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What is in a stitch?

Have you ever thought about looking at the stitching of a garment when purchasing it, especially the internal stitching?

Most people don’t, I bet it wouldn’t even cross their mind to think about looking, I mean honestly why would it?

It would probably cross your mind if you sewed, but for the general part of the population that doesn’t, it wouldn’t, right?

For me it is one of the first things I look at.

I’m a very tactile person I love the feel of a beautiful natural fabric, so before I do anything with a garment, I run my fingers through the fabric.

If it's synthetic I walk away instantly, I just can’t stand the feeling of it.

But the next thing I do is examine the stitching and the care that has gone into the making of the garment.

I look at the joining of the stitches, do they meet? How far do they overlap? If a thread has broken during mid sew what does the back-tack look like how neat is it? Are there lots of loose threads?


You are probably laughing at me right now, but yes, I am that pedantic.

In fact, when I was at Uni my sewing lectures always used to have a chuckle at me. If I ran out of bobbin thread or my top thread snapped in mid sew along a seam, I wouldn’t just restart the

stitch I would unpick the row and start again so I didn’t have a joining stitch and back-tacking in the middle of my beautiful seam. My lectures used to joke and say that I would never make it as a factory or sample machinist, I would always be too slow, because I was such a perfectionist when it came to my stitching. I have gotten a little better about it, although I still try very hard not to run out of thread in mid stitch.


To me stitching represents the actual cost of the garment, the true cost.


The fact that the manufacture is being pressured to sell the garment at such a low rate that the machinist has no time to take care in putting the garment together. Why because in the fashion world time is money! The more time the garment takes to come off the manufacturing line the more costly it is to make.




But, don’t think that if you payed over $100 or more for a garment they pay the factory or the machinist more money and you get a better-quality garment.

(Above images are from same garment, which had a price tag of over $150.)


A good portion of the time you are just paying for the name, to wear the label!

Retailers are not as honest as they make themselves out to be. Bottom line it is all about profit margins. Where can they cut costs to pay as little as they can for the garment and how much they think they can con the consumer (that’s you) into paying for it and believing that it is worth the price paid.


Quality and construction of the fabric is the first sign of true cost, but this is knowledge the general consumer does not have, so we go to the next best thing the stitching! This one you don’t need years of experience or a degree to understand it, you just need to know what to look for.

The stitch is the silent language in which a garment speaks to the customer. Look at it and listen to what it is saying about the time taken to make it.


At the end of the day to buy or not to buy is a matter of choice, but we should at the very least have some understanding of what we are buying.

If we are a more conscious consumers and have a greater understanding in what we are buying, it will make it harder for the retailers to pull the wool over our eyes.


(Garments used in example images are from a number of retailers and range in price from $8 to $200.)

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