This section is from the book "Scientific Sewing And Garment Cutting", by Antoinette Van Hoesen Wakeman. Also available from Amazon: Scientific Sewing And Garment Cutting: For Use In Schools And In The Home.
The first stitch of this system of sewing is the basting stitch. It is begun eight threads from the top and ten threads from the right-hand edge of the model. In putting in this stitch, two threads are taken up and four threads left under the needle at each stitch. There are three lines of this basting across the width of the model, with two threads of the canvas between the lines. Each stitch should be taken with exact precision, and the thread drawn in such a way that the model when finished will lie perfectly smooth. If a mistake is made, in every instance the work must be at once ripped and done anew.
In the very beginning, when the first stitches are taken, the pupils should be taught that the work must be held up towards the eyes, and not the eyes brought down to the work. Insistence upon this and upon sitting erect will insure a correct, hygienic position, which is of the utmost importance. The teacher should explain why these requirements are made.
What is the first thing to be done when one is going to sew? Ans. To wash the hands very clean and wipe them dry.
Why should this be done? Ans. If the hands are not perfectly clean, the needle will become rough and the work soiled.
How should one sit while sewing? Ans. With the feet flat on the floor, and the lower part of the body as far back as possible in the chair.
Why is this the proper position? Ans. It is easy to sew when sitting in this way, and one does not get tired.
Why is the thimble worn on the second finger? Ans. It is the central and the strongest finger, and can push the needle better than any one of the others.
How long should the thread be? Ans. Just as long as the arm.
Should there be a knot in the thread? Ans. No; take a double stitch at the beginning and the thread will not draw out.
What is the first stitch? Ans. The basting stitch.
How is it taken? Ans. Just twice as much is left as is taken on the needle at each stitch.
How should the thread be drawn? Ans. So that it is as tight as, but no tighter than, the threads of the canvas.
Is it necessary that basting be even and the same distance at all points from the edge of the cloth? Ans. Yes; because it is the guide by which a seam is sewed.
How should the thread be drawn in sewing? Ans. Always between the second and third fingers.