Guide to Basic Sewing Stitches
Sewing is the thread that holds the fashion industry together – quite literally! Every manufactured garment is a product of its fabric and the stitches, threads, and finishes that hold it together. Anyone involved in this process should know the difference between the many types of stitches used in the industry today.
A Guide to Basic Sewing Stitches
This brief introductory guide to basic sewing stitches will introduce and explain the most common machine and hand stitches used.
Before sewing machines became everyday commodities in the home and factory, garments were made solely by hand. This included every step of the sewing process (hemming an edge, joining two separate pieces of cloth, finishing a seam, etc.). Many garments today are still sewn by hand utilizing the following basic stitches.
The running stitch is the most basic and commonly used, in which the needle and thread simply pass over and under two pieces of fabric. It’s the same as a basting stitch, except it is sewn more tightly to create a secure and permanent bind. The technique can be identified by the spaces left between each stitch on both sides of the fabric, creating a dashed thread line.
A basting stitch is one of the simplest stitches in sewing, used to temporarily hold together two pieces of fabric. Think of it as a “rough draft” later replaced by a more secure and permanent stitch. Sometimes also called a tack stitch, it is done quickly with a simple over/under motion, resulting in a long, loose stitch easily removed.
The back stitch is a variation of the running stitch, but with each needle pass, the needle and thread doubles back on itself. This eliminates the visible spacing – the dashed effect – seen in the running stitch and instead creates a more polished straight line of thread on the fabric’s surface.
A catch stitch, or cross-stitch, is a standard sewing technique for hemming. The use of this stitch creates a zig-zag series of X’s on the underside of a piece of fabric. Strong and flexible, these stitches are barely visible on the outside of a garment and offer a clean finish for raw edges.
The slip stitch is a strong, sturdy, and permanent way to finish a garment. This is another great stitch for securing hemlines. However, unlike the catch stitch, using a slip stitch results in a nearly invisible bond on both sides of the fabric.
The advent of the sewing machine in the early 18th century completely revolutionized the apparel industry, streamlining production. It changed how the traditional clothing manufacturing process. Today, machines construct most apparel. These machines often possess a wide range of capabilities. Almost every machine contains the ability to perform these three basic stitches.
The straight stitch is a series of straight stitches equidistant from one another, all in uniform length and spacing. It is the most common stitch that serves as the backbone for nearly all sewing machine varieties.
The backward stitch is merely the machine’s ability to carry out the straight stitch in verse. This capability helps secure the beginning and end of any other stitch. Additionally, this keeps the thread from unraveling or losing its shape.
The zigzag stitch is a sewing technique where the needle and thread move back and forth at alternating angles. It is the second most common stitch after the running stitch and is present in nearly all sewing machines today. Additionally, its strength is often used to finish seams and raw edges, reinforce buttonholes, and in stretchable fabrics.
Most sewing machines, both industrial and home models, possess the ability to make buttonholes and create a variety of hemming and decorative stitches. It all depends on the specific machine, with each brand and model offering its unique assortment.
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