you have learned how to end a stitch.

End stitch is the most crucial part of stitching, without which your stitching will be meaningless. There is no rocket science behind end stitch, all you need to learn is a backward and forward stitch at the end of the fabric, and you are good to go with a securely stitched fabric.

More Ways to End a Stitch on Sewing Machine

End a Stitch on Sewing Machine

There are more than one ways to end a stitch; here are a few more ways in which you can end the stitch more professionally and elegantly:

Stitching in Place

If you feel like backstitching is difficult to control, you may prefer to stitch in place. This is sometimes referred to as a tack stitch. A tack stitch, in reference to ending a stitch, is 5-6 stitches sewn in place to create a knot in the thread to lock it in place. You can do this by turning your stitch length to 0 and sewing 5-6 stitches at the start and stop of every seam.

Some digital machines come with a setting which allows for a basically automatic tack stitch. The symbol for a tack stitch on a sewing machine typically looks like a dot with a circle around it.

Check your machine’s user manual to see if this is an option on your machine. If the tack setting is turned on, when you first start sewing, the machine will first do about 6 stitches in places before the feed dogs engage and move your fabric forward as usual.

Once you get to the very end of the seam you will press the reverse stitch button, and the machine will once again automatically sew another few stitches in place. This makes for a very quick and easy option for securing a stitch.

Tying off Thread Ends

If you experience the machine “eating your fabric” when using either a back stitch or tack stitch (this can happen with delicate fabrics), you may prefer the securing method of tying off your thread ends. Additionally this method may be visually superior on stitches where the beginning and end of the stitch will be visible.

To do this you will sew your seam without any backstitching, but make sure to leave long thread tails on each side of the seam. After the seam is sewn, use a needle or seam ripper to bring all thread ends to the back and then tie them together with a knot.

This is also the proper method for ending stitches at the point of a dart. Back stitching or stitching in place can create a pucker at the dart tip, so it is always essential to lock in your stitches by tying off the ends when sewing a dart.

Decrease The Length

In case your sewing machine does not have backstitch or stitch in place options, you can try decreasing the length of the stitches. Longer stitches are more vulnerable to pulling out compared to the shorter stitch. Aim for 16 to 20 stitches per inch and decrease the length at the beginning and end of the seam.

Try Manual Stitching

Manual stitching is just giving a human touch to the stitch. When you finish the seam, leave the excess thread. Use the excess thread to make a loop and tie a knot. Now trim the excess thread to create an efficient finish.

How Do You Stop a Stitch from Unraveling?

End a Stitch on Sewing Machine

There are times when your stitches become visible and start getting out of shape. It is essential to secure such stitches with a backstitch or lock stitch. Backstitching is the ideal way to secure the stitch from breaking and hiding its seam. It is a simple backward and forward stitch done at the beginning and end of the seam.

How Important is Securing the Start and End of a Seam?

Starting and ending your stitching with one of these options is very important to keeping your seams strong. It is especially crucial for seams that receive a lot of wear and tension.
To understand the importance of backstitching, stitch two seams on some scrap fabric. Use one of the previously explained backstitching methods on one of the samples and sew the other without any backstitch. Now take the fabric and pull at the seam.

Notice, the seam without any securing stitch will start to come undone, while the other sample will hold strong. Adding a secure locking stitch really doesn’t add much extra time when it comes to sewing a seam, but it could save a lot of time that would need to be spent repairing an unraveling seam.

What is Locking Stitch on a Sewing Machine?

Locking stitch is yet another popular type of stitch done on a sewing machine. It makes single stitches at the beginning and end of the fabric, to keep the stitch secure. It is merely a straight stitch that you do on the sewing machine.

Why Do You Need to Secure the End of the Seam?

End a Stitch on Sewing Machine

When you sew a fabric, there is a start and end to the seam. It is essential to ensure that these points are not unraveling and stretching out in different shapes. You need to provide a neat finish to your stitching. The starting and ending point a seam can be secured with the help of a backstitch and lock stitch.

Backstitching is simply backward and forward stitching done at the beginning and end of the seam to make the stitch stay strong. Lock stitching, on the other hand, is a built-in stitch feature in a majority of sewing machines; it makes a single stitch on the fabric both forward and backward without repeating it.

Can a Zigzag Stitch Be Used As A Back Stitch?

Zigzag stretch is making a continuous row of letter “W” on the fabric. There are different types of zigzag stitches according to its stretch. The zigzag is commonly used for enclosing raw edges. So, in some cases, you can use a zigzag stitch as a backstitch to keep the seam from unraveling and proving a firm hold to the stitch. But, in most cases, a zigzag stitch also needs a backstitch for better hold.

Do You Backstitch A Stay Stitch?

Stay stitch is a regular stitch that you do on any fabric. It is done within the seam allowance so that it is not revealed on the fabric. You can backstitch your stay stitch if you need it. But, in most cases, the stitch line will be caught up in the seam. So, you don’t necessarily have to do a backstitch.

Do All Stitches Need Backstitched?

Any seam that is meant to be permanent will need to be secured with a backstitch. Stitches that typically do not need to be secured include stay stitching and basting as these steps are typically followed up by sewing a normal stitch that would include a backstitch. Additionally, you will never want to secure a stitch that is being used to create gathers. For gathering the thread needs to be allowed to slide through the fabric, locking your stitches with backstitching would prevent that ability. If you are following directions from a sewing pattern, backstitching will be assumed with any seam sewn and they will typically state only if you do not need to backstitch.


Hello, I am Jessica Flores, and you are welcome to my website. I am a professional fashion designer and a seamstress. I always carried a passion for craftwork. My love for craft grew along with time. I have spent years researching and practicing in this field to gather colossal experience.

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