A history of sewing
Sewing is the art of stitching two items together with a needle and thread. It is a craft and is one of the oldest textile arts dating back to the prehistoric era. Archaeologists believe that a needle and thread was used during the last ice age to sew hide, skin, fur and bark together to make clothing. Sewing is used in the process of upholstery, clothes making, bookbinding, sail making, tapestry, quilting, embroidery, patch working and appliqué. Until the invention of the sewing machine, sewing was done by hand. The sewing machine brought change to the sewing industry as now sewing became much faster and easier, therefore leading to mass production of various sewn products. The skill of hand sewing is still practised today by textile artists and is used in tailoring, haute couture fashion, dressmaking and textile arts and crafts.
Tools of the trade
Sewing Needles - various sizes with sharp for stitching and rounded for knit wear.
Chalk - to mark out fabric before cutting it.
Thimble - wear it on the middle finger so that you can push a needle through fabric.
Pin Cushion - stick pins into it to avoid losing them.
Scissors - a strong pair such as dressmakers shears to cut fabric of various thickness and and to prevent fabric fraying some pinking shears.
Tape measure - to measure out fabric.
Threads, buttons, fasteners, hooks and snaps of various colours and thicknesses to suit different clothing.
The three basic hand stitches are the backstitch, the slip stitch and the running stitch. First thread a needle with a 60cm length of thread and put a knot at one end.
This is a strong stitch and is suitable for sewing seams. Place the front sides of the fabric together and push the needle through both layers. Push the needle back though the fabric approximately 1/4 of a centimeter to the right and up approximately 1/4 of a centimeter to the left of where you began. Repeat this process, ensuring that each stitch overlaps the previous one by 1/4 of a centimeter.
This stitch is suitable for sewing hems. The thread is hidden from view in the fold of fabric where it experiences little wear and tear and should therefore last a long time. Make a fold in the fabric small enough to just encase the edges of the fabric. Make another fold of the width you want for the hem. Place the needle within the fold and then push it through the fabric to the front layer. Push the needle back into the fold and repeat the process.
This is a temporary stitch which can be used to hold fabric together before sewing. Push the needle through at even spacings apart a few times and repeat the process as required.
When you have completed your hand stitching it is necessary to tie of the thread. Take a small stitch on the reverse side of the fabric and pull the thread through, pushing the needle through the loop of the thread. Pull the thread to form a second loop, pushing the needle through that loop and then pull it tight.