I first discovered Sailor stitch listed as a border stitch in Jan Eaton’s The Complete Stitch Encyclopedia listed as a border stitch but have discovered it is extremely versatile. Sailor stitch can be used as an edging stitch that can be worked along the hem or edge of an item. Since it s a buttonhole stitch with a chained base it forms a hard wearing ridge which makes it far more useful as a way to finnish and edge of something like a fabric postcard for instance, than regular buttonhole. It can also be used as an edge for appliqué work producing a ridged line around the shape.
Sailor stitch can to be working multiple rows to fill a shape or can be worked back-to-back. Most of the varieties of buttonhole will lend themselves to Sailors stitch too. A variation in threads will change the look of a stitch. Also this stitch can be used on plain or evenweave fabric. So although it is not very well known it is very versatile.
How to work Sailors Stitch
Sailor stitch is buttonhole with a chained base. To work this stitch you need to know buttonhole stitch and chain stitch
Work is stitch vertically from top to bottom
Have your needle emerge at the top-of-the-line and move it down the line and take a small bite of the fabric as illustrated.
With your needle pointing left keep the thread under the needle tip pull the needle through so you have a small buttonhole stitch.
Insert your needle at the base of the buttonholes stitch with the needle tip emerging further down the line. Wrap your thread under the needle as you would a chain stitch and pull the needle through
To secure the the chain stitch tie it off with small buttonhole stitch by taking a small bite of the fabric as illustrated.
Continue down the line. I think of the rhythm as being buttonhole, chain button hole chain and so on.
As you can see it is quite easy to work and as a result it is a quick edging stitch.
Sailors stitch is similar to Sailors edge stitch. The two stitches illustrate, how if you change a little thing while working a stitch it can totally change the look and usage of a stitch.
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