When sewing a garment, a tailor must know how to prevent its edges from fraying. The solution often lies in the use of the “pick stitch”, a technique designed to maintain the fabric’s crispness and prevent tattering.

The pick stitch, classified as a “structural stitch” by tailors, anchors the edges of garments, lapels, linings, or flap pockets, stopping them from curling or rolling. This delicate yet sturdy stitch is meant to catch only a few threads of the fabric. It is an essential element of a fully canvased garment, necessary for the garment to keep its structure through time.

Because it is a structural stitch, and not a decorative choice, the pick stitch rarely wants to attract attention. If the machine is perfectly adjusted, the stitch is very flat; more technical than aesthetic in fact. While the pick stitch is often almost invisible in thicker materials, like a heavy flannel, it can however become a striking visual detail in lighter, brighter fabrics.

Historically done by hand, the American Machine and Foundry (short, “AMF Reece”, or just “AMF”) developed a pick-stitch machine in 1930. This machine employs a floating needle mechanism with an eye in the middle and two points. Because of its prevalence in modern tailoring, the pick stitch is today often referred to by the machine’s brand name, “AMF”.

Does the AMF machine only mimic the hand-stitch, or does it have a value in its own right? Some people seem to prefer the irregularities of the hand stitching. Hand stitches, no matter how experienced the tailor, will always be slightly “off axis”: that means, if you were to draw a straight line, the stitches would deviate left or right. When the pick stitching is done with an AMF machine, the spacing between the stitches is usually more consistent, sharper, and cleaner, enhancing symmetry and consistency on the garment.

AMF Stitch, Jacket Lapel,cashmere, linen and cotton, 2023 (2)

AMF Stitch, Jacket Lapel. Cashmere, Linen and Cotton. 2023.

Stitching Beginner’s Guide, Minminutes, 2021

Stitching Beginner’s Guide, Minminutes. 2021.

AMF Reece, Buttonhole Machine, Early 20th Century

AMF Reece, Buttonhole Machine. Early 20th Century.

AMF Stitch, Jacket Lapel, cashmere, linen and cotton, 2023

AMF Stitch, Jacket Lapel. Cashmere, Linen and Cotton. 2023.

    « tailors also see it as the place of their uniqueness»
    « His countenance and clothes then become the way to read him.»
    « historically done by hand, with a striking visual detail in lighter, brighter fabrics »
    «Writer of memory, Patrick Modiano is also the writer of fabrics.»
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