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How to saddle stitch

CareEare | Posted in General Discussion on

I would like to have some guidance on the correct way to add saddle stitching around the lapels and outer edges of a suit jacket.  I am having a hard time finding good consice instructions!


  1. mem | | #1

    I cant help but would like to know if there is a way of doing it with monofilament in the bobbinto get that hand stitched saddle stitched look.I have heard that this is possible but I cant work it out . Any ideas??

    1. CareEare | | #4

      I have heard of this technique and it involves using the triple stitch stretch stitch and messing with the thread tension.  I can't give you more info than that. 

  2. fearyenot | | #2

    Hi CareEare:

    I have a little info from "The Vogue Sewing Book" for you.  'Use buttonhole twist, embroidery floss, or yarn-preferably in a contrasting color-and simply make continuous running stitches, evenly spaced and at least 1/4" long"  The sketch in the book shows a space then a stitch, followed by a space, another stitch and so on.  Is this the look you want?  Would it be possible to mark the area you want to saddle stitch with the placement of spaces and stitches?  Mark the placement so the stitching on your lapels, collar, etc. is symmetrical?

    Also, on page 3 of this link (http://www.corpsofdiscovery.org/Newletters%20Honor%20Guard/Leather%20Working.pdf) has instructions for saddle stitching leather and other types of materials.  It has a completely different look than the Vogue book.   


    1. CareEare | | #3

      Thanks for your reply.  That's the info I have in all the books in my sewing library.  I was surprised that Threads Magazine doesn't have an article on how to do it.  I want to know how to get started and what is the best way of "stabbing" the fabric to get a uniform stitch each time.  I can bumble through it, just wanted an "experts" suggestions.  I am using the saddle stitch on a tropical weight wool jacket and skirt, so the leather tips don't help much!

      1. fearyenot | | #5


        Your suit sounds beautiful.  I'm stumped as far as other sources.  Do stores that specialize in hand stitched projects carry info on this?  Also, I suggested to another postee to try a local university that has some type of fashion design or merchandising program.  I would think a faculty member could point you in the right direction.

        Keep us posted!


        1. CareEare | | #6

          Thanks for getting back to me!  I guess at this point I might as well practice and try it on samples before I try the real thing.  I wanted to find out how to start the stitching and hide the knot, and how to finish it.  My guess is maybe it's like how you start hand quilting.  Oh well, I will let you know what happens!  We don't have a local university/college/school that has clothing design as a major here...so I'm outta luck there!


    2. Coutureforme | | #24

      HI, just joined this discussion group, hope to hear a lot. Another options for placing saddle stitch (or hand-pic), calls for stitching by hand, but after marking the the stitch line with an empty wing-needle in your machine. This will give you evenly spaced stitch placement, which you can then use for hand stitching. Sorta like a punch card, I guess.

      1. mem | | #25

        that is a great idea Thats what I love about this site.

  3. marijke | | #7


    I've done something like this on a child's dress.  I just did it by hand with DMC embroidery floss, it's pretty quick to do.  I used a 1/4 wide tape called 'tiger tape' that comes with premarked lines for evenly spaced stitches.  The following website has a good picture of it.  I think I got mine at JoAnn's.


    You can reuse a length of tape several times until it loses its 'stickiness.'

    Hope this helps,



    1. CareEare | | #8

      Thank you for telling me about the Tiger Tape.  I will try to find it in a store here.   Question:  how did you start and stop the stitching?  What did you do with the "knot"?

      1. marijke | | #9

        I did the stitching on a dress and could hide the knots on the inside. 

        I would take a look at the article on Chanel jackets (latest issue of Threads) and see if you could tie of between layers like suggested for the quilting on those jackets.

        Hope this helps,


  4. ixs | | #10

    I wonder if saddle stitching is the right term as that would be for saddlemaking; however, I have a Butterick pattern, No. 3026, published around 1999, I think, for fleece-lined blazers/jackets that shows whip stitching and blanket stitching for lapels, sleeves, edges, and pockets.  Is that what you are interested in?  The pattern instructions are very sketchy, but it says to use worsted yarn.   And you can find the stitches explained in an embroidery encyclopedia of stitches. 

    This kind of thing/problem is the creative part of sewing that I like; I'm sure you'll come up with a good way of solving this.  Hope this helps.

    1. CareEare | | #12

      As far as I know, this is what the stitch is called.  I want to do it as hand stitching.  The stitching I want to do is almost a running stitch that is equally spaced.  One suggestion I received was to purchase Tiger Tape and use that to space it evenly along the outer edges of the lapel.  I will be using pearl cotton to do the stitching.  What you have suggested is the blanket stitch which go over the entire thickness of the lapel...I know how to do that, but is not what I am looking for.  Thanks for your feedback!

      1. ixs | | #14

        Is it the whipstitch?  That was the other stitch suggested in the pattern.

        1. CareEare | | #17

          Actually, no it is not.  Read the most recent message from "mem".  That's it exactly!

          1. roone | | #18

            Hi CareEare, I just read responses regarding your question about how to start. I haven't read your question but I've got a suggestion. I like the idea of the little knot and pulling it through but this is what I do. I take the threaded needle, no knot, I go through the layes of fabric about two to three inches from where I want to begin. I then pull the needle and thread through at the starting point leaving a tag end in between the layers about two to three inches. At the start point I take two to three (depending on the type of fabric)tiny back stitches in one spot looping the needle through each stitch and gently pulling tight. This knots well and the tag is in the layers of fabric. It works especially well with fine fabric when a knot would damage the fabric.

  5. mimi | | #11

    Do you want to handstitch or machine stitch?  To handstitch, use a water soluable pen and mark every place you want to sticth for about 3 inches; you should be able to "eyeball" it after that.  To machine stitch use a basting stitch if it is wide enough.


    1. CareEare | | #13

      I want to hand stitch the "saddle stitching".  One other person suggested that I use Tiger Tape to evenly space my stitches.  What would be your suggestion on how to "hide/bury" the starting and stopping knots?  I would like them to not be visible!

  6. mem | | #15

    I do know how to start and finish . You will do it on the collar after it is constructed and trim the seam allowance . The get your thread and put a very small knot in  it, insert the needle between the layers and as the knot comes to the fabric  surface give it a little tug and it will disappear between the layers ,come up where you want to start and do one back stitch and then start your stitching.when you finish ,stop and do a back stitch and then again go between the layers and run the needle along between the layers and come out on the back of the collar pull the thread out a little so that when it is snipped, it will disappear between the layers.You wont see any beginnings or ends and it is also what you do if you want to start a new piece of thread during your work .To get it even I would use tape as edging guide and then use dots in a washable pen to get the spacing right. I would also use a sharp short quilting needle as they are so much easier to do the in/ out action with.

    1. CareEare | | #16

      Oh my word, thank you,  THANK YOU!!! You have answered the question that has been swimming around in my head!  Thank you for telling me how to get started and how to finish.  I kinda figured it was something like that, and had been trying visually to do it in my head to figure it out.  Next question, since you are the most knowledgeable about this stitch, do you go through all the layers or just the top?  I had a discussion with an ace dressmaker and she thought that it was only through the top layer.  I have seen it go through all layers on very expensive suits.  What do you think?

      1. mem | | #19

        I suspect that the ones you see done on very expensive garments are done using a machine . I think that it depends on your fabric and the ease with which you can go in and out etc. I think I would do it through the top layers only though.But then if the under bit is visible from the top maybe through all layers.

        1. CareEare | | #21

          Your suggestions have been an immeasurable help to me.  Now I just have to adjust the fit for the jacket from my first fitting and I should be ready to attempt this.  If you hear any mutterings of frustration, you'll know it's from me!  Your instructions I think will keep my mutterings to a minimum!  Thanks for all your help!

      2. mrsdwight | | #20

        When I use a saddle stitch, I like to go through all the layers in a punch-and-poke method so that the stitches are more defined. The stitches are also more easily kept even than a running stitch.

        To space them evenly, I usually use a machine stitch in the desired length; handstitch beside it; then remove the machine stitching.

        1. CareEare | | #22

          Thank you for the suggestion.  I haven't had time to go look for Tiger Tape, so I think I will use your method for spacing and placement!  I have gotten wonderful feedback from all sorts of members....so I should be an expert on this by now!  Now, I just have to DO it!

          1. Kilroywashere | | #23

            Real saddle stitching of leather is done with a stitching awl.  You mark the leather with a rolling pricking tool - (it looks like a rowelled spur) that is at the stitch length that you want.  Using waxed linen thread in the stitching awl, you plunge the awl through your leather.  Pull the loose end of the thread to the far side of the leather.  Pull a length that is twice the distance that you intend to stitch.  Withdraw the awl, and plunge through at the next stitch mark.  pull the awl slightly back so that the thread eases and loops between the leather and the point of the awl.  Slip the loose end of the thread through this loop.  Pull the awl back out of the stitch, and pull the thread tight enough to draw the place where the loose and working thread twist back into the thickness of the leather.  Take the next stitch. 

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