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How to Padstitch


Padstitching is permanent hand stitching that is used to secure interfacing to the fabric and to give shape to pieces. When padstitching, you have two layers of fabric—the garment fabric and the hair canvas (page link). Normally when you apply interfacing, you fuse or baste it to the fabric piece flat. With hair canvas and padstitching, the piece is curved or rolled into shape and padstitches are sewn through both layers to keep them in shape. It’s a way of turning flat pieces of fabric into permanently shaped three-dimensional forms.



Padstitching on coat collar

Padstitching on coat collar


Padstitch collars and lapels in tailored jackets to add shape and to form permanent curves and rolls but only when using hair canvas. You can’t padstitch with fusible interfacing. The padstitching is done on the undercollar and inner layer of the lapel, so that the stitching won’t show through on the upper surface. Padstitching is traditionally done with silk thread, but you can get the same effect using all-purpose polyester thread if silk thread is hard to find. Silk thread is slippery, so it passes through the hair canvas easily and won’t leave impressions on your fabric from the basting. It’s also strong, which is great for creating structure with padstitching. The ability to mold, shape and form garments is just another way to add quality to your sewn garments. Padstitching a collar, for example, adds quality to tailored garments and makes them look less homemade

Tips + Notes

  • Practice makes perfect! It’s OK for your stitches to be uneven when you start padstitching.
  • Padstitching works best on thicker wool fabrics, so the stitches are hidden in the thickness.
  • Only padstitch the undercollar. Leave the upper collar as is or apply a light fusible interfacing.
  • Wear a thimble to protect the tip of your finger. Use the tip of the thimble to push the needle through, instead of the soft pads of your fingers.


How to padstitch (1)

Cut a layer of hair canvas (page link) using your pattern piece. In this example I padstitch a coat collar, creating a roll where I want the fold of the collar to fall. If your undercollar is two pieces, sew the seam with an abutted seam (page link) or overlap the edges and zigzag and then trim the excess seam allowance. To decide where to place the padstitching, you’ll need to have the roll line marked on your hair canvas. This line may be marked on your pattern piece.

How to padstitch (2)

If not, use your muslin (page link) to determine the roll line. Pin the garment closed at the center front, let the collar fold over naturally, and mark the line where the collar rolls over. Transfer this line with a marking pen onto the hair canvas.

How to padstitch (3)

Once you have the roll line marked on the hair canvas piece, draw in the padstitching lines. For the collar stand, draw lines parallel to the roll line about ¼” (6mm) apart. On the collar itself, draw lines ½” (1.3cm) apart. Do not draw the lines into the seam allowances but leave a 5⁄8″ (1.5cm) border all around the edges. Lay the undercollar on your table, with the wrong side facing up, and layer the hair canvas interfacing on top. Thread a handsewing needle with thread, and baste (page link) all along the roll line, with uneven stitches, through both layers. Make long stitches on the surface, with small stitches through the collar fabric. This will keep the layers together in the right place when you fold it.

How to padstitch (4)

Start your padstitching on the collar stand. Roll the collar along the roll line, keeping your opposite hand under the collar to hold the shape. Starting at one side, make a series of diagonal stitching lines between the roll line and the first marked line, stopping before you reach the seam allowances. Make each stitch about ¼” (6mm) long, catching just a thread or two of the collar fabric without going through.

How to padstitch (5)

On your second row, alternate the angle of the stitches so they make a row of Vs with the first row. Continue until the collar stand is covered with stitches.

How to padstitch (6)

With the hair canvas side up, rotate the piece so the collar stand is away from you and the collar itself is facing you. Fold the collar along the roll line, and hold the collar in this position as you sew, making another row of diagonal lines on the first ½” (1.3cm) line after the roll line. Continue to sew rows of padstitching. Make the stitches in this section about ½” (1.3cm) long. After a couple of rows, the collar will start to keep its shape. Keep going until the collar is covered with stitches. It will now hold the rolled shape all on its own.

How to padstitch (7)

Wrap the collar around a tailor’s ham (page link) and pin it in place. Steam to shape the collar, and leave it overnight to dry. Once it’s dry, trim off the hair canvas seam allowance 5⁄8″ (1.5cm) around the edges. Measure the distance to trim from the collar fabric, not from the hair canvas, so there is an even 5⁄8″ (1.5cm) all around the hair canvas piece.

Source : The Sewtionary An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques + Definitions
About the Author : Tasia ST. Germaine