Tacking And Basting

Tacking is a stitch made by passing the needle and cotton in and out of the material in a horizontal direction, taking up a small piece of material, and passing over a much larger piece, forming a longer stitch on the right side.

It is used for fixing the seams of garments together so that they may be easily and correctly stitched; if extra firmness is necessary, an occasional backstitch can be made.

For tacking seams of bodices together for trying on, the stitches should be made smaller, taking up the same amount of material as has been passed over.

Cotton of a contrasting colour is best for tacking, as it is easily distinguished, and the tacked line can be followed in the stitching, ensuring a straight line to the seam.

Basting is also used for holding two materials together, but this stitch is more suitable for fixing in linings, etc., or where large spaces have to be covered with the stitch.

Both tacking and basting must always be done with the materials lying flat on the table, or on a board, not over the hand, or the upper side will be puckered.

Tailor Tacking

This is the tailor's method of tracing the line of the seams, or any other part of the garment (which has already been outlined in tailor's chalk on the first half), through to the second half. If carefully done, the two halves will be found to match exactly.

To tailor tack a seam, place the two halves of the garment flat on the table - exactly one over the other - the one which has been marked with chalk for the seams uppermost.

Thread a needle with a long, double length of tacking cotton, but do not make a knot at the end. Tack exactly on the chalk line right through the two materials (thus sewing them together), take up only a small amount of material on the needle, leave a long, loose stitch; repeat these alternate small and long, loose stitches all along the chalked line.

When this has been done, draw the two pieces of material slightly apart, and cut the stitches between them, but without drawing any of the threads out of either of the two pieces of the material.

The scissors to cut these stitches must be sharp; short scissors are more convenient than long ones, and there is less risk of snipping the material with them

Stitching and Machine Stitching

These are used for joining seams, ornamental work, etc.


Felling is a stitch used by tailors in place of hemming (as it does not show so much, and is less likely to pucker), for putting linings into coats, sewing on collars, facing revers, etc. The work is held in exactly the opposite direction to that in which it is in hemming, and the stitch is shorter and straighter. Fine silk should be used for felling.


This stitch is used for sewing over the raw edges of buttonholes, etc. (before working them), when the material is one likely to fray, such as serge.


In tailoring, padding is a stitch used in collars and revers of coats to make them roll.

It is done with rather fine silk to match the cloth.

Instructions for working this stitch will be given in a lesson on the making of a coat-collar and revers.

Buttonhole Stitch

Tailor's buttonholes are worked in exactly the opposite direction to a dress-maker's - i.e. from right to left, instead of from left to right. The method of preparing and working tailor's buttonholes will be given in a future lesson.

Stoating And Rantering

These stitches are used for invisible joins in cloth.

Stoating is done by placing the two pieces of material to be joined flat on a board or table, with the wrong side uppermost - the edges having been cut perfectly even that they may exactly meet. Use a length of fine silk to match the cloth, and a fine needle; draw the two raw edges together by working over and over through half the thickness of the cloth; this should form a row of straight stitches across the join, on the wrong side (which is uppermost), and no stitches should show on the under or right side. The stitches should be made rather close together.

N.B. It is a good plan to make chalk marks across the two raw edges, to ensure their being kept evenly together whilst working, so that neither side is puckered.


The two edges of the cloth which are to be joined should be put together, the right side of each piece facing, and level, as for a seam. Neatly backstitch them together by hand, as close to the edges as possible. This stitching should never be done by machine, as the line of stitches would be too straight and the join more visible.

The work must now be turned right over, so that the wrong side of each piece will be facing the other.

Roll the edge firmly with the thumb and first finger of the left hand, to get the stitches as near the surface as possible, and, whilst holding it firmly in this position, pass a fine needle (threaded with fine silk to match the cloth) in a slanting direction, just under the surface of the cloth, from one rolled edge to the other; bring the needle out on the right side, and in working the next stitch put it back again in the same place at which it was brought out, as no stitch must appear on the right side.

Rantering is worked from right to left; it should form a darn of slanting, invisible stitches, joining the two rolled edges together.

The seam must be constantly rolled whilst working, to get the stitches as near as possible to the surface. When the work is finished open out the seam, and slightly fray the surface of the cloth on the right side with the point of the needle across the join; damp and press the work well on the wrong side.

A join properly rantered is all but invisible.

Fine Drawing This stitch is used for the invisible repairing of rents and accidental cuts in cloth. If the rent is a long one, it is a good plan to tack it right side uppermost (the raw edges close together) on to a piece of stiff, smooth paper or American cloth, and to make chalk lines across the two edges of the rent, or cut, as a guide to keep them level while the work is being done.

The first practical lesson in tailoring will be given in Part 2 of Every Woman's Encyclop∆dia