The Unique Meaning Of 'Stitch Incoming' On TikTok

TikTok is home to upcycling tips and craft videos, but the "stitch incoming" trend has less to do with sewing seams and more to do with spilling tea. The short-form video platform introduced the "stitch" feature in September 2020 as a new way for users to engage with others' content (via TikTok). Previously, creators had only been able to "duet" the videos of others — that is, appear in a side-by-side split screen while offering commentary or dancing along to a popular song.

With stitching, creators can pull a clip of another video to the beginning of their own, before jumping in with their own input. As Business Insider notes, this makes the feature perfect for commentary, reaction-based, and clap-back content. Viral TikTok sensation Drew Afualo made a name for herself by stitching the misogynistic takes of male creators, pairing them with her own iconic roasts. As she told Huffpost, "I just make fun of terrible dudes on the internet ..."

Clearly, the stitch feature can bring laughs and wake-up calls, but lately, it's also come with a warning. Here's what to expect when you see a video marked with "stitch incoming."

It lets viewers know to wait for your thoughts

While stitching is a useful tool for commentary creators, it can also bring unexpected content into their followers' feeds. Take our earlier mention of Drew Afualo, for example. People who follow her for her takes on women's empowerment may be surprised to see a video that starts off with the rantings of a misogynistic man. Some even might hurriedly swipe away.

By overlapping the original clip with the words "stitch incoming," TikTok creators can let their fans know that they aren't promoting the content and have something to say about it. This eases the fear that followers may have about "ending up on the wrong side of TikTok" — a phrase used to describe when the algorithm guesses wrong about your personal values and preferred content.

A perfect example of using "stitch incoming" to divert a conversation or insert your own viewpoint is Drake Pooley. In a TikTok video that received over 750,000 likes, Pooley interrupted a car chat from another creator to talk about the casualness with which we use suicidal language — sparking a new and essential conversation. Other TikTok users, including @lanalovessushi, have employed "stitch incoming" over their own content, letting followers know they're about to provide an update on a previous story.

Other warning signs of stitched content

You don't have to rely on a creator adding "stitch incoming" to know that you're watching collaborative content. When a user stitches a video, TikTok automatically adds #stitch in the caption, making sure to tag and link the original content as well. If an odd hot take pops up on your feed, checking for TikTok's disclosure of a stitch is a good habit to get into before swiping away.

Other creators opt to include trigger warnings alongside or instead of a "stitch incoming" notice. As you might expect, videos that prompt stitching and commentary are often highly controversial. A creator may add tags warning of sexism, homophobia, or racism on top of a stitched video. This clues their followers into the fact that commentary is coming, while also warning them and giving them the option to swipe out of the content altogether.

With this new culture and viral trend on TikTok of commentary and clap-backs, some may wish to opt out of the conversation altogether. TikTok notes that video creators can toggle off the stitch feature for their posts, preventing others from incorporating their content into new pieces.