For a long time, I’ve entertained the idea of doing a hand-sewn Elizabethan shirt. I’ve done enough hand-sewing to know that I can just whip-stitch all the pieces together, but the Janet Arnold book “Patterns of Fashion 4” has all these lovely shirts that are sewn together with insertion stitches. There’s not a lot of instruction though and I’ve had a hard time figuring out how they were done.
There is a diagram on page 6 that shows several insertion stitches, but not a step by step instruction which is the thing I was lacking. After combing through my embroidery books I finally found instructions for one stitch (the second one below) which is pretty easy to do. There are some tutorials online that show an insertion stitch, but most of them call for pinning the pieces to be sewn together to cardboard or similar to maintain an even spacing between the pieces. Because I wanted to do seams, I wanted something decorative but that could be easily done for long pieces, in hand, without a large gap. I’ll try figuring out some of the other insertion stitches in the future.
I’m calling it a twisted zigzag insertion stitch.
First, finish the edges of the pieces you want to seam together. For my shirt I turned the linen under twice and did a running stitch.
Place wrong sides of the pieces you are joining together. Pin long seams if you need to.
Use an embroidery thread or similar weight thread. I’m using Soie Perlee which is a twisted silk thread. (Resist the temptation to cut your thread too long.)
Knot the end of the thread and bury the knot under the hem on the wrong side of the fabric.
Put your needle through the fabric going into the center (about an 1/8 of an inch from the edge), catching only the front side of the two pieces. Pull the needle through, with the needle over the tail of the thread.
From the back, put your needle through the fabric going into the center (about an 1/8 of an inch from the edge), catching only the back piece of fabric. Pull the needle through, with the needle over the tail of the thread.
Keep going. Try to be consistent with how far down you enter the fabric with the needle and how far apart you make the stitches. (Don’t make yourself crazy though. It’s hand-work and it’s not going to be machine perfect.)
When you get to the end of your thread, knot it, bury the knot in between the pieces. I haven’t quite figured out an elegant way to start a new thread, though putting the needle through the fabric going into the center and looping through the last stitch and then continuing as before seems to work.
If you have questions, please let me know. Happy Stitching!
(Sorry for some of the pictures. I’ll have to figure out a better way than using my phone.)