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This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: erynn
Date: 04-01-2004, 08:08 PM (1 of 11)
Hi :) I have a question... I'm in the process of making a dress (I just picked out the fabric), but the fabric is somewhat stretchy. I do not own a sewing machine and therefore am making it by hand. However, I have never used a stretch stitch before and cannot find any information on how to use one. Typically, I use a plain straight stitch that sort of loops to prevent bunching. Also, I'm a reasonably good sewer (I've been sewing since I was old enough to hold a needle to make barbie clothes and am now 20).

In short:
How do you use a stretch stitch by hand assuming it is possible? Is a stretch stitch really required?

This dress is for a semi-formal occassion so I'd rather not mess it up too much. *grins* And frankly $10.29 for the fabric is much cheaper than buying a dress LOL
User: erynn
Member since: 04-01-2004
Total posts: 1
From: MaryW
Date: 04-02-2004, 09:06 AM (2 of 11)
I have said it before and I will say it again. I can't imagine making a dress by hand. Congratulations, I think your idea is just great.

Oh yes, welcome to Sew Whats New.

I don't know quite how I would stitch by hand but why not do some experimenting with stretchy fabrics. Sew a few seams with different stitches and see if any of them work for you.

How stretchy is your fabric? Can you stretch 4" to 8"?

Maybe a zig zag by hand works as well as a machine zig zag. :bluesmile
owner/editor of Sew Whats New
User: MaryW
Member since: 06-23-2005
Total posts: 2542
From: LeapFrog Libby
Date: 04-02-2004, 06:52 PM (3 of 11)
Don't laugh at me, but here is your answer.. (I am a person who has asked 'why' all my life, and I always have to know how it works)
A sewing machine stretch stitch is always pictured as a triple stitch. The reason is it stitches 2 stitches forward , then 1 stitch back, then 2 forward and 1 back... Thats all there is to it.. Yes, I slowed my machine down to see what it did... Both my old Kenmore and my current machine (Janome) work the same way..This keeps the thread from breaking when stress is put on the seams....:cool:
Sew With Love
User: LeapFrog Libby
Member since: 05-01-2002
Total posts: 2022
From: Aimee S
Date: 04-02-2004, 11:08 PM (4 of 11)
I would sew with a regular stitch and use the wooly Nylon because the thread stretches.
The more you disaprove, the more fun I am having!
User: Aimee S
Member since: 02-23-2003
Total posts: 488
From: DorothyL
Date: 04-03-2004, 08:46 AM (5 of 11)
I'm with Libby, I think. I thought a backstitch which is forward and then back again. I'd practice doing it without pulling the stitches too tight.
User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
From: MartySews
Date: 04-03-2004, 10:18 AM (6 of 11)
Did a google search for hand stitches in garment sewing and was amazed at the different websites that popped up. One website was http// in which there was an entire instruction course on hand stitched garments. Because I was not familiar with the website, I consulted my Tailoring, Tailoring, Tailoring by Allyne Bane's book. On page 282, she gives directions for the "catch stitch" with a diagram. It is used for a more attractive and elastic stitch. I would use that or a blind stitch for your stretchy fabric. The book probably can be found in your local library. It was my college textbook back in 1976 when I studied tailoring. Happy Stitching!
It takes one moment to change a life.
User: MartySews
Member since: 02-23-2003
Total posts: 504
From: sewserious
Date: 04-04-2004, 07:34 AM (7 of 11)
The above link doesn't work, I get an error; page not found. Can you direct us to the right page. Sounds like something I might be interested in.
User: sewserious
Member since: 08-24-2003
Total posts: 112
From: MartySews
Date: 04-04-2004, 10:40 AM (8 of 11)
I was trying to remember the entire link but evidently my brain went on hold. I just did a search for "hand stitches for garment sewing" and several links showed up. It was the first one. However, another link that I think is much better is:
It has 3 pages of different handstitches with diagrams for the correct stitch formation. Hope this helps. Happy Stitching!
Marty :cool:
It takes one moment to change a life.
User: MartySews
Member since: 02-23-2003
Total posts: 504
From: carolvanee
Date: 04-05-2004, 07:32 PM (9 of 11)
Hi There

I have found that if I use the good old fashion back stitch full or half it works real well with stretch. If you have never done this stitch you just take a normal hand stitch then bring the needle back to where you started and put it through again, this is for the full back stitch and to do the half one just bring it back half way, put the needle in and bring it out a stitch length passed the begining. When I'am holding the fabric and sewing it I stretch it a bit at the same time. I'am not sure if this is clear. But there is a picture of the stitch in most sewing books. " The Singer basic sewing book " and " the Readers Digest Sewing Book"

Carol in Calgary:Canada:
Smile it looks good on you Carol V
User: carolvanee
Member since: 10-15-2003
Total posts: 3
From: MartySews
Date: 04-06-2004, 09:18 AM (10 of 11)
Most couture sewing is done almost exclusively by hand so I wouldn't worry about that. Just practice a bit if you haven't done this very much before. Happy Stitching!
It takes one moment to change a life.
User: MartySews
Member since: 02-23-2003
Total posts: 504
From: sumaspikey
Date: 01-07-2005, 10:55 AM (11 of 11)
Hello everybody!

I was also pondering this conundrum when I stumbled upon your wonderful website. Going to make myself some fluffy boot covers, (coz shops charge far too much for them!) and was wondering how to sew the elastic band into the top. I like Aimee S's idea of just using stretchy thread, but if this doesn't work, the website Martysews suggested is brilliant, loadsa tips on there. I also read somewhere that it is best to stretch the elastic out as far as it can go and then sew it while stretched, but not sure how to do this?! Wondered if you could help?

Many thanks
User: sumaspikey
Member since: 01-07-2005
Total posts: 1
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