Pick Stitch – How to do it & where to use it beautifully

Pick Stitch is a widely spaced small back stitchWhen done repeatedly it looks like a stitching line of small running stitches with a wider gap in between than normal. It is used as a basting stitch  so it needs to penetrate all layers of fabrics. The stitches are all even and the repetitive stitches look uniform on the top resembling a dotted line . In the back of the fabric there is a continuous line of backstitches.

pick stitch

Hand or machine pick stitch ? – It is possible to do a stitching line which resembles a hand stitched pick stitching line on some  sewing machines . But the hand made pick stitch is unique and the custom look of a hand made pick stitch is highly valued in fashion tailoring

Uses of pick stitch in Dressmaking

pick stitch

The stitch is used in a number of ways in sewing – but the most prevalent use is in men’s tailored clothing .

In suits, it is used on lapels  ( collar of the jacket) to prevent the edge from rolling during wear. All the leading tailors making high end tailored suits will say that hand made pick stitching is the hallmark of quality in their suits.

Other than the lapels the hand made pick stitch is also found around the pocket flaps, and sometimes the breast pocket detail.

Pick stitches are also found on fine quality shirts &  jeans as an embellishment. You can use pick stitches for embellishing your clothes and accessories, especially when done with embroidery floss in  contrasting colors. when used as a strengthening stitch it is mostly done in the same colour as the background fabric.

pick stitching

It is also used for making hems in garments. You can use pick stitching for attaching facings by hand, for inserting zips in clothes.

On Quilts pick stitching refers to the basting stitches used to sandwich the quilt layers – basically long running stitches . Checkout the post on basting stitch for more details

Steps to do a Pick stitch

Most important things to take care of when making pick stitches are that stitch length and alignment with each adjacent stitch are even and uniform . It is not possible to get this 100% right  when you are hand sewing ( after all you are human not a machine) but you can always try. One benchmark to aim for is that the pick stitch you make is barely visible from the outside. You will have to Practise a lot before you achieve this feat.

pick stitch

Wear a thimble, especially if you are making lots of this stitch and you have the habit of holding your finger under the stitches. After it is called the prick stitch – oops pick stitch.

Step 1

Draw the stitching line. This is important – you have to do it accurately. No winging it. Mark the line or use masking tape to get the stitching line correct. You can also use the edge of your garment as a guideline if you have already finished it.

Step 2

This stitch is made from the bottom to the top or away from you like back stitch. Come up from the back with the knot on the underside of the fabric – at A.

Step 3

Insert the needle at B two threads below where you came up at A

Step 4

Come back up at C some 1/4 inch from where the first stitch started

Continue doing small back stitches like this and you will have a running stitch like pattern with small stitches showing on the top in regular intervals


Checkout this video for more details on how to do this stitch.

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