Believing in the Strength of Thread

It’s just a little thing, a thread. So easily breakable a child could break it with his or her bare hands. If anything is hanging by it metaphorically, it’s by the slimmest of margins before it’s gone. Yet, it is so strong.

Look through your clothes. How many have seams held together by just one thread? I have shirts and dress pants that are sewn at the seam with just one thread. Yet, they have lasted years for me. Over a couple of decades for some as I have trouble finding clothes my size and stick with what I have until it becomes unacceptable for its purpose, or I make a replacement as I have been learning to sew for the past 3 years.

So why then do I have so much trouble believing in the strength of thread for its ability to do what it needs to do when I am sewing? Why do I serge all my seams and double sew down anything that one thread should be able to hold like pockets, cuff edges, double layered collars before turning it inside out? It’s not like I’m running around in the Matrix where I expect to be doing a lot of kung fu fighting during the course of my day. I do run and play sports, but it’s not those garments I’m talking about for my lack of faith in the strength of threads. I will gladly serge seams on those garments just so I never, ever, have to worry about wardrobe malfunction wearing them.

Where the seam is not visible, double sew down isn’t a problem. Nobody sees any of its imperfection. However, where the seam is visible, like finishing on pockets, cuffs, plackets, or sewing down some serged seams so they lay flat, I find it very hard to sew the exact same seam over the first one so close examination will reveal a slightly messy finishing seam. From slightly farther away, it seems I used heavy duty thread that would be excessive for something like a dress shirt. Certainly, if the colours of the thread and fabric were a perfect match, that seam becomes all the more visible and a little less nice. If I wanted it to be visible, like a decorative highlight, then I should just use a different colour thread.

It’s a trade-off between something looking not so great up close, but should be more durable, against something looking nicer but maybe less durable. The thing is “less durable” should still be pretty durable from what I’ve seen through a life of wearing a lot of one thread seam clothes. Yet, I can’t convince myself of it when making my own clothes, for some reason. I tell myself I should believe in the strength of thread, give it more credit, but then that little voice in my head overrides it to say, don’t be sorry should it fall apart on you soon and just sew the seam twice. It comforts me with the additional assurance that with the bold style of clothes I make, nobody is going to examine the stitching unless they’re wanting to talk techniques with me, and those people are in the vast majority even with a group of sewing friends I have as a sewist. But sew what? Let them criticize. They’re not going to be there to mend it for you when the single thread seam breaks!

That voice is doing a pretty good job so far. I’m listening to it despite having urges to shut it up. I’ll finish my first half of a uniform dress shirts collection soon. I’m hoping with writing this out for therapy, for the second batch, I won’t do the double sew down seams where the seams are visible… and things will look even nicer. I did save the nicer designs for the second batch, testing things out, finding my groove and eliminating any rust I have from not having sewn a top for some months.

We’ll see if it works.

Please click here to see other fashion posts I have written, including garments made.

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