A Complete Course in Dressmaking/Lesson 1/Hand sewing


Do you vary the stitches you use in hand sewing? One kind of a stitch wont serve for all purposes you know. Suit the stitches to the kind of work that you are doing. Here are the stitches you will need to use the most. Practice making them until you are adept with your needle.

Running Stitch.—The simplest of all hand stitches is running stitch shown in Fig. 40. Making this stitch is merely a matter of running the needle in and out of the goods at regular intervals. It is the kind of a stitch that is used for handrun seams and gathering.

Fig (40) Running stitch which is used for bastings, handrun seams, etc.

Once you have inserted the needle in the goods do not remove it until the needle has all the material on it that it will hold.

Running stitches for ordinary purposes are made usually about one-eighth of an inch long. However, an old rule which always holds true is "The finer the material, the shorter the stitch."

Keep in mind two things in practicing to make running stitches. Make them as evenly as possible and keep them in a straight line. A crooked seam is an acknowledgment of the lack of practice.

It is a good idea for the beginner to mark the exact stitching line with a tracing wheel run along the edge of a ruler.

Back Stitch.—One might almost call this a stay stitch for that is its purpose. If you want hand sewing that is firm use back stitches. See Fig. 41.

Fig. (41) Back stitches hold the goods firmly.

They are formed by inserting the needle as for a running stitch, bringing it out on the right side of the goods and inserting it a second time at the point where it was first inserted. This time bring it out beyond the first stitch.

Sometimes, in a handrun seam, every fourth or fifth stitch is made a back stitch to strengthen the stitching. There are places where a seam finished in this way is to be preferred to a machine stitched seam. For instance, the daintiest and most expensive lingerie in the shops is made entirely by hand. A neatly run French seam, in a sheer camisole or chemise adds as much as the trimming. Babies’ clothes too seem to call for a hand finish and certainly hand work adds to the little girl’s sheer batiste or lawn frock.

Basting.—The basting stitch you use depends on what you are sewing. Seams are usually basted with a long and short running stitch. In this case, the long stitches are about one inch long and the short stitches measure about one-half inch.

In basting a seam, place the basting beyond the seam allowance. When you stitch, run the stitching just inside the basting. This makes it possible to remove the basting threads easily. However, if the stitching is directly on top of the basting, it is almost impossible to pull them out.

There is a cotton which comes especially for basting. It is easily broken. Ask for basting cotton.

Always use a cotton that contrasts to the material. A matching cotton is difficult to see and pick out.

If you use sewing silk to baste silk material, the stitches will not be so apt to leave a mark.
Fig. (42) Diagonal bastings are used to hold linings in place.

In basting one piece of material to another as a lining to a coat, use diagonal, basting as shown in Fig. 42. Diagonal stitches hold more firmly than running stitches. In diagonal basting, the cross stitches are about one-half inch wide and the diagonal stitches are about one inch long.

Overcasting.—Where you want to finish the raw edges of a seam, whip them with over and over stitches. See Fig. 43. It will prevent them from ravelling. If the stitches are placed about one-quarter of an inch apart the overcasting can be done rapidly.

Fig. (43) Seams that are overcast will not ravel.

It is a help to thumb tack the material to the sewing table, overcast for a ways, then thumb tack again further on.

Just overcasting makes a pretty trimming, too, for a child’s dress. Sometime, try overcasting the collar and cuffs of a yellow chambray with black mercerized embroidery cotton.

Felling.—Hems, folds and lining are felled in place. This means taking stitches in the hem and outside material which will hardly show.

Insert the needle first in the hem, the fold or the lining and then in the outside garment as shown in Fig. 44. Take up only a thread or two of the outside goods as the
Fig. (44) The correct position of the needle in felling a hem
stitches ought not to show on the right side of the goods.

In turning a hem, you will find it a great help to press it before attempting to fell it in place. Folds ought to be thoroughly pressed before they are sewn to the garment.

Blind Stitching.—It is possible to blind stitch more quickly than to fell by hand because in blind stitching the stitches are placed further apart.

Blind stitching is used to tack trimming in place. For instance, the girdle that looks loose and careless yet ought to be firm. Just a blind stitch here and there will hold it. Fig. 45 shows the position of the needle. The stitches may be placed from one-half inch to five inches apart, as the case requires.

Fig (45). An enlarged view of the so-called blind stich.