Which Basting Tape Do I Use for My Project?
Basting tape is one of the most helpful sewing notions you can have on hand during a project. In fact, you'll notice that we use basting tape in almost all of our free how-to videos. It's one of our favorite notions and we always keep several rolls stocked in our sewing studio. We sell multiple varieties and widths of basting tape here at Sailrite®, and knowing which type to use for the material or fabric you're working with can be a little tricky. In this blog, we're going to discuss the types of basting tapes we sell and how to know which one to use for your sewing project. We'll also address concerns about washing fabric with basting tape in the seams, how to choose the right basting tape width, fabric yellowing and more.
Types of Basting Tape
At Sailrite, we offer four types of basting tape that work with almost any sewing project you're planning.
Seamstick Basting Tape for Canvas: This is by far our most popular type of basting tape and the one we use most often during project videos. This tape adheres canvas fabrics like Sunbrella® Marine Grade, Top Notch® and Top Gun® and cotton duck fabric very well. In addition to marine canvas projects, this tape can also be used on woven fabrics for indoor and outdoor upholstery projects, cushions, pillows, window treatments and more. This tape is available in widths of 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch and 1/2 inch. The 1/4-inch width is recommended for upholstery work and adhering zippers to fabric assemblies prior to sewing.
Seamstick Basting Tape for Sailmaking & Vinyl: This basting tape works on smooth Dacron® sailcloth, nylon and for adding vinyl window material to sails. Woven fabrics with a vinyl coating, such as Stamoid™ Top and Light, should also use this basting tape. Though this is the least sticky of our four types of basting tape, it is designed to stick well to the materials it's intended for. You should not use Sailmaking & Vinyl basting tape on canvas fabrics as it will not hold well. This tape is available in widths of 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch and 1/2 inch.
3M™ Super Seamstick Basting Tape: Super Seamstick is incredibly sticky and is most often used to baste radial seams on coated ripstop or coated polyester spinnaker fabrics. The adhesive is so aggressive that it can actually be used in place of sewing. If you do choose to sew through the basting tape, you will need to change your needle frequently to avoid skipped stitches. Super Seamstick won't stick to silicone coated materials. This tape is available in widths of 1/2 inch and 1 inch.
Seamstick Mylar/Kevlar Basting Tape for Laminate Sailcloth: As the name implies, this tape was made specifically for Mylar or Kevlar laminate sailcloth to reinforce the seams prior to sewing. The adhesive tape has a cloth matrix that strengthens the seams and allows the stitches to hold better. This tape is only offered in a 1/2-inch width.
Use this chart to help you pair your fabric or material with our recommended basting tape. Here's an important tip: If basting together two materials that have different basting tape recommendations, always use the more aggressive basting tape for the best hold.
Now that you're well informed on the types of basting tape we offer, read our companion blog "Sewing Tips: How to Use Basting Tape" (#300076XHT) to learn how to apply basting tape, its benefits, and why we recommend it so highly in sewing projects.
Basting Tape: Frequently Asked Questions
We get a lot of calls and emails from customers asking all sorts of questions about basting tape. Do I sew over it? Will it damage my needle? Does it show through fabric? And so many more. Here's a list of common questions and our answers so you have all the information you need to know about basting tape.
Can I wash my project with basting tape in it?
Usually, fabric applications with basting tape can be washed. However, we recommend that you air dry your project.
How do I choose the right width of basting tape?
We recommend using a basting tape with a width that is just slightly narrower than your hem or seam. You don't want the tape to be exposed after seaming or it can attract dirt and look unprofessional. For example, if sewing 1/2-inch seams you should use the 3/8-inch basting tape. The 1/4-inch width tape is perfect for installing zippers and attaching a cushion's boxing to the plate and piping in upholstery work.
Are there any chemical reactions when using basting tape on certain materials?
Inexpensive rubber-based basting tapes, which Sailrite does not sell, can have bad chemical reactions to certain materials, particularly vinyls. The result is that the adhesive tape may bleed or become gummy. When a vinyl fabric is layered with a woven fabric, these cheap tapes can even bleed through the woven material side and appear brownish in color. However, when you follow our recommendations on basting tape types and which fabrics to use them with, you will have no adverse chemical reactions whatsoever.
Does basting tape yellow or make my fabric discolor?
Yellowing of basting tape can occur if you use a poor quality basting tape. This is generally more obvious when used with translucent or lighter colored fabrics where the yellowed tape can show through easily. It is the sun exposure that “yellows” the basting tape.
Sailrite basting tapes are acrylic based and/or acrylic blended and are non-yellowing.
Am I supposed to sew through the basting tape?
It depends on the type of project you are sewing. If you are sewing pillows or cushions (applications where you turn the project right side out after seaming) you do not want to sew into the basting tape or it will be exposed on the right side. That's why we recommend 1/4-inch-wide tape for these projects. When sewing seams that are not going to be flipped right side out, like on canvas projects, sewing through the seams can be beneficial. Sewing through the tape will help to keep water from wicking through needle holes and make seams more water resistant.
What if my fabric isn't sticking to the basting tape?
Some fabrics with a coating on them don't stick as well as other fabrics. Use a hard object such as a ruler or the handle of fabric shears to apply pressure to your basted hem or seam. We like to run the metal edge of the Sailrite® Canvas Patterning Ruler over the basted hem, pressing firmly.
Does basting tape damage my sewing needle?
When you sew through basting tape, it might make your needle sticky or gum up. This is not a serious issue and it's easy to remedy. Simply clean off your needle with rubbing alcohol or adhesive remover. Proactively, you can also stick your needle through a bar of Ivory® soap before installing it in your machine. The soap residue will help keep the tape from sticking to your needle.
Can I use basting tape with very thin fabrics or white fabrics?
When it comes to white and lightweight fabric, use your discretion. If you're concerned that the tape might add weight to the lightweight fabrics and might show through the thin material, you can use sewing pins or Wonder Clips instead of basting tape. For white fabric, it depends on how thick the fabric is. We have used basting tape in some white drapery lining fabrics with excellent results. Again, use your best judgment.
When should I not use basting tape?
You don't want to use basting tape on open mesh fabrics where the tape will show through the mesh and attract dirt. If your mesh fabric's holes are small enough that the tape doesn't show, you can use basting tape. For example, we recommend using Seamstick Basting Tape for Canvas with Phifertex® Plus and Textilene® but not Phifertex® Standard, which has a more open mesh weave. You can determine a mesh fabric's openness factor by checking the shade factor percentage on the product page. The higher the shade factor, the more tightly woven the fabric is.
Watch our quick video for more about basting tape.