Saturday 9 May 2015

Sewing Tip 2: Diagonal Basting

Diagonal basting is the best stitch ever for holding pieces exactly where you want them, prior to machine stitching them together. Unlike using a running basting stitch, or pins, diagonally basted pieces will not shift, since a ladder of stitches is created that holds in all directions. It is also quick, and uniquely satisfying. Here's what to do:

Fig. 1 Keep the needle pointing to the left
  • Assuming you are right-handed (sorry lefties), hold the needle horizontally, with the sharp end pointing left. Keep the needle in this position the whole time. (Fig. 1)
  • Fig. 2 All-over diagonal basting - nothing's going to move

  • Begin work on the lower left side of the area to be basted. If covering a large area, work up to the top, move one stitch over to the right, then down to the bottom, over to the right, up to the top, etc. (Fig. 2)
  • Do not knot the thread. It is easier to remove basting thread that is un-knotted, and ensures the fabric will lie flat, and not be inadvertently distorted by too-tight basting. Doing the first two stitches close together will prevent the thread from pulling out as you begin to work.
  • Take a (roughly) 1cm-long horizontal stitch through the layers to be basted, right to left. Move the needle about an inch above the previous stitch (or below, depending if you are travelling up or down) and repeat.

    Fig. 3 To prevent tangling, let the thread glide under the fingertip
  • For easiest hand stitching, use cotton, threaded onto the needle with the grain - as it came off the spool. Minimize further tangling by placing the pointer finger of the left hand gently on the thread as it travels through the hole in the garment. (Fig. 3)
  • The front of the work will resemble parallel diagonal lines or chevrons. The back of the work will show only small, horizontal parallel lines.
  • This stitch, done closer together, is used in tailoring to pad collars and lapels. It is excellent for preventing t-shirt hems from twisting when hemming with a twin needle. I use it every time I sew or drape. Nothing else works as well to prevent shifting.

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