Auxiliary Reference Information | Sewing | Different Stitch Types

During the course of working through the modules and when creating your garments you will need to become familiar with stitch names and understand how you can best use them and have practiced stitching them.

These stitches are not only useful for making garment but they are also useful to help you alter garments and for mending, the sort of things that should be taught in schools!

Now this list is not exhaustive but I have added some of the main stitches and will add more at a later Date!

So if you are not familiar, grab a coffee and a pet to watch you some scrap fabric, a needle and thread and scissors and work through these stitches and have a go, practice makes perfect!

Back Stitch

Info and Application - The Back Stitch is the very strongest stitch that you can do by hand as you are almost doubling stitching the fabric as you move backwards to move forwards. Usually used to secure fabric, you would use this stitch to join fabric pieces together.

Stitch Size – Usually Medium to Small.

Direction of Sewing – Right to Left.

Single/Double – A doubled thread helps when working with thicker layers like gathers or lace overlays or heavy skirts.

Decorative – Not really used for decoration.

Blanket or Button Hole Stitch

Info and Application – This stitch is usually used for decorative purposes to either cover an edging such as a Button Hole or to use on metal hardware to disguise it such as hooks and eyes or to cover a French Tack to use as a closure with a button or hook.

Stitch Size – Usually Small.

Direction of Sewing – Left to Right.

Single/Double – Either, double will give a quicker coverage, but a single thicker thread gives a nice decorative edging.

Decorative – Yes.

Flat Fell Stitch

Info and Application – This is a very useful stitch which is very strong and secure and quick to sew. It holds a layer in place on top of another layer. It is used mainly to secure linings at seams or bindings or facings.

It gives lots of control over the position of fabric such as being able to sew a lining just shy of an edge so really useful for securing lining to a zip, it gives a neat finish with no snagging.

It can be used to secure a lining into the Waist of a bodice to hide everything inside.

It can also be used to sew on Applique or Patch Pockets.

Here is the back view.

Stitch Size – Usually a medium sized stitch.

Direction of Sewing – Left to Right.

Single/Double – Usually Single.

Decorative – In that it is mostly hidden so gives a clean finish.

French Tack

Info and Application – This stitch creates a chain of stitches a little like a crochet chain and created with the fingers. It is useful to use as a loop for a small button to join a fastening at the back of a neck or to join lining in a skirt to the fashion fabric, or to create mini straps across a Shoulder Seam in a bodice to hold bra straps in place, or to create belt loops for decorative belts on lighter fabrics.

The thread is secured either with a knot or with the thread wrapped around the need to create a knot, and a couple of stitches secures the end (see Knots below).

Place the needle back into the fabric through the same stitch and pull out but hold the loop back.

Then it’s basically finger crochet. You grab through the loop and pull the thread through as if it is another loop, as you hold onto this loop the previous loop will slide down until it is in place at the bottom.

Keep repeating this looping and sliding until a line of knots are made that are the length of chain that you require.

Then the needle goes through the loop and is pulled though to close the last loop.

When the chain is long enough attach the other end in position, for example attach to a lining or further along or for whatever application you are using it for. The other end is secured down with a couple of stitches

In this case a bar has been formed that could be used to secure a button or a hook for example.

Stitch Size – Very Small.

Direction of Sewing – Up.

Single/Double – Usually Double.

Decorative – Decorative and Functional.

Gathered Stitching

Info and Application – Lines of thread are stitched with parallel to each other. Up to three lines can be stitched and, three lines produces the best gathering result. The first line of sewing is sewn onto the stitching line and the second and third are sewn in the Seam Allowance.

The thread on the wrong side of the fabric are the ones usually pulled and each line of threads are pulled up by the same amount to create tiny pleats that are in line with each other over the three lines of stitching. Once lined up the fabric is pressed at the Seam Allowance to help the gathers stay in position while they are stitched to an adjoining seam, usually by tacking first.

Here 2 lines of stitching were used to and the back threads pulled to create a gather.

Here they are pressed to help hold them in shape prior to stitching.

Here 3 rows of stitching are used which creates a better structure for the gathers.

Here the gathers have been pulled up very tight and the columns of fabric are very pronounced.

Here the gathers are loosened off but you can still see how they create columns of fabric through the three lines of stitching.

Stitch Size – A smaller stitch will give the best result and keep the gather in place better, although the stitch requires pulling to create the gathered effect so if the stitch is too small the thread will snap so a test is a good idea to see what will work with the fabric to give the desired result.

Direction of Sewing – Up.

Single/Double – Usually Double.

Decorative – Decorative and Functional.

Herringbone or Catch Stitch

Info and Application – This is a very useful stitch used to secure Hems and Interlinings or Seam Allowances in place or any fabric that lays flat on another layer. The stitch is secure but flexible and allows a little movement, but the strength not to create any distortions.

The stitching creates a cross by pinching a little of one side then pinching a little of the other side (the amount pinched and sewn depends on the application, usually any stitch that would show on the outside is the smallest stitch to help hide it).

Its not easy to see in this picture but there is a fold across the fabric just like you would have with a hem. Although the stitching moves from Left to Right along the garment the needle and the actual stitch goes from right to left. You tak a very small bite each time alternating between taking a few strands of thread from the top and very slightly going through to the outside of the garment and then back down to secure the hem just below the fold.

Here is the back view, obviously you would usually stitch in a similar colour thread to the fabric and the little stitches would then blend in and be hardly visible.

Stitch Size – From the smallest stitch to the largest stitch depending on application.

Direction of Sewing – Left to Right.

Single/Double – Usually Single.

Decorative – Not usually, this stitching is usually hidden inside or covered by lining.

Invisible Hem Stitch or Blind Stitch

Info and Application – Gives a discrete finish to a hem. Although a little trickier to sew as you will need to fold down the top edge of a hem and sew between the hem and the Fashion fabric. The two sides are joined with a row of stitches that zig zag from one side to the other pinching a little out of one side then the other. It is a looser stitch to sew. This stitch can be used or a catch stitch variation that gives a slightly stronger result but would only be used on the hem side otherwise the stitch would show through to the front.

A hem is folded in the usual way, folded up then folded again and placed along the fabric ready to sew. However for an Invisible Hem Stitch the main fabric is folded back down to give access to the back of the hem so that the stitches can be made between the hem and the main fabric. The thread is secured in this case coming out of the hem at just over 2/8” below the top edge.

The stitch is made by taking a small bite from the main fabric then crossing back over to take a small bit out of the hem and going back and forth in a zig zag motion as the stitches travel to the left.

Here is the back view which looks very similar to the Herringbone Stitch however the advantage here is that the stitch can not be seen on the inside of the garment on the hem.

Stitch Size – Medium with a small pinched stitch on the outside of the garment.

Direction of Sewing – Right to Left.

Single/Double – Usually Single.

Decorative – In that it is mostly hidden so gives a clean finish.

Knot or Alternative to a Knot

Info and Application – A Knot secures the thread at the beginning but can also be done at the end of a line of sewing.

On a finer thread or when using a tacking threadI find an easy way to create a knot is to wrap the end of the thread around my finger leaving a small end of around ½”.

I then squeeze my thumb onto my finger at the point where the thread crosses then push my thumb up my finger to roll the thread together.

After rolling pinch the knot down with my nail while at the same time pulling on the long thread to tighten the knot.

It is easy to do but harder to explain I think, so if you are stuck just tie an overhand knot then do another on top then snip any excess thread off, always leave 1/2" of thread if you can to secure the knot even further the knot can usually be hidden from view perhaps inside a Seam Allowance.

You can create a knot by wrapping a thread under the needle in its final stitch and then pull the needle through to create the knot. This has the extra advantage of not having a little bulky knot to deal with especially if you have a sheer fabric. But this method is not as secure as knotting before you sew.

You can do this at the beginning of the sewing then secure it down by stitching two or three stitches to secure it before cutting off the end tail.