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How to Sew a Catchstitch

This stitch keeps layers of fabric flat against one another, such as a hem or seam allowances. Use it on lined garments because the lining covers and protects the surface threads, which tend to catch on things. You can vary the stitch length according to taste. For the catchstitch, I recommend making stitches 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch apart.

Classic version: In the classic version, the direction of travel is left to right, but the needle points to the left. As you can see in the photos, it is a back-and-forth stitch; you first catch the surface layer and then the hem allowance layer and repeat.

My version: This version uses less thread and is faster to sew than the classic catchstitch. I like to interline garments (see “You Say Underlining, I Say Interlining,” Threads #135, p. 40). Catchstitches allow me to tack seam allowances to the interlining without the stitches showing from the right side. To stitch my version, take two “bites” on each stitch—one on the seam or hem allowance and one on the surface fabric or interlining.

The needle travels at 45 degrees to the seam, as shown.

Excerpted from “Master Class: Master the Hand Stitch,” Threads #135, Feb./March 2008, p. 63.

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  1. Sally65 | | #1

    I have done the catch stitch to. It will give good results.
    Like the pictures. Give us more tips

  2. gramazin | | #2

    I love these handy "suggestions"!!! Sewing is such fun!!!!
    I love the Threads magazine and all of the helpful information!!!!

  3. bcaprichos | | #3

    How funny! I grew up doing the catch stitch because it is the only way that I saw my mom and grandmother (awesome seamstresses- Granny introduced me to Vogue and WWD when I was 12) hemming skirts and dresses. Everything else looks half-done to me...;-D
    Great tipz!

  4. jckirner | | #4

    I like your version! Looks both speedy and thrifty. When I
    saw the picture of the classic version I instantly thought "herringbone stitch" from hand embroidery.

  5. quilterbyheart | | #5

    My late motherinlaw used this stitch (classic version) on quilts instead of running stitch/ quilting stitch

  6. Katielynne | | #6

    Mr King, Thank you for posting this technique. So clear and well narrated, your "lessons" are always welcome and much appreciated. You're a real confidence booster.

  7. User avater
    MaddyGranma | | #7

    I never knew that there was an option to the catch stitch, but I can see its usefulness; a lot less thread in half the time!

  8. Redbaroness | | #8

    Your tutorial is so well written, it got me to thinking.
    I think I see an advantage to the Classic Catch Stitch. If the stitch catches then the loop of the crossing threads would tighten and limit the length of the pulled thread. It would still need to be repaired but the damage would be mitigated. So if you must have an exposed catch-stitch the Classic may be a better option.

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