Catch stitch

Catch stitch is a hand sewing technique used to join two pieces of fabric or create a sturdy hem, it prevents tension or pulling on the fabric, which may cause wear or damage. In hemming a garment it can be used between layers creating a hidden hem. Enclosed in the finished hem, the threads are less likely to snag. It is a secure and strong stitch. One faces the needle in the opposite direction one is working, the stitches cross over each other, creating an ‘X’. The closer the stitch, the stronger the hold on the fabrics.

I have no memory of learning this stitch, it seems to be embodied in my hands, holding Nana’s blankets, I can trace the stitches she made to hold the heavyweight blanket together. Nana was more into functional sewing over embellishment, she needed these blankets to do a job. The creative play is in her choice of high coloured and patterned fabrics, and how she paired them for each blanket. Her stitch work is strong and practical, I can see this in the exposed structural stitching of her blankets. These blankets are heavy, hard to sew, you need a strong needle, a thimble, and strong hands.

When I was sewing the work Catch Stitch I used my bed and my body, to lay out and arrange the fabric pieces economically and aesthetically. The grey wool blanket is thin with some moth holes, but still warm if scratchy and dull coloured. Nana would have appreciated the pink, orange, and cream and gold fabric I chose, two from her stash, one de-stashed to me from a friend. The fabrics were laundered, dried in the sun, on the line, laid on my bed in various configurations. Trimmed of fraying edges, the larger fabrics basted to the wool blanket, then framed with the cream and gold jacquard style fabric.

catch stitch low res.

Joy Smith, example of catch stitch, 2019. (Photograph by Angela Rowe).

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