Name this sewing stitch?
December 23, 2018 12:47 AM   Subscribe

Howdy MeFites! I’m hoping our resident sewing experts can help me with the name of a basic sewing stitch my mother taught me when I was young. I’d like to research it further online (to determine whether I’m doing it right and when it’s appropriate to use). But to do so, I need to know what it’s called. The closest I have gotten to is a lock stitch but the videos of lock stitching on YouTube do not show this exact method. Description of the stitch is inside.

So, the stitch I am using may be incorrectly remembered from how my mom taught me. But here’s what I do:

1. From the back (wrong) side, insert the needle through the cloth to the front side. Move a few millimeters over and re-insert the needle through the cloth toward the back. Pull the thread taut, so there is a short stitch of thread now flush on the front of the cloth and the needle is to the back.

2. On the back, move a few millimeters over and re-insert the needle through the cloth toward the front. Pull the thread taut, so there is now a stitch of thread on the back side and the needle is to the front. So far, this is a basic running stitch (as I understand it).

3. Now, as if we were going to continue the running stitch, we move over a few millimeters to where we would re-insert the thread toward the back. But before we insert the needle, we pass it under the first stitch thread. Then we pass the needle through the cloth to the back and pull the thread taut.

4. We continue this procedure, basically a running stitch, but passing the needle beneath the previous stitch on that side of the cloth before re-insertion.

Is this an actual stitch and, if so, what is it called? Also, does the loop actually “lock” anything or is it just for looks (as it does keep the stitch from looking intermittent)? Many thanks for your advice!
posted by darkstar to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could you give a picture?
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 1:02 AM on December 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

It kind of sounds like a chain stitch made backwards, like here. Does that look more or less right?
posted by MadamM at 1:24 AM on December 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Not easily, I’m afraid. I’m avoiding setting up accounts with the various social media sharing sites like YouTube or Instagram.

How about this...imagine you are looking at the front of the cloth. There are three points, 1,2, 3 and 4, separated by a few millimeters:

1. Needle appears at this point as it is being pushed through.

2. Needle re-inserted at this point, as it is pushed through to the back. (Note that there is a line of thread showing between points 1 and 2.)

3. Needle re-appears here as it is being pushed through. There is currently no line of thread showing between points 2 and 3. So far, it is a basic running stitch.

4. We are about to re-insert the needle again at this point. However, before we do so, we pass the needle back under the line of thread at point 2 first. Then we insert the needle at point 4.

Does that help?
posted by darkstar at 1:35 AM on December 23, 2018

MadamM, that chain stitch is really, really close. Whereas I’m advancing the needle to reinsert at point 4, they are re-inserting back at point 3.

I’m guessing that the stitch I learned is a variation of a chain stitch, then. It’s always served me well. But quite honestly, I think I prefer the look of the one you linked to. I can do some more googling into variations of chain stitches, now that I know that’s the general category.

Many thanks! :)
posted by darkstar at 1:52 AM on December 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

darkstar - just in case you need it in the future, you can upload images and share the urls at imgur without having to set up an account.
posted by humph at 2:21 AM on December 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

Possibly a stem stitch?

On preview - probably not.
posted by bunderful at 6:10 AM on December 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think you are describing a backstitch. This article explains it creates a more elastic seam on areas that need ease.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 9:36 AM on December 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is it the "catch stitch (second example)?" My Mom just called it a hem stitch.
posted by irisclara at 8:46 PM on December 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I’m seconding backstitch. It’s a super sturdy hand stitch.
posted by vividvoltage at 10:16 AM on December 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh my gosh, y’all! Thanks to your feedback, which I’ve been ruminating over the past few days, I finally realized it’s an adaptation of a blanket/overlock stitch!

I vividly remember she used it in the regular way along the edge of a hem and on the edge of a patch, as shown in the link. Those articles of clothing are, sadly, no longer available to examine. But she used a variation of it in one notable case of sewing up a tear in my old stuffed dog, which I’ve examined, and it is the stitch I’ve been using for 30 years. In this variation, all of the stitches form a straight line, but they are still basically blanket stitches.

However, I’ve been misremembering/misconducting the stitch sequence. Typically, a blanket stitch does not have to “go back” and pass the needle under the previous stitch to lock it in (as I have been doing). Instead, as the needle passes through the fabric, it passes on the front side of the working thread, so that it has already “picked up” that stitch before coming around again for reinsertion. Much more efficient!

So I was basically doing my linear blanket stitches backward! No wonder I couldn’t find the stitch! :P

Well, now it’s sorted, at last! Many thanks to all of you who suggested possibilities. I’ve just learned three cool new stitches: the backstitch, the stem stitch, the catch stitch, and the chain stitch! Hooray, and Happy New Year!
posted by darkstar at 10:13 AM on December 27, 2018

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