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Eyes on the Plaid

I am finishing up the top stitching on the orange and purple plaid coat before I insert the lining and wanted to note some “discoveries” in working with plaid.

There is quite a bit of a casual style of top stitching on this Marfy 1877 pattern. Click on the link to get a bigger picture but this little one might do to remind:


By casual I mean that it is not symmetrical: there is top stitching on only one side of the seam line, not on both sides which to me would make the look more formal and in my mind, require a more precise top stitching than what I can produce by stitching by hand alone without a visual aid for straightness.

At first I was a bit disgruntled by the inaccuracies that my unguided stitching produced but when I looked at the garment from a bit of distance it seemed somewhat gay and carefree and had a “personality”

By Eye and Hand

I decided that this plaid and garment shape benefited from the added carefree style so I stitched ahead last night all cozy sitting next to the HusPartner, surrounded by dogs and The Cat, in front of the TV. But something bothered me in the cold light of morning. It wasn’t good enough! When the hand stitching is done next to a curved seam or in an area where the fabric will have a lot of movement the slight variations added to the pleasing effect of top stitching but in a long stretch of vertical it just wouldn’t do.

See what I mean?

Eye Confused

Next to the vertical back and front seams, the top stitching must be straight to satisfy my eye. I considered “pouncing” out the pattern like would be done in doing an embroidered and beaded design a la Lesage and indeed gathered the cardboard, talcum powder, marking wheel and punch when it hit me….

No need for all this when a simple machine stitch would give me the guideline I needed.

Guiding Stitch Line

I used the presser foot edge as a guide and moved the needle over a couple of clicks and slowly basted with extra thin threads. I can stitch next to the machine basting and be somewhat under control 🙂

Whew, I just saved myself a ton of work: pouncing would have been time consuming and the talc would have rubbed off the stitching line. Eeeyyyy, I would have driven me nuts! I’ll still have the casual “by hand” look but it will be straight in the vertical fronts and back. Yay.

About Mary Beth

I am fascinated by changing patterns and colored threads. I sew garments and am teaching myself to machine knit. Since selling the building that housed my workrooms, The Stitchery, I'm searching for a place to set up the knitting machines again. There must be room here somewhere!

11 responses »

  1. 🙂 I’ve used the machine basting a time or two to get the hand stitching right also!

    • I can not imagine how stooopid I’d feel if I’d actually gone through with the talc and all…Now that’s really over thinking a problem!!! So much for armchair sewing!

  2. Love your dedication. Good tip and loving the results so far.

  3. I love the warm colors and plaid too, so I’m
    absolutely jealous of this spring coat! It
    looks great on you too!

  4. Good solution to have a guide line for the hand stitching. I know there is a special tape for this purpose with marks for the stitch length . (sorry forgot the name of the tape)

  5. Great solution! I have used the marked tape and I belive it’s called “Tiger Tape”, in the quilting section of fabric stores.

    • Yeah, Gwen that Tiger Tape looks to be a good tool to have in the stash. But with my poor brain I couldn’t figure out which one to order off the website. I’ll have to see it in a store. That’s how it goes these days (Sigh)

  6. I’ve done similar things before by using the machine stitching as a guideline. Sure beats trying to eyeball it or use a ruler. Very smart!


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