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Soft Goods Patches and Top stitching on flightsuits and other soft parts

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Patches and Top Stitching on Flightsuits and other Soft Parts
Lead Author: Falke
Edited by: MMCC Education Team

What all Mandalorians we see in "The Mandalorian" have in common are their detailed Soft parts. Whether you look at The Armorer, Din Djarin or Bo Katan, they all have patches and top stitching on their flightsuits, vest and most of their other soft parts. All those details create an unique look and add another layer to the costume. No matter if you are trying to build one of the Canon Characters or just want to add some flavor to your custom mandalorian, top stitching and patches can move your build to the next level and with a few tricks, doing them can be very easy.

Tools needed
  • Sewing machine
  • Fixing pins
  • Tailor's chalk (optional)
  • Sewing needle
  • Scissors

  • Fabric (you can either use the same fabric for the patches and the base or you can get creative with different kinds of fabric
  • Thread (e.g. 100 wt)
  • Top stitching thread (e.g. 40 wt)

For the tutorial I used a differnt coloured fabric for the patch and threads in different colours to make it easier to understand. I've created a simplified version of the Bo Katan flightsuit arm to show the different techniques.

Part 1: Patches

I highly recommend attaching the patches at the very beginning of your sewing project. It is easier to attach them when you can still lay your fabric flat on the floor, (before you close the arms or legs). When cutting out the fabric of the patch, I recommend removing some of the fabric in the seam allowance at the corners, which will lead to sharper corners during the hemming.

If you are not very experienced with sewing, it can help to hem the patch separately, before sewing it onto the base fabric.

Now you can sew the patch onto the base fabric. If you hem the patch separately you will end up with two seams at the borders of the patch. The pink one (which hems the patch) and the red one (which attaches the patch to the base fabric). For those two seams, you should use a thread that matches the colour of your patch as closely as possible. If you add a top stitch on top of those seams, they will be barely noticeable afterward if your thread is color matched.

Part 2: Top Stitching

For the Top Stitching you need to use two different threads, the thicker top stitching thread (e.g. 40 wt) and a normal thread (e.g. 100 wt). The top stitching thread will be the upper thread and the normal thread the lower thread. The colour of the normal thread should match the colour of the fabric as close as possible.

Before you start sewing you should double check the settings of your sewing machine and adjust them if necessary. With the change of the thread thickness an adjustment of the thread tensions is usually necessary. With my sewing machine I need to increase the tension, but I would recommend trying to sew on a sample fabric with different tension until you are happy with your result. If the tension is too low, you will find loops on the backside of the fabric, if it is to high there is a danger of damaging the thread. I also recommend using a wider stitch length for your top stitching to match the screen references.

Even if the thread tension is adjusted correctly there is still a danger of a loop on the backside with the first stitch. Therefore I recommend securing the top stitching thread with your fingers for the first few stitches.

As the top stitching will later be easily seen it is important to not make any mistakes while sewing them. Take your time, sew slowly and really concentrate on sewing straight lines. I also recommend to have some orientation you can follow while sewing those seams. You can either use the edge of a patch or another seam as guidance. But if you are not sewing parallel to a edge or seam I would recommend drawing your pattern on the fabric with some tailor's chalk to ensure that you are sewing the top stitching correctly.

The most important part of doing top stitching is how to affix the thread. Usually, you will sew back and forth at the beginning and end of each seam. But, even if you manage to sew back perfectly on your original stitching, it will not look good. So will need to affix each thread by hand on the backside to get a clean topstitching.

For this you will need to leave some excess thread at the beginning and end of each seam.

Now you can take a needle to pull the excess of the top stitching thread to the backside of the fabric.

On the backsite a knot between the top stitching thread and the under thread will secure the seam. The excess thread that is left after the knot can be cut off.

With these tricks, you are ready to start sewing some basic topstitching. For some patterns, a top stitching line must end at a very specific point (for example if it meets another line).
In such a case you need to be careful not to sew over the stopping point. You need to stop at the last stitch before the stopping point; even if this leaves a gap between the end of the stitch and the planned stopping point.

You will then sew the last stitch by hand, which enables you to end exactly at the point where you want to end. When looking at the final product it is hardly noticable if a few stitches are a bit shorter than the rest, but it will be very much noticable if you sew over another line.

I hope that tutorial helps you with decorating your own soft parts to achieve this neat look we have seen in "The Mandalorian".

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