Pick stitch is an easy stitch that you can just pick up and do. It is a delicate, mini form of running stitch. Pick stitch is the feature you look out for if you want to buy an exclusive suit for a man or blazer with a very upmarket hand-made look.
What is Pick Stitch?
Pick stitch is the small almost invisible stitch running along the lapel part of a jacket collar. It is also used on the pockets and is the classical feature of handmade, tailored suits and jackets.
Pick stitch is also known as stab stitch.
Pick stitch requires a bit of practice to get right and is similar to an open backstitch. This hand-sewn stitch is an art and sets a handmade suit apart from other suits. Pick stitch also features on pocket flaps and can look good on other items of clothing like shirts, jeans and is even used on hems of skirts. Pick stitch may be used to sew in a zipper and attach facings, but because it is labor-intensive, the hand-stitched version is not as popular as a machine-stitched edging.
A pick stitch in a contrasting color or embroidery floss adds variety to the trim of a garment and can decorate hems and necklines.
How to Do Pick Stitch
Step 1 - Preparation
Preparation is very important. since this stitch relies on being fairly accurate.
If you need to stitch a straight line, mark it with masking tape or fabric tape. This allows accuracy and exactly the right amount of space from the edge. I like to use ¼ inch (6mm) double-sided fabric tape.
Each stitch that is sewn has to be exactly the right size and distance from the other stitches.
Step 2 - Hiding the Knot
Thread your needle and secure the end with a knot. For sewing thread, use it doubled over. If you are using embroidery floss you would thread the needle single and knot the end.
Push the needle up from inside the garment into the fabric and through to the upper side. The needle should go through the seam allowance to the top.
Note that pick stitch is sewn right to left.
If you are sewing a facing, then the needle will go through to the top of the facing which will be the inside of the garment. For lapels and pockets the needle will be pushed through to the top of the outside of the garment.
Step 3 - Backstitch
The thread has exited at point (1).
Return the needle a few threads back at point (2)
The needle is inserted behind the point the needle came out of as it is worked like a backstitch.
Pull the thread carefully through to the right side about ¼” ahead of the first stitch at point (3).
It is important that the needle passes through the top layer and through the seam allowance but not through the bottom layer of fabric.
Step 4 - Repeat
This forms the pick stitch and you continue in this manner along the length of the marked line.
If possible, you may find it easier to separate the top and bottom layers. Make sure though that the seam allowance is pressed towards the side you are stitching on.
This delicate stitch should resemble a line of tiny dots along the edge of the fabric if it is done properly. The wrong side will show the longer part of the stitch as your needle went back on the stitch lines.
Alternatives to Pick Stitch
If you are sewing facings, the alternative to pick stitch is to understitch. It serves a similar purpose of stopping the facing from rolling up and is done with your sewing machine.
For finishing lapels or pockets, you can leave the edge unstitched or topstitch with a sewing machine.
Pick Stitch - In Conclusion
Pick stitch is not for the impatient or quick fix seamstress. It is a stitch you would pick if you had time and patience to practice this and perfect the stitch. In the right setting pick stitch shows you have good taste and are able to pick out a classic suit – its the hallmark of quality and couture.