sailmaker's stitching

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The types of stitching used with sails, awnings, etc. when it is not possible to use a machine. There are three types: flat sewing is used to join two pieces of sailcloth or canvas where strength is not of paramount importance. The selvedge of one piece of material is placed along the seam line of the other, both are hooked onto a sailmaker's hook to keep them taut, and the needles passed down through the single cloth close to the selvedge and then up through both cloths, and so on until the whole seam is completed, with a back stitch to terminate the line of sewing. The normal spacing is three stitches to 2.5 centimetres (1 in.). When the first seam is completed, the work is reversed and the selvedge of the piece of cloth sewn to the seam line in the same way. The direction of sewing in flat sewing is always away from the hook.

Round sewing is used where greater strength is required, the stitches passing through four thicknesses of the cloth instead of two. There are two forms, known as single last and double last. In single last, each cloth to be joined has its edge turned in about 1.8 centimetres, the two are then placed together, held taut with a sailmaker's hook, and joined at the edge by passing the needle through all four parts about 3 centimetres from the edge and back over the top, making four stitches every 2.5 centimetres. In double last, the selvedge of one piece of cloth is placed level with the doubled edge of the other and the seam sewn as in the single last. The work is then reversed and the selvedge of the other piece is similarly stitched to the other, which is doubled at the seam line. In round sewing, the direction of sewing is always towards the hook.

Darning is used to repair small tears. The first stitch is made by bringing the needle up through the sail about 2.5 centimeters (1 in.) from the side of the tear, down through it a similar distance on the other side, then up through the tear and through the bight formed by the twine. Subsequent stitches are made by passing the needle through the tear, up through the sail on one side, down on the other side leaving a small bight, and then up through the tear and the bight. This forms a locked stitch, each one being drawn taut as it is finished. The stitches are made close together to give greater strength.

See also prick, to; table, to; monk's seam.

See also prick, to; table, to; monk's seam.

[a] Flat sewing

[b] Round sewing

[c] Sailmaker's darn

Subjects: Maritime History.

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