All these handsewing stitches are similar but they’re not the same! Overhand stitch, overcast stitch, whip stitch and hem stitch – these four stitches are all slanting handsewing stitches. But do you know the difference?
Overhand, Overcast, Hem & Whip Stitch – What’s The Difference?
The overhand stitch is used to sew two pieces of fabric together. Besides, overhand stitches are smaller and more closely spaced than overcast stitches.
Related: 34 Types of Seams – Historical Sewing
‘Overhanding consists of very small stitches whipped over and over edges of material, not for the mere function of preventing raveling, as is the case with overcasting, but to bind the two edges firmly together.’ (School Sewing Based On Home Problems, 1916)
‘The cloth may have a folded or selvedge edge. […] The stitches are straight on the under side and slanting on the top.’ (Sewing – Handicraft For Girls, 1918)
‘Use: To make flat, strong, but almost invisible seams in underclothing and bed linen, hemming table linens and sewing on lace, and patching. It is sometimes done on the right side, when finishing the ends of hems or bands, or pillow cases.’ (Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction, 1916)
The overcast stitch is used to prevent raw edges of fabric from fraying.
‘Loose, diagonal stitch taken over the raw edges of cloth to keep them from ravelling.’ (Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction, 1916)
The whip stitch is used to gather fabric for ruffles. Whip stitches are sewed over a rolled edge of fabric.
‘Whipping is forming gathers by overcasting a rolled edge of fine material, and drawing up the thread.’ (School Needlework. A Course of Study in Sewing designed for use in Schools, 1893)
Related: 5 Ways To Attach Ruffles
The hemming stitch is used to hem a piece of fabric or to hem the raw edges of seams down to a lining.
‘The double fold of material and the slanting stitch make a strong finish.’ (A Sewing Course For Teachers, 1893)
- overhand stitch – to sew two pieces of fabric together
- overcast stitch – to keep fabric from fraying
- whip stitch – to gather fabric
- hem stitch – to hem fabric
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