Bar-tacking is the name given to the process of reinforcing fabric with stitching. The stitches stabilise and strengthen areas which may be subject to additional stress and wear.


In a finished garment, problem areas which would be bar-tacked include pocket openings, button holes and collar corners.

The process involves sewing long, narrowly spaced stitches along the line of the bar that will be made, then sew short stitches perpendicular to the long stitches through the fabric and over the bar.

There are three ways to bar-tack:

  • Bar-tacking machine - These are frequently used for heavy duty fabrics such as denim. It will often be done in a contrasting colour to the denim.
  • Sewing machine - The machine should be set to a very small and tight zigzag stitch.
  • By hand using whip stitches.

All makeweights produced by James Heal are bar-tacked in the corners to increase durability and stability using a sewing machine.

When bar-tacking is performed in this way, it has a different appearance to those carried out on a bar-tacking machine as it is a different type of stitch. It offers the same increased stability and strength.

A PDF version of this FAQ is available for reference.