Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pickstitching by machine

The pick stitch is that little tiny stitch done along the edges of garments to keep the edge flat and crisp and to keep it from rolling to the wrong side. This was traditionally done by hand but machines have been developed which resemble it, some more than others.

There are two types of machine pick stitch- one that resembles the hand stitch very closely on both sides, and one that doesn’t.

Of the former type, there are two major makes of machine, the AMF and Complett; the Complett, new, costs around $25,000 and is VERY slow. The AMF is an antique and can only be found in bankruptcy sales. The stitch looks presentable on both sides, and can be recognized by its uniformity. It is also usually a tiny bit longer than a stitch done by hand.

Columbia and Juki are two makes of machine that do a single-thread pick stitch which is much faster but has a chainstitch on the underside, making it suitable only to applications where the underside will be hidden, like along the edge of the facing or to lap certain seams. If you look very closely, the pick portion of the stitch also shows two threads instead of only one. These machines are also much cheaper- a few thousand dollars for a new one.

In this photo, the stitching on the very edge was done with a Complett machine, and the one further away was done with a Columbia machine.



Roger v.d. Velde said...

It seems to me then, considering the high cost of a decent machine, the speed and the varying qualities, that this is at least one of the things probably better done by hand.

Nicholas said...

Jeffery, do you have a post on how to pickstitch by hand? I'm been searching through the archive trying to find one. Is it just a back stitch with a large stitch and small bite using a thick thread? I apologize if this is a stupid question. I'm not a tailor, but an amateur very interested in learning.

R. Jeffery Diduch said...


It's just a backstitch, and you can use any size of thread you want.


Kathleen Fasanella said...

Hi Jeffery. I was offered a pick stitch (unknown brand, but it's old) for $800 and in trying to figure out if it was a good deal, came across a newish AMF Reece Deco 2000. No price listed and can't find one anywhere. Don't know if I should get this machine or not; seller has some other really cool things that only novelty houses had -like a pinch tuck sewing machine; it sews pin tuck sized tucks together intermittently. It was so weird that I had to get it.

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