Author Topic: ABC des Schneiderhandwerk - The Stitches - translated  (Read 508 times)


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ABC des Schneiderhandwerk - The Stitches - translated
« on: October 07, 2019, 05:06:01 PM »
Here are the pages on the Stitches, from the recently posted:

Many thanks to peterle, for his prompt and invaluable help in editing my translation.

As usual, only for Private Study

from page 25

The Various Stitches

Every garment, of any kind, is held together by seams.  The simple seams are, for the large part, perhaps even universally, sewn by machine.

Before the invention of the machine, all seams had to be sewn by hand.  This was a tedious chore and you can admire such completely hand worked garments in Museums.

But before the apprentice can learn to sew on the sewing machine, they must familiarise themselves with


The correct grip and entry are crucial.  When sewing seams the sewing needle should be gripped with thumb and forefinger, never in the middle.  It is of the utmost importance that the apprentice follows the instructions of the Master exactly.  He must be careful, have all his thoughts on the work, so as to concentrate on the work.  This facilitates the educational activity of the teachers, tailors or journeyman teachers and strengthens mutual trust.

First, something about the posture while sewing.

How should the tailor sit while sewing?  In general “Turkish Style” i.e. cross legged, is customary in tailoring.  In very many workshops however, sitting on a chair or a stool, has been introduced in recent years.  The apprentice will have to use a footstool, so that the workpiece and the left hand hold firm on the knee.  This is also important so you will not become “Air Tailors”.  Your teacher will explain this term.

When threading the needle one holds the needle in the right hand and passes the moistened tip of the thread through the eye of the needle. You can also set the eye of the needle to the thread and draw the thread through.  In either case you only need to turn the needle over and not pass it from left hand to right.


Another way is to hold the needle in the left hand and the thread in the right.  Also with this method, one can either push the thread through the needle or set the needle over the thread.  These are only trivialities, but the entire activity rests upon the summation of many small details and these should be carried out as expediently and efficiently as possible.  This also includes the correct threading and as one learns, one can repeat later.  In any case, don’t forget to make a knot at the end.

Now to the.



There are four types of stitches and seams:

I. Main Seams
II. Auxiliary Seams,
III. Decorative Seams,
IV. False Seams,

They consist of a variety of stitches.

A good tailor or seamstress must be able to carry out all these different seams and stitches by hand.  Then it is also possible to do the sewing with the machine, possibly with additional apparatus or by means of specialist machines.  It is best to practice on a dark piece of cloth, not too strongly woven, folded double, without pronounced patterning.  The stitches themselves done with white top stitching thread No. 40.

Straight or Running Stitch, Abbildung 69.

It is used for basting or pleating. [Reihen = Heften] It is used to hold together two layers of stuff, stuff and lining, outer stuff and inlay, or two pieces of lining.  The length of the stitching varies and depends on the type of use.

Abb. 69. The Straight Stitch.

Whether basting is carried out while sitting (where the work is lying on the knee), or standing at the work table (where the work piece is lying on the table or the ironing pad), depends on the type of seam and whether one of the pieces is to be eased in or stretched.

When basting a sleeve, for example, the wider piece has to be laid over the shorter piece and laid over the index finger of the left hand, so that the width can be distributed well and properly.

These stitches must not be drawn too tight, on the other hand, they must hold the pieces together well, so that they don´t shift, e.g. when machine sewing.  As with all things, experience is everything.  This also applies to the length of the stitches.  The apprentice must baste well and cleanly, the experienced technician will often sew a seam “freehand”, that is, without first basting the seam.  In this case, “Practice makes the Master”.

The Back Stitch, Abbildung 70.

Also known as ‘Machine Stitch’, this is the True stitch for sewing seams and it runs in the same direction as the cut edge of the Stuff.  With strong cloth the seam lies about 5 mm from the edge, with moderately fraying cloths about 7 mm and with very fraying or loosely woven cloth the seam is kept at 1 cm.  (The width of the inlay is different).

Abb. 70. The Back Stitch.

For the back stitch the needle inserts a whole stitch-length behind the thread that has been passed through and the needle is brought out a further stitch-length in front of the thread.  The stitches underneath are twice as long as the ones on top.  The most important thing is to take care that the stitch-length is even.  They must look like machine sewn stitches.  Each stitch must be drawn tight, so that after pressing the seam, no “little teeth” appear.  On the other hand, the fabric may not be gathered together.  Look closely at the pictures and follow them.  Most importantly, work with confidence and soon, you will be able to do such a clean seam.  It is used in the seat seam and the upper part of the crotch seam, in the shoulder seam and sleeve insertion etc. when these seams should be carried out by hand.

This stitch is also used, sometimes, to attach the lining to the front edges.  Then it looks as if the lining has been sewn by machine.

The Tacking Stitch, Abbildung 71.

The first step in any garment work-in-progress is to mark out with marking stitches.  This is understood to mean the marking of the seam edges, pleats, centre front etc.  On the doubled over cloth the straight stitches and back stitches are applied alternately directly onto the chalk line.  In doing this, however, the back stitches are not drawn tight, but kept so loose that they form eyelets or loops.

Abb. 71. The Tacking Stitch.

Then the upper layer of cloth is lifted a bit (so as to draw the upper loops tight), and the thread between the two layers is cut through.  This marks the width of the inlays or hems, the exact position of the folds etc.  One can also do this work with loosely drawn straight stitches.

The Slip Stitch, (also called fell stitch - Hosteck) Abbildung 72.

Slip stitching, by which is meant the clean attachment of the folded edge of the lining, is a great job for the apprentice.  Enter and exit the needle into the cloth just above the folded edge of the lining and when exiting; catch the lining by taking up just the fibre at the very edge.

The Slip Stitch, Abbildung 72.

It is recommended that this work be done on dark cloth, with a white top stitch yarn, No. 60, or with white machine silk.  Well executed blind stitch should be nearly invisible.

The Hem Stitch, Abbildung 73

As the name suggests, this stitch is used to secure hems, for example a trouser hem.

For a Hem Stitch, first catch the hem from underneath with the needle, then push the needle into the outer cloth, but only so that the outer stuff is only struck half-way through.  The needle should never be passed the whole way through, because under no circumstances may the thread be seen from the outside.  It may also only be drawn loosely. 

Abb. 73. The Hem Stitch.

Then the outer stuff and the hem are joined and the next stitch starts directly above the exit of the first stitch. Thus, while the needle enters at an angle, the stitches come to lie vertically.  With friable/ loose cloth, it is recommended to apply a thread of buttonhole silk in such a way that it comes to lie directly in front of the edge of the hem.  So that the bulky fibres of the cloth are held in and one obtains a clean and pleasing hem.

When sewing to the neck hole, the needle is introduced from the top to bottom.  With highly fraying cloth

The Herringbone Stitch (Hostek - Cross Stitch), Abbildung 74,

is used.  In this way unravelling of the cloth fibres is avoided especially with cloths that cannot be folded under.  In ladies tailoring it is also used as a decorative stitch.  Unlike other kinds of stitches, this stitch is performed from left to right, i.e. from front to back.

Abb. 74. The Herringbone Stitch.

The needle pierces about 5mm from the edge of the hem, see arrow, then guided horizontally forward (or one can also simply prick the needle from bottom to top).  Now, just above the hem edge, the needle is inserted some millimetres behind the first stitch (but one must not pass completely through the fabric), and again guided forward and so on.  It is thus inserted alternately top and bottom.  The illustration shows exactly how the needle is used.

The Overcast Stitch, Abbildung 75,

is used to prevent unravelling the edge of the cloth.  The needle enters from below and one always begins at the top of the edge so as not to go “against the grain”.  The Master will be happy to explain what that means.  This kind of stitch is also referred to as “Stitching over the edge” or as the “Over-edge stitch”.

Abb. 75 The Overcast Stitch.
The Buttonhole Stitch, Abbildung 76.

Although all seams and so forth can be sewn on the machine, the production of buttonholes for Bespoke Tailoring is exclusively done by hand.  (There are machines that can make buttonholes that look deceptively similar to hand worked buttonholes.)

There are three kinds of buttonholes:

Knotted (pulled up) buttonholes, gimp buttonholes, piped buttonholes.

Here we will discuss the first mentioned kind, since the knotted buttonhole is the most common.  First of all, the position of the buttonhole is precisely marked out in chalk, and the position and size are checked.  In men’s single breasted garments the buttonhole is always on the left, with women’s garments, always on the right front.

Abb. 76.  The Buttonhole Stitch.

You must always pay attention, because once the buttonholes are cut, it is too late.

After the buttonhole (with corresponding eye) is cut in (Uniforms are mostly done with buttonholes that do not have an eye), it´s edges are neatly overcast. 


The cloth is barely caught, so that the stitches are not visible in the finished buttonhole.  The canvas is pushed back a bit.  Under no circumstances may the light coloured canvas be visible after overcasting.  Then the gimp - [„Vorpaß“], which is a doubled, waxed heavy twine - [Quispel] is laid down first and the buttonhole is sewn with closely laid together, tightly drawn, loop stitches.  One uses buttonhole silk, and depending on the type of cloth, whether tight or loose, the stitches reach closer or further into the fabric.  The insertion of the needle and the formation of the loops (when pulling the thread tight, little nodes, characteristic of a buttonhole, form), depends upon a careful eye and safe hands.  Whether, in producing such a loop, one pulls the loop small first, then draws the silk thread through the loop, or inserts the needle and then lies the thread in front of the needle, it doesn’t matter.  In every case the thread must be drawn upwards (not sideways) and tight.  Since the buttonhole silk is slightly roughened with the sewing, it is advisable to wax it slightly.

The insertion of the needle and the forming of the loops is a job that must be done very conscientiously.  There are tailors and lady tailors who can produce a good piece but fail with buttonhole sewing, on the other hand there are also great experts.  Therefore, pay close attention to the hand movements that your teacher shows, and diligently practice buttonhole sewing.  The end of the buttonhole is sewn firmly together, less often it is bar-tacked.  You must follow the Master’s judgement.  When fastening the closure, the silk thread is passed a few millimetres on either side of the buttonhole opening, with the stitches lying over one another.  These are bridged over by a single stich laid directly in the middle.  If a bar tack is required, the stitches lying over one another are wound around closely with buttonhole silk.  The finished buttonhole is stitched up with doubled basting yarn.  One starts at the eye, placing two stitches on top of each other.  Then stitch the buttonhole together with four or five stitches.  The buttonhole edges must lie exactly against one another. 

Then the buttonhole is “Bitten”.  This is a curious job, but it is necessary if value is placed on a clean buttonhole.  One lays the edge, in the region of the buttonhole “Right side to right side”, so that the buttonhole lies exactly in the middle, and bites firmly on it.  As a result, the tightly drawn up loops end up looking like closely lined up little pearls.

Finally, an awl is used to round out the eye.  The awl is rotated back and forth between thumb and forefinger.  The basting threads are only removed after pressing.

The Pad Stitch, Abbildung 77,

serves to connect outer stuff to canvas or canvas to chest piece, which is a reinforcing piece of inlay.  The arrangement of the stitches forms an interrupted zig zag line and when doing this kind of stitching make sure that the top of the inlay is sewn with ease.  A good, pad stitched lapel must be elastic and “Roll” into it shape by itself.  That is the purpose of the pad stitch.

Abb. 77.  The Pad Stitch.

The position of the stitches is variable.  We will come back to this in detail in a subsequent volume with the processing of the jacket lapel. 

Pick Stitch, Abbildung 78.

It is also known as „Durchnähstich".  This kind of stitch can only be described, since the stitches are hidden.

Pick stitching is the sophisticated form of edge stitching. With both kinds, one will give a firmness to the entire edge to “Großstücken” – large pieces and waistcoats (“Großstücken” are jackets, coats and all over-garments, “Kleinstücke” are trousers and waistcoats).

With the Pick stitch, the needle must be reinserted close to the exit, so that it only forms a dimple. But the stitch may not be directly visible on the underside. 

Abb. 78. Pick Stitch.

Thus, one may not pierce through.  The stitch may only be slightly indicated on the underside.  The closer one places the stitches, the better the result.  The Pick Stitch shows as a line running parallel along the edge, when the work is carried out completely cleanly.

The Feather Stitch, Abbildung 79.

One stitches alternately diagonally from right above to left below, then diagonally from left above to right below, always leave the thread in front of the needle and pull it downwards, not upwards.

Abb. 79. The Feather Stitch

The Blanket Stitch, Abbildung 80.

This stitch is performed similarly to the Overcast Stitch, but one leaves the thread in front of the needle so that it cannot lie around the edge of the cloth.  Thus, it forms a sling.  The thread position is rectangular.  One takes care that the thread is not drawn too tight.

Abb. 80.  The Blanket Stitch.

The Chain Stitch, Abbildung 81.

It is an outstanding ornamental stitch, appropriate for the most colourful silk thread.  Chain Stitch and the following decorative stitches described below are used exclusively in the department of ladies tailoring.  The individual stitches are created by looping.  To begin, one stitches first from the back to the front.  Guide the thread down and hold it firm with the thumb of the left hand.  Then insert the needle vertically, from behind, through the cloth into the first hole, and exit at the desired length of the stitch.  The thread is pulled only moderately tight and downwards.  For each “Chain Link” only one vertical incision of the needle is needed. 

Abb. 81.  The Chain Stitch.

The Open Chain Stitch, Abbildung 82.

It is worked like the Chain Stitch, by forming loops.  One begins as with the chain stitch, and lays down a loop.  Then one inserts a few millimetres to the right of the first insertion in a diagonal direction forward through the cloth and also for the required length of the stitch.

Abb. 82.  The Open Chain Stitch.

The thread is left loose, so that it can form the lower border of the next stitch.  It is wider than the chain stitch.  The diagonal stitch develops a lattice shape.

Gathering Stitch, Abbildung 83. 

It is used for gathering and for sewing little folds.

Gathering stitch, Abbildung 83.

It is performed with a long thin sewing needle. 

The cloth is held firmly in the left hand, while a number of close running stitches are picked up with the needle in the right hand.  Thus, the needle is not pulled out of the cloth at each stitch.  The stitches must be carried out very evenly. [This stitch is called, in German, Gabelstich or Fork Stitch, because the movement; when picking up the fabric; resembles using a fork.]

« Last Edit: October 12, 2019, 12:12:02 AM by Schneiderfrei »