The Popular Catch Stitch

The Catch stitch, presumably, was named so because it was a popular stitch used to catch edges or seams in fabrics … most notably flannels. It also is called the Herringbone stitch. It is a kind of cross-stitch.

Below are the directions school students were given to learn this stitch. You will find these very clear, concise and easy to understand. If only all Victorian instructions were so clear! If you haven’t tried the Catch stitch, follow these instructions. You will soon be sewing this useful (and decorative) stitch with ease.

Catch Stitch Instructions

Materials. — A long-eyed needle, a knot of split zephyr, and a piece of canvas.

catch stitch in a straight line
catch stitch used in a corner

Click on picture to see more detail.

Figure 1. — Showing catch-stitches, and the needle in position; the straight lines represent the threads of the canvas.

Figure 2. — Showing a corner turned, and the needle in position for turning a corner.

  1. Work from you, holding the canvas over the left forefinger.
  2. Insert the needle from underneath, at the lower left-hand corner.
  3. From the place where the zephyr comes out, count to the right four threads, then forward four threads; insert the needle, and pointing it toward you take up two threads.
  4. From the place where the zephyr comes out, count to the left four threads, then forward four threads, and take up two threads as before.
  5. Continue in the same manner, making the stitches to the right, then to the left; the zephyr crossing diagonally (Fig. 1).
  6. Notice that the little cross at one side, comes between the cross on the opposite side, and that the needle comes out on a line with its insertion for the previous stitch.
  7. Turn the corner, by taking a stitch at the left, insert the needle at the right, and pointing it towards the left, taking up two threads (Fig. 2). Turn the canvas, and holding the next side across the left forefinger continue as before (Fig. 2).

Suggestions. — In catch-stitching on flannel, small knots may be made if they can be concealed. When ending, fasten the thread by running it in and out under the last stitch. The thread can be fastened in beginning and finishing, by leaving an end to be sewed over and over with fine cotton on the wrong side.

The raw edge of a hem on woolen material may be fastened by catch-stitches, to avoid the ridge formed by folding the edge. The edges of a seam in flannel may be fasten in several ways; the seam may be folded to one side, and the edges fastened by a row of catch-stitches; the seam may be opened, and each edge fastened separately; or, with the seam open, a row of catch-stitches may be put in the middle.

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