Back to Basics: Hand-Stitched Garments
Hand stitching. Argh! Many garment makers will do anything to avoid the dreaded “H-word.” Stitching by hand, for some of us, is reserved for reluctantly basting something together or sewing on buttons. So the idea of making hand-stitched garments may have only been a passing thought.
Hand sewing alternative
Our beloved machines give us myriad options to create garments without ever picking up a needle and thread. We can thank Elias Howe for helping us avoid hand stitching since 1846. Mr. Howe is credited with receiving the first U.S. patent for a sewing machine in 1846. Although there were other similar inventions before that, notably Thomas Saint in 1790, Howe’s “lockstitch” version is the Grandma of what we use today.
It is difficult to imagine a time when all clothing was made by hand. Today, we rarely encounter entirely hand-stitched garments. Now, there is a mystique around any hand-stitched couture dress or hand-tailored jacket. The special care, attention, and time it takes to make such masterpieces is awe-inspiring to those of us tethered to our sewing machines and sergers. It is a scary proposition to make a garment entirely by hand, with a just a needle and thread in your hand.
Hand stitching isn’t just for quilters
Hand stitching is still a thing, though. Many avid quilters see it as a right of passage to hand-quilt a bedspread. Natalie “Alabama” Chanin has inspired us with her slow-sewn jersey creations. Kantha cloth, boro, sashiko, embroidery, smocking, and beading can be seen everywhere from boho market stalls to high-end fashion runways. While we might admire these lovely creations, we shy away from projects that would seem to require a longer commitment than a lot of marriages. But fear not. If you are ready, take a deep breath and let’s consider some projects…