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What Is The Strongest Hand Sewn Stitch

A lot of people prefer to get their hands busy and learn some hand-sewing stitches even when they could do the same with a high-end sewing machine. Even the best tailors and designers need to do some hand sewing for almost every project they are working on. Learning how to do some of the strongest hand-sewn stitches will be invaluable to you in every way, but what is the best?

What Is The Strongest Hand Sewn Stitch

If you were to ask experienced tailors, they would say the backstitch is, by far, one of the strongest, most versatile and durable hand-sewing stitches out there. A backstitch is hand-sewn by inserting the needle behind the previous point, thus allowing the tailor to create a strong knot with every stitch. A hand-sewn stitch if done right and with the strong thread can last for a very long time without losing its tension or coming apart. 

Ironically, a hand-sewn backstitch is actually a more improved version of the weaker, more temporary forward stitch. By changing where the next needlepoint goes into the fabric, you end up creating perhaps the strongest hand-sewn stitch out there. A forward stitch is made by moving the needle through the fabric forward creating a weak bond that can be removed easily by pulling or tension. This is why most tailors would use a forward stitch as a temporary stitch and remove it afterwards.

In contrast, a hand-sewn backstitch can be used for more complex projects in tailoring such as joining fabrics, joining a seam, joining the crotches, sewing sleeves, repairing significant tears and sewing strong fabric such as denim. Unlike forward stitches, a backstitch is essentially meant to be permanent. It would require some effort to undo a backstitch without affecting the underlying fabric.

How do you create the strongest hand-sewn stitch using a backstitch and which other stitches come close to it?

Back stitch – The Strongest Hand-Sewn Stitch 

There are many reasons why most tailors would pick the backstitch over many others as the strongest hand-sewn stitches. Here are some of them:

 

  • Similar to a machine stitch

 

While an experienced tailor can create a strong hand-sewn stitch of any type, there are many things that you wouldn’t do to match what a machine can do. For instance, it’s quite hard to maintain consistency while creating the right tension for durable stitching with a hand-sewn stitch. These are all things that a sewing machine does for you automatically so long as you set the correct tension on the thread and bobbin. 

A properly done hand-sewn stitch is the closest thing you can get a tensioned machine stitch. In fact, an experienced tailor would create a hand-sewn back stitch that looks exactly like a machine stitch and even stronger. 

 

  • Creates a double stitch

 

When you create a backstitch, what you are essentially doing is making a double stitch and tensioning it with every forward movement. This is because you are moving the needle a few inches back from the previous point and overshooting by a few inches. You end up creating and tensioning a strong knot for every single stitch you make. A hand-sewn double stitch is pretty hard to achieve with most sewing machines unless they support backstitching.

 

  • The back stitch is permanent 

 

Most tailors prefer the backstitch because it is permanent. The seams, crotches and sleeves on most garments were probably done with a short backstitch to remain permanently attached. Backstitches are permanent because of the knot created for each stitch. They could not be undone easily even if the end of the stitch was cut off or let loose, unlike other stitches. 

 

  • Consistent stitch 

 

Hand sewing with a backstitch allows you to create a consistent stitch much similar to a typical machine stitch. It’s much easier to have the same machine effect with a backstitch since you are using the previous stitch as reference for your next stitch. Needless to say, missing the mark with a backstitch will, in most cases, ruin the job at that point so be steady!

 

  • The strongest hand-sewn stitch is easy to learn!

 

This may not be a reason why the backstitch is the strongest hand-sewn stitch, but it is nevertheless worth pointing out. Compared to other relatively strong hand-sewn stitches, the hand-sewn back stitch is, by far, the easiest and most fun to learn. It may be because the backstitch is quite similar to the forward stitch- one of the very first-hand stitches you learn as an amateur in tailoring.

You will find yourself wanting to do backstitches for every job even when another type of stitch would be more ideal as it’s just too easy, yet so strong. 

How to Create the Strongest Hand-Sewn Stitch

Learning the hand-sewn backstitch doesn’t require a lot of time or resources. Here is what you’ll need

Requirements

  • Some fabric to join together – Two patches will do for practice
  • An ordinary needle
  • General-purpose sewing thread- preferably polyester for its toughness
  • A pair of scissors
  • Time to spare and learn

Step one- prepare your tools and fabric

First, start by cutting threading your needle with some thread that is not too long but enough to complete the job. Remember to leave enough allowance as you will need longer thread than the patch you will be sewing. Finish by creating a knot at the end of the thread to avoid it coming off from the first stitch.

Place the two fabric pieces you want to join. You can use some sewing pins to hold them together temporally as you sew. To be safe and for a straight stitch, it’s advisable to mark a straight line to guide you as you sew.  

Step 2- start the backstitch 

Start by inserting the needle on the end of the fabric, taking it through both fabrics as if you were creating a forward stitch and bring it out on the other end. Remember to follow the guidelines. Also, you should sew with the back of the fabric facing down if you want to create an invisible backstitch. An invisible back stitch refers to where all the stitches are on the inside of the fabric.

Step 3- loop the backstitch

Here is the point where you create your very first backstitch. Now move the needle back a few inches from the last exit point and push it into both fabrics. From the back, move the needle a few inches in front of the previous exit point and push it through the fabric and tension the stitch creating a complete loop. Congratulations, you just created your first backstitch!

Now you can continue in the same fashion making sure you keep the same distance or spacing between the stitches. If you want an invisible stitch, ensure that you insert the needle as close as possible to the previous exit point when doing the loopback. This way, there won’t be any thread visible when you tension the needle with every backstitch.  

Finish the job by creating a know on the wrong side of the fabric and tensioning it. 

Related Questions

 Is hand sewing as strong as machine sewing?

Hand sewing can be as strong as machine sewing if done by an experienced tailor using the right stitches. For instance, it’s possible to achieve the same level of toughness as a sewing machine if you sew with a backstitch and use strong sewing thread. However, sewing machines are generally better at creating strong, consistent and durable stitches as compared to hand-sewing. 

With a sewing machine, a tailor can set the appropriate tension and stitching distance to create a very strong and consistent sew, something that is nearly impossible to achieve with hand sewing.  This is perhaps, one of the reasons why most seams have to be done using a sewing machine and why modern garments last for much longer without coming apart.

How do you hand stitch a strong seam?

Using a backstitch and tough poly-cotton thread, you can hand stitch a very strong seam. Ensure that you keep a very short distance for each backstitch and maintain a straight line.

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