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Message Board > Sewing Techniques and Tips > Stitch Length for Garment Sewing ( Moderated by MissCelie)

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Stitch Length for Garment Sewing
Peggy Sagers recommends 3.5 mm
Steffie
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Date: 10/28/12 1:17 PM

I am reading my new Threads magazine and there is an article titled "Better Sewing Habits". In the article, Peggy Sagers recommends stitching garments with a 3.5mm stitch length in lieu of the usual 2.5mm length. Her reasoning is that stress placed on a seam with a shorter stitch length will cause the fabric to tear around the stitches where a seam sewn with a longer stitch length will break without damaging the garment fabric.

Has anyone used this technique for garment construction? If so, what has been your experience positive or negative?

clotheshorse
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Date: 10/28/12 1:24 PM

I think the appropriate stitch length for a garment is partly determined by the type/weight of the fabric being sewn. It doesn't make sense to say that all garments should be sewn at a 3.5mm stitch.

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schmammy
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Date: 10/28/12 1:26 PM

Hmmmm...this is the same Peggy Sagers who says on a video that she rarely changes the needle on her SM.

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Doris W. in TN
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Date: 10/28/12 2:06 PM

I took a seminar from P. Sagers at a sewing expo, where she said the same thing. After that, I started looking at RTW seams and made my stitch lengths longer. I have not gone up to 3.5, but I have un-married myself to a 2.0 for everything. Often 3.0 is as wild and crazy as I get.

Like clotheshorse said, stitch length varies with the fabric, as does needle size. I use 3.0 for heavier fabrics and tailored jackets. The nice thing is that it is much easier to rip out a seam (goes with the territory in my sewing room LOL) when the stitch length is longer.

AdaH
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Date: 10/28/12 3:31 PM

After hearing Peggy talk about a 3.5 stitch length I started using a 3 stitch length.
I do like it better. Not sure how to write why I like it better?
I think the way the seam lays is what I like.

I have used 2.5 for years and years and I have never had a 2.5 stitch length tear the fabirc. Maybe she had a really bad experience?

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Ada

NhiHuynh
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Date: 10/28/12 3:34 PM

You have to remember the context that Peggy is using. She sews clothing (shirts, pants, dresses etc). She is also speaking from a factory background. My mom was a factory sewer and she never used tight stitches. She also used 1 needle, 1 pressure feet, her industrial Juki only did a straight stitch and she doesn't even own pins. So it's a different context. For everyday wear clothing I used 3-4 stitch length. Never had any problems. I've sewn about 90% of my wardrobe and wear something sewn by me everyday so clothing get lots of wear.

For purses, bras and hats I've used smaller stitch lengths. These need more precision than a long stitch can maneuver. Also shorter stitches at the end of darts. Just depends on what you're sewing.

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stirwatersblue
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Date: 10/28/12 8:30 PM

Interesting! The preset on my Viking is 2.5, but I definitely find that too small for most of my purposes. I usually set it at 3.5, which seems to be a comfortable size for most things I do. but it's one of those instinct/experimental things, and I adjust as needed. I taught myself to sew on a machine where the stitch length adjuster was a dial, so until I had the Viking I had no way to judge the exact length of the stitch. The longest stitch my machine will do is 4.5--which is really too long for anything useful, but yet not long enough for a true basting stitch! I wish it went up to 6 or 6.5.
-- Edited on 10/28/12 8:34 PM --

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GlButterfly

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Date: 10/28/12 9:21 PM

One of the reasons that the industry uses longer stitches is so that less thread will be used. After all, they want to make as much profit as possible.

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Al Johnson
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Date: 10/28/12 10:25 PM

This probably has very little bearing on a clothing discussion, but parachutes are sewn at 7 to 11 stitches per inch in the canopy nylon. If you figure that as 9 SPI, it comes out to 2.8 mm. So pretty darn close. Interesting. When we do much heavier sections, like harnesses and so on, with very heavy thread, it changes to 5 to 9 SPI.

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A sewing machine is just a welder for textiles.

beauturbo
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Date: 10/28/12 11:11 PM

If I am hemming my blue jeans and have thicker gold thread in the machine, and sewing on the hems, then I use maybe 35 or even 4.5 mm long stitches sometimes.

For most regular sewing though, I'm probably a lot of the time, more like 2.5 or 3, unless gathering or easing or thinking I might want to rip it out later.

I do think it's way better for your stitches to break rather than your fabric tear when stressed (if it's a woven and really that tight on you) but I try to have wovens with no Lycra in them just not all that tight and close to the body. I actually think what makes a garment tear under stress v.s. your stitches, for me, is the fabric content and thread content though more than the stitch length. So even though all polyester thread for garment sewing is pretty popular on everything, if it was really delicate cotton batiste or something I was sewing on, and I was worried it would be under stress and that might tear fabric before stitches, I think I would just use cotton thread there instead, as then my thread would not be so much stronger and sharper than the fabric.

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