What is Triple Stitch?

Vicki asked “What is a Triple Stitch” so I thought I’d show you guys, rather than try and explain it!

Your sewing machine may or may not have this stitch option. It’s Option #2 on my machine out of its seventy-five settings, which makes me think it’s fairly common on newer machines. It’s also known as a stretch stitch, or triple stretch stitch.

Here’s what the button looks like – second from the left, number 2:

Basically, the sewing machine sews the first stitch, then it sews over that same stitch twice more before moving on to the second stitch. On the second stitch, it sews three times, then moves on to the third stitch.

What this does is triples up the thickness of each stitch. So instead of one line of thread, you’ll have three lines of thread stitched in the same place. I like using this stitch for topstitching because it doesn’t require you to buy special thread. Using the same spool of thread ensures your topstitching matches the rest of the stitching perfectly.

Here’s how it looks on fabric – you can see the difference between regular topstitching (on the right) and triple-stitch topstitching (on the left):

The triple-stitch will make your thread colour look more intense, as the thread is tripled up rather than sewn in a single line. So if your thread isn’t a perfect match, a regular topstitch will look more subtle.

Warning: this stitch uses up a ton of thread! Plus, if you veer off-course, it’s very tedious to unpick three times the amount of stitching, and it’s more likely to leave holes or marks on your fabric if you remove it. So if you’re going to triple-stitch, proceed with caution!

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18 Responses to What is Triple Stitch?

  1. PepperReed January 17, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    Does this stitch really stretch (I’ve always heard it as stretch stitch)? It seems as though it’d be too dense for that.

    • Tasia January 17, 2012 at 11:21 am #

      It does seem to be more resistant to breakage than a single row of stitching – what I thought when I first started using this stitch is that if one stitch breaks, the two underneath it will be there to keep the seam intact. It is a pretty dense stitch though, you’re right!

  2. Laurie January 17, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    I’ve always used this stitch in the crotch for extra reinforcement. It’s a great powerhouse stitch.
    Laurie

  3. Alicia January 17, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    Another tip I’ve seen is to thread the machine with two strands of top thread. It still pops, but it’s not as hard to pick out. I used it on a jacket this fall and it worked well.(I just threaded an extra bobbin, stuck it on my machine’s second spindle, and gathered the two threads together to thread the machine. Easy-peasy.)

  4. Seraphinalina January 17, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    I’ve used that stitch on a couple of projects where I expected the seam to be abused. I think the bag I made for our sleeping bags because I figured it would be tossed around, overfilled, etc. It wouldn’t have crossed my mind for topstitching, thanks for the tip.

  5. Sophia January 17, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    Oh neat. I’ve only ever used this stitch when sewing knits. It’s good to find another use for it. Thanks!

    And my 1972 (ish) machine has this stitch, so it’s probably pretty standard.

  6. Sassy T January 17, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    I have this stitch. Not used it. I believe it’s main purpose is for stress areas. Ideal for backpacks for example. I will use for top stitching one day thanks for the tip.

  7. Amy January 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    Oh, Tasia, Thank you for this post! I have always wondered what that stitch was for. . . it’s also the second stitch on my machine. It makes TOTAL sense now that you’ve shown me! Might be useful for topstitching on diapers.

  8. Mary January 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    this is a great stitch for knits. Nice and strong and stretchy. When I learned to sew on knits this was one of the options to use before home sergers. In quilting you can use this stitch with some adaptations to the tensions to make a stitch that looks like hand quilting. And of course top stitching. A really great utility stitch.

  9. Fabiana January 18, 2012 at 1:09 am #

    I also have a Pfaff (45 stitches), but couldn’t find it yesterday night. I guess I was sleepy. I think I will look at the manual when I get home.

    I already started my topstitching my Minoru though (with a regular straight stitch), and it looks great!

  10. Ida January 18, 2012 at 1:29 am #

    I use topstiching a lot, often in a contrasting colour and a bit “longer” than the stitch-automatic-programming. To me that mostly looks better than those short “ballpoint” triple-stitches.

  11. Nethwen January 18, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    My Kenmore, made before 1980, has this stitch. I though it was called a stretch stitch, too. The manual says to use it for knits, but I never found it good for that. I haven’t tried it, but topstitching sounds like a better use for this stitch.

  12. Tasia January 18, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    Very cool to hear all of the ways you guys use this stitch! I’m also glad to hear it’s on many sewing machines. Mine has so many functions (although I don’t use all of them) that I forget which ones are standard and which ones are specialized.

  13. Amanda January 18, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    I don’t know if my old Singer has that stitch (probably not LOL) but I’m definitely going to go look as soon as I get home! That sure would come in handy :)

  14. misty April 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    Hi Tasia, I have no sewing experience at all. I’ve tried the Triple Stretch Stitch setting on my new Brother CS6000i, but, the stitches turned out to be so tight. How can I loosen up the stitches? Thanks for your blog!

  15. Dov November 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    I use this kind of stitch, actually a triple zig-zag stitch, when sewing webbing and cordura. It is excellent for climbing harnesses, tie-downs, and other hard-use items.

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