What is Bartacking?

Carrie Grosvenor

Bartacking is a type of reinforcement stitching used by the fabric and textile industries to fortify stress points in clothing, sporting equipment, uniforms, and a host of other products. The bar tack stitch is a tight zigzag pattern repeated perpendicularly over itself several times to make sewn products stronger, and resistant to tears or rips in the seams. Commercially, either a special bartacking machine or an industrial sewing machine with a bar tack attachment can be used for this purpose.

Bartacking on jeans is used to reinforce pockets, zippers, button holes, and belt loops.
Bartacking on jeans is used to reinforce pockets, zippers, button holes, and belt loops.

Stress points that require bartacking are the areas of a garment where normal wear will cause strain on the seams or fasteners. On a pair of jeans, for example, bartacking is used to reinforce pockets, zippers, crotch seams, button holes, and belt loops. All of these points are prone to added stress while being worn. Equipment such as slings and harnesses for rock climbing need to be safe and strong, and bartacking ensures that the seams will not fray or split while the equipment is in use. Government, military, and emergency service uniforms are heavily bar tacked, as are pieces of protective equipment like industrial aprons.

Safety harnesses are often heavily bartacked, because they must be strong and durable to prevent injury.
Safety harnesses are often heavily bartacked, because they must be strong and durable to prevent injury.

Most consumer garments that are commercially manufactured feature three rows of bartacking at each stress point. Safety equipment and sporting gear use at least five rows, and sometimes even more. Commercial descriptions of sporting equipment, for example, will include bartacking as a safety measure included in the design of the item.

Bartacking can also be used by the home sewer or hobbyist. Items like quilts, which are made up of many different sections of fabric, benefit from bartacking to ensure durability. Replacing zippers on pants or jackets requires a bar tack stitch at the point where the replacement zipper is trimmed to fit the garment. While some home sewing machines are fitted with a bar tack attachment, this type of bartacking can be done by hand with a simple zigzag stitch repeated often and at an angle to ensure strength.

If you want to see bartacking in action, take a look at the buttonhole on your pants. Not only is the entire hole stitched to deter fraying, but each end of the hole is also stitched several times over to ensure a strong hold without tearing. Any item with straps, such as backpacks and purses, also feature visible bartacking where the strap meets the main fabric.

Bartacking has become standard for any item that is sewn together. These additional stitches create durable and safe garments and gear that can withstand use and wear, giving additional value and peace of mind to consumers.

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Discussion Comments


@LoriCharlie - I never realized how many different uses there are for bartacking either. However, I'm glad I found this out. I've been looking into buying a sewing machine, and I'm definitely going to get one with a bar tack attachment now.

I've actually seen a few sewing machine models advertised with bar tack attachments, and they weren't much more expensive than other sewing machines. I think I would probably use a bar tack attachment more than enough to make up for any extra cost.


I've heard of bartacking before, but only in the context of jeans. I had no idea how many other items feature bartacking! I suppose I shouldn't be surprised though. Bartacking is very strong, and there are a lot of sewn items that are meant to withstand rough handling and hold a lot of weight.


@Monika - I don't blame her! I find hand sewing to be pretty tedious anyway, and that's just a normal stitch. I can't imagine doing bartacking by hand on all the different parts of a pair of jeans that need it. When everything is said and done, it would probably be more cost effective (when you take your time into consideration) to just buy a pair of jeans!

I suppose you could make yourself a pair of jeans and omit the bartacking, but I'm pretty partial to the way the stitching looks on bartack jeans.


My mom likes to sew, and a few years ago, she attempted to make herself a pair of jeans. She doesn't have a bartack machine, and her sewing machine doesn't do a bartack stitch. So she did all the bartacking by hand!

She said it was so tedious, she may never make another pair of jeans again!

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