101: Pad Stitch

Pad stitching is a means of joining two pieces of fabric together. In the context of tailoring, it’s used to join a relatively stiff, non-fusible interfacing (like the one you see above) to the lapels or collar, with the aim of shaping the fabric to ‘roll’ nicely and keep it’s form.

I generally tend to use horse hair canvas as my interfacing of choice in this application – which is also known as ‘hymo’ or ‘hair cloth’ (which in times gone past was actually made out of either horse or camel hair, but nowadays is generally a blend of wool and goat hair). 

The pad stitch is applied to the collar or lapel piece which will be underneath the collar or lapel – so the stitches aren’t seen (If you’re skilled, you can do it so they don’t show at all). You keep the pad stitches outside the seam allowances, so when you’re finished, you can sew the top and underneath sections of the collar or lapel together and no-one but you will know what’s hidden underneath.  

In this explanation, I’ll be showing you how to do the stitch only – its best to discuss the types of interfacing when in context of its use, as each tailoring project is different. There are numerous ways to do the pad stitch – I rather like my pad stitches to form ‘chevrons’. 

The first thing I do is usually mark grid lines in chalk on the canvas. I use 1/4 inch spacing when I’m working ‘underneath’ the roll line (the part of the collar or lapel which folds the most) then go out to 1/2 inch spacing for the remainder, switching back to 1/4 inch spacing at the corners of the collar. You can see my lines marked on the canvas here:

So first – using silk thread, thread your needle and tie a knot at the end. Insert your needle between the interfacing and shell fabric, and pull through so your knot is hidden from sight between the two fabric layers. I’m only using a single layer – the canvas – in this example for simplicities sake.

Holding your finger underneath the fabric to ‘shape it’ into the roll that we want it to eventually form, insert your needle perpendicular to the blue chalked guidelines:

Pull through and repeat until you get to the end of line. As a rule of thumb, I generally try to maintain the 1/4 or 1/2 inch distance between each stitch, so that the stitch is a diagonal in an imaginary square. When you’ve sewn your last stitch for the line, take a tiny stitch that bridges the chalked line like below:

When you’ve pulled this through, to start the new line you simply take another stitch perpendicular to the blue chalk line but in line with the matching stitch underneath:

Keep going until you hit the next end – take another tiny stitch and continue on in the other direction:

And that’s how you pad stitch.



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