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How to do a Pickstitch

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In sewing circles, the proper name for this stitch has been hotly contested, but I prefer “pickstitch” to “prickstitch.”

The pickstitch is a strong, decorative stitch used for topstitching and installing zippers in difficult fabrics such as velvet. It is also a good way to understitch seam allowances on facings when machine stitching isn’t possible.

When I sew pickstitches as a decorative detail, I use buttonhole twist in a single or double strand, depending on how visible I want the stitches. For understitching facings, I use Mettler silk-finish, cotton, single thread. For hand-picked zippers, a doubled buttonhole twist is the proper strength.

Make the stitches 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 inch apart, depending on how far away from the edge you are sewing. The pickstitch is a backstitch but a very tiny one. The direction of travel is right to left. Begin by bringing the needle up through the fabric.

1. Insert the…

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  1. User avater
    Mike32 | | #1

    Thanks for the clear instructions, close up on how to achieve this professional detail. However, to qualify that the stitches go from right to left--that is if you are a right handed sewer. We lefties will go from left to right!

    Alma Lou

  2. User avater
    LinenKids | | #2

    Thanks, it was useful!

  3. louann2 | | #3

    As another lefty, I am glad to see mike32 's post! Really like the precision of the article, and have used this site often while constructing my daughter's wedding dress.

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