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How to Practice Hand Sewing Stitches


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#37 J. Maclochlainn

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 05:14 AM

Heeft u nog werk voor Paul Verschragen?
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#38 R.m.Bakker

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 06:31 AM

Helaas ben ik niet meer werkzaam bij Paul Verschragen. Was voor hem financieel niet haalbaar een leerling te hebben.

Ik heb wel nog regelmatig contact met hem; we organiseren 2-maandelijks een lezing over maatwerk/bespoke pakken en shirts in zijn winkel. De eerstvolgende is Donderdag 12 mei, je zou overigens van harte welkom zijn!

translation:

Unfortunately I am no longer working at Paul Verschragen. It was financially not possible for him to sustain an apprentice.

I still speak to him regularly. We organise a bi-monthly seminar about bespoke suits and shirts in his shop. The next one is Thursday the 12th of May, you'd be very welcome btw!


Oh and anyone else for that matter that happens to be in Voorburg (Holland) next thursday :)

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#39 MANSIE WAUCH

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 06:47 AM

Posted Image But seriously, someone gave me a special issue magazine published by the Threads magazine publishing company that had articles for beginners. It suggested holding the needle at the very end. What is that, sabotage?

I've encountered a fair amount of misinformation and hiding the ball in my sewing education. Just tell me in precise detail what I should do and I will attempt it. Don't tell me to "eyeball it" and that things will gradually improve. Posted Image Maybe some of these folks honestly didn't know that there were ways of communicating these tricks.Posted Image I'll have to give them the benefit of the doubt.


It's too bad I'll never be a sewing teacher. I know all the idiots' questions. If it can be sewn inside out or upside down or in some theretofore inconceivable way I will do it. Posted Image



Listen to Jason, he makes sense. My comment was intended as a joke. (I will have to stop my poor attempts at humour.)

#40 tailleuse

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 10:47 AM

I was taught to hand sew in the same manner. It is not because you need to "weaken" the muscle or whatever, it's purpose is merely to teach the apprentice to sew with his THIMBLE finger rather than use any other finger (which is tempting when you start out)

By securing the thimble you learn how to keep your hand in the proper position in order to hand sew correctly. After a while you can take it off since your muscles will have adapted to holding your hand in the proper way.

to the OP:

When I started out I got some scraps of cloth, first only learning to do the sewing motion. So just a small piece of thread a needle and your thimble and only the movement was important. After doing that for 3 full working days straight (I was not allowed to do anything else) I was told to start with the running stitch. practice practice practice; then on to the backstitch. Again, practice practice practice. then on to another stitch. It was all I was allowed to do for about a month 5 days a week.

Suggestions would be to use a rather thick cloth; fuse it perhaps because it simplifies working as all you will want to focus on now is getting the "muscle memory" to learn exactly how to FORM these stitches rather then apply them to different sitiations.

Also use dark cloths, and a rather thick, white thread; i even used basting thread for a while. This allows you to better SEE what you do and allows you to form the stitches in a better way since it is more apparent if you don't do it correctly.

How to go from there is again just practice practice practice. As sator said, it is imperative that you start applying the skill you just learnt into a real situation, ie put it into practice. It's like with school; you learn all these things and when you come out of school you still don't know sh*t because you haven't applied the knowledge in a real situation.

At some point perhaps you want to make an interlining for a suit; just go at it. Don't expect it to work out but it's good practice nonetheless. Since pad-stitching a cancas includes ALOT of hand sewing it is probably one of the best ways to go from there; it is the most continuous practice you can get with hand sewing and also allows you to develop a feel for how cloth and canvas react to your movement; you learn how to handle the cloth in different situations.

As the months(yes, months.) progress you will gain more confidence and more speed in hand-sewing. If something doesn't work on the machine (ie you cant figure out how to do it properly) hand sewing always works very well. When I started making shirts a lot of the seams (flat-felled seams) were very hard to do with the machine with the little experience I had. After failing miserably many times I finally tried to do it with the hand; not only did that work because my hand sewing skills became very good before I started making garments. Doing it by hand, it also helped me UNDERSTAND the seam, which is really important. Nowadays for customers I still prefer to do it by hand because in my opinion it just makes a much nicer garment both visually and technically, but that's another point entirely.

Also as other people have said this is not learnt in a weekend. or a month, or maybe even half a year. You will keep developing for a very, very long while. That however does NOT mean that you can't start applying the skill you already have.

Sewing by hand is like the foundation of a house. Miss one of the foundations and your house will collapse. It is the most important thing of all in tailoring. Even if you do not use any handwork in making your garments you should always know how to sew by hand because as I said, if something doesn't work out you can fall back on that hand-sewing skill. Then by doing the seam by hand you will start understanding the seam and when you return to do it by machine it will now work out. Also when starting with pattern matching, basting is like the be all and end all of the result. Fail to properly baste it and you will not line up the seams correctly to match the patterns.

So after the initial stage, just go at it. Try stuff. Use the forum as a guideline, try different things out and see where you end up. If you do not have a teacher to learn you the trade pretty much all you can do is try, try try and fail miserably each and every time. But failing will help you to get where you want to be; you fall and you stand up and after a while you won't fall anymore, or well you will fall but you won't fall as hard.

Also what I want to say is that you shouldn't take everything that's written very literally. A lot of the books, guides and whatever explain how you need to do something but in the end you always end up doing it in your own way. You need to grasp the essence of what needs to be done and then do it in the way you feel is best. Following the instruction word by word is good the first time but you will realise that sometimes it is not explained correctly or the description is incomplete.

A hand-stitch or well not really a hand-stitch but more a technique that one forgets alot in the beginning and which is very important going further into your tailoring journey is learning how to full in a larger piece of cloth onto a smaller piece of cloth. I wish I would've learnt that a little earlier but again by falling and standing up you learn.

So there is no pre-determined timeframe in which you will "learn" hand sewing. Just practice!

edit: some answers to your direct questions:


*What kind of thread? Cotton or silk? Should I use beeswax?

As I said try a basting thread or a rather thick thread in the beginning as you will see the stitches better. This will allow you to stop the "weaving" and inconstisency you are describing; the errors you make are more apparent.

*For needles, I assume milliners for basting stitches, betweens and sharps for permanent stitches?

betweens and sharps. As said by others by a pack and after a while you will learn what to use in what situation.

*Recommended brands? What is your preferred method for keeping track of the needles, especially if you have bought the kind that are wrapped in a couple of folds of paper?

Prym in Europe probably. Keeping track of the needles? something I still need to learn and gave up learning. I always lose needles and I just buy a new pack :frantics:

Do you throw out your needles after a certain number of hours of use? Does that emery strawberry on old-fashioned pin cushions work to sharpen needles?

I throw them out when they bend. And most of the times I lose them before they blunt! Posted Image

*How long should the ideal practice session last, and how frequently?

As said no pre-determined timeframe. Read my post :)

*How many kinds of stitches should I try to master? Any particular order?

All stitches, but "master" is the wrong word. You will want to UNDERSTAND first. Basting/Running stitch and the back stitch are probably the first two, then the felling and pad stitch.

After that no particular order. Wait a little bit with buttonholes especially in the beginning since it's a much more advanced type of stitch and you will struggle a lot in the beginning.

*I need to mark a stitching line with chalk; that's not negotiable. But would it be worth it in addition to mark quarter inches along the horizontal line so I can train my brain, eye, and hand better? I've tried using marked tapes, called "Tiger Tape" and tick tape, but they're distracting unless I'm stab stitching. I took a class in which we were shown how to make a sewing gauge out of cardboard that is slid along the fabric as one sews, but I never got the hang of it.

Preferrably use a striped cloth; it will help you when you start out. You will need to learn how to do it without though so don't rely on it too much otherwise your brain might get used to having a guideline and then you end up in a situation where you don't have that guideline... yeah. You know what I mean :) forget the sewing gauge btw.

edit 2:

Posted Image

this is what we mean by securing the thimble finger.


Thank you! Posted Image I went to Beckenstein yesterday and bought a nice piece of worsted pinstripe as Jason suggested. They have a minimum purchase requirement of a yard, so I bought a remnant of what was supposed to have been a pricey fabric. In any event, it feels wonderful. I can cut a couple of strips for practice, and in time, once I have a skirt block, I believe there will be enough left for a skirt, with careful planning.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#41 tailleuse

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 11:57 AM

The time it has taken you to write 12 posts you could have done some work, taken a picture and shown it to these guys. Best,



Ooooooooh, that was harsh. Posted Image I really don't think I deserved that. Posted ImagePosted ImageIf I didn't take what was said in this forum seriously, I wouldn't visit so often (in addition to chronic procrastination Posted Image* ). But opinions and advice do not always align, just like in the real world. One reason I pose questions is because the information I've received is often inconsistent, even contradictory. I know that answers differ based on the context and level of sewing (production, high-end RTW, couture, bespoke tailoring) and that each person has his or her own way of doing things. Which I respect. But as an advanced beginner, I'm just trying to pick my way through the confusion, developing a foundation. Once you know what you're doing and have strong points of reference it's easier to entertain very different approaches to garment construction.

Admittedly, I should spend more time sewing than reading about sewing on the Internet** and I intend to do that. As it happens, today, an experienced dressmaker helped me do a rub-off of a simple dress that I love and which I believe can be adapted to many different fabrics. Posted Image I've wanted to do this for a long time. In addition to using the experience to refresh my memory of techniques I've learned over the past couple of years I can use the clothes. Over time, I intend to develop other garments, including a tailored skirt and a vest. I hope to do a hand-tailored jacket, but if I dwell on that topic too long here in this apprentice's forum I will be vaporized. Posted Image [I don't really know what purpose this emoticon is supposed to serve.]

Before starting to copy the dress, I showed my visitor the skirts I did in Ladies Tailoring I at FIT, the lined jacket I did in Sewing II (we used fused wool, but still a complex project), the various wool hem finishes and the skirt back with the hand inserted zipper and hand sewn silk charmeuse Hong Kong finished seams I did in Haute Couture Sewing, and the half-lined trousers I did with hand overcast seam allowances and other hand work in Tailoring I.

Nice projects all, despite their flaws, which are painfully apparent to me, but I can't wear them because they don't fit. They're cut for industry mannequins.

I want to apply what I've learned to clothes I can wear, and keep working on fundamentals so I can get more out of the tailoring classes I take in the future. I also take pride in doing things well. I will never sew at the level and with the speed of an haute couture specialist or a bespoke tailor but I can certainly learn to make beautiful clothes for myself. Is that so wrong?

I mentioned to the dressmaker with whom I met today a discussion I read here about the greater attraction of an alterations business to some tailors because it paid better. She agreed; doing alterations is much more lucrative. But it was, she added, sometimes harder because one was working with someone else's design and conditions.

It was, she said, like doing a kitchen renovation.

I'd rather build the whole house.









*I think the "crazy" emoticon is my favorite.

**I am a fairly fast writer and typist. I would like to think that my posts and questions are occasionally of interest to people besides myself. I'm quite sure that there are many neophytes who haven't been properly instructed in the basic mechanics of sewing. It's also nice to encounter people in the needle trades who seem interesting and are willing to help passionate amateurs like myself.


Best,

Tailleuse


Edited by tailleuse, 13 May 2011 - 12:48 PM.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#42 tailleuse

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 12:14 PM

I might add that doing this simple rub-off was more complex than I ever would have imagined. It was a simple cotton A-line shift dress that I've had for years. It pulls on. The dressmaker showed me how this dress had my body's imprint on it because cotton is a living fabric. I knew that could happen with wool, but cotton? I apparently have somewhat prominent scapulae because she could see the places where the fabric had gently stretched to accommodate them.

It was kind of freaky. The realization that people who know sewing, fitting, and anatomy as do professional dressmakers and tailors can see things about me that would be invisible to myself and the casual viewer makes me uncomfortable. Posted Image So it's pretty unlikely that I'll post any photos in this forum. Not impossible, but not terribly likely.Posted Image

As for my hand stitching exercises, I think I'd be too intimidated. We'll see.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#43 tailleuse

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 12:54 PM

Listen to Jason, he makes sense. My comment was intended as a joke. (I will have to stop my poor attempts at humour.)



Oh, I knew you were just kidding.Posted Image

I've saved all the suggestions people have made to my "Sewing Techniques" notebook in Evernote. Good stuff.


Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#44 dunetraveller

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 06:29 PM

....opinions and advice do not always align, just like in the real world. One reason I pose questions is because the information I've received is often inconsistent, even contradictory. I know that answers differ based on the context and level of sewing (production, high-end RTW, couture, bespoke tailoring) and that each person has his or her own way of doing things. Which I respect. But as an advanced beginner, I'm just trying to pick my way through the confusion, developing a foundation. Once you know what you're doing and have strong points of reference it's easier to entertain very different approaches to garment construction.

Admittedly, I should spend more time sewing than reading about sewing on the Internet** and I intend to do that.


I have read through the entire post and 95% of what was asked and answered was something useful. :good: I kept thinking as I read 'That was something I was thinking of asking about' but was too afraid to ask for fear of being told I was wasting someone's valuable time since it was already in a thread somewhere. So I fret (kinda) :unsure: and read, and re-read so maybe the answers will creep into my noggin while I'm not thinking about it :Idea: and avoid asking a question.

Anyway, I wanted to thank you for being bold enough to ask, and many thanks to all the contributors who answered for your insight. I am a complete tyro, but I hope to learn much. Now I shall go practice. :Talking Ear Off:

John
"It is never too late to become what you might have been." - George Eliot (pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans 1819-1880)

#45 tailleuse

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Posted 29 May 2011 - 09:13 PM

...I wanted to thank you for being bold enough to ask, and many thanks to all the contributors who answered for your insight. I am a complete tyro, but I hope to learn much. Now I shall go practice. :Talking Ear Off:

John


Thanks, John. Posted Image I've learned that a lot of these skills, even the most fundamental are not intuitive, nor are they taught outside of a tailoring academy or a bespoke establishment. I've also come across contradictory advice. They are not taught at FIT -- some courses have had some hand sewing exercises, and/or involved considerable amounts of hand sewing, but there has never been time to go into it in this much detail. There are too many people. For a Fashion Design student (and I just take evening classes on and off, I'm not in a program), I actually do know a lot more than some people. I was in a crafts seminar recently learning a new technique and I recognized that a sample had catchstitching (cross stitching) and featherstitching; an FIT alumna asked me how I knew some things, I told her about some classes that may not have existed when she attended.

I, too, really appreciate the detailed answers that the more experienced forum members have provided. Frankly, I was expecting something on th general order of "Go practice." I didn't realize there was so much I didn't know.

Edited by tailleuse, 29 May 2011 - 09:14 PM.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#46 tailleuse

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Posted 29 May 2011 - 09:18 PM

I like your signature quote. Hope George is right.Posted Image

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#47 jeffrey2117

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 10:37 PM

Hello Tailleuse,

I agree that learning to stitch correctly is the foundation.

Learn to use a thimble correctly will greatly help you.

Practice the stitches correctly even if at slower pace.

If you work fast and stitches are not good, then it will be useless to you.

Be patient, speed will come with time and experience.

A few years ago, I used needles with gold-tipped eyes.

I found the threads moved smoothly through and I was able to speed up my stitching time.

As you know, in our work, time is money!

Regards,

Jeffrey2117
"An intelligent man knows he is ignorant, a ignorant man knows he is intelligent".

#48 tailleuse

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 12:17 PM

Hello Tailleuse,

I agree that learning to stitch correctly is the foundation.

Learn to use a thimble correctly will greatly help you.

Practice the stitches correctly even if at slower pace.

If you work fast and stitches are not good, then it will be useless to you.

Be patient, speed will come with time and experience.

A few years ago, I used needles with gold-tipped eyes.

I found the threads moved smoothly through and I was able to speed up my stitching time.

As you know, in our work, time is money!

Regards,

Jeffrey2117


Thank you. I think I know the brand of needles to which you refer. Posted Image

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#49 amateursarto

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 12:59 PM

I've been sewing determinedly with my thimble following Jason's instructions and after two days, I think my thimble finger is finally becoming accustomed to sewing this way. The thing that I still can't get is pickup of the needle with the thumb and index finger after pushing it through and then pivoting the needle back into position so as to sew the next stitch. Any suggestions or insights? Thanks...
AMATEURSARTO

#50 beaubrummel

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 02:40 AM

I like John James, but needle choices are subjective. I say find you quite a few different multi-sized betweens pack and try them out. As you sew you will notice the difference. There are some Japanese brands that I am dying to try that are supposedly strong, bend resistant and extremely sharp. I typically keep my needles in their envelopes until needed, pull out a few at a time thread them up for uninterrupted sewing.


I've been hearing a lot about japanese hand sewing needles as well. I'm going to pick some up this week. Any recommended brands? There's a place here in NYC where I can get Sashiko needles.

#51 tailleuse

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 04:56 AM

I've been hearing a lot about japanese hand sewing needles as well. I'm going to pick some up this week. Any recommended brands? There's a place here in NYC where I can get Sashiko needles.


Susan Khalje, a Couture Sewing teacher, recommends a particular brand. I've never taken a class with her, but I know people who have and liked her very much. I've never used the Japanese needles on her site, and they are pricey, but maybe they'd be worth checking out. Here's a link. The needles are towards the bottom of the page.



http://www.susankhalje.com/store.html


Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#52 jeffrey2117

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 12:07 AM

I've been sewing determinedly with my thimble following Jason's instructions and after two days, I think my thimble finger is finally becoming accustomed to sewing this way. The thing that I still can't get is pickup of the needle with the thumb and index finger after pushing it through and then pivoting the needle back into position so as to sew the next stitch. Any suggestions or insights? Thanks...



Hello Amateursarto,

I am not certain why you are having difficulty. I had to go sew some linings to see how my hands and fingers coordinated themselves when stitching.

When I was sewing in linings, sleeves, etc.., the needle falls into place naturally between my thumb and index finger.

Perhaps it is the type of stitch you were performing.

It took me longer than two days to perfect my stitches.

I would ask Jason, as his ability to describe how to help you with stitching is superior to mine.

Good Luck,

regards

Jeffrey2117
"An intelligent man knows he is ignorant, a ignorant man knows he is intelligent".

#53 tailleuse

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 02:58 AM



It took me longer than two days to perfect my stitches.




I've seen a couple discussions on the web involving the use of a piece of cloth tied around the hand and the thimble finger to train the finger to stay in the right position and I believe that alone took at least two weeks.

I'd like to try that, but I'd have to have someone watch me. Knowing me, I'd end up crippling myself.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#54 jeffrey2117

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 12:54 PM

I've seen a couple discussions on the web involving the use of a piece of cloth tied around the hand and the thimble finger to train the finger to stay in the right position and I believe that alone took at least two weeks.

I'd like to try that, but I'd have to have someone watch me. Knowing me, I'd end up crippling myself.



Hello Tailleuse,

I was told of this method when I first began training, but I have never seen this applied.

I thought I would be receiving first hand knowledge from the looks of my first sets of stitches while learning.

I would be interested to see how this would be done.

Kind regards

Jeffrey2117
"An intelligent man knows he is ignorant, a ignorant man knows he is intelligent".




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