Like The Physics of Sewing, understanding how our Button Craft thread (the strongest thread we have found in the world) works with our cotton-jersey fabric is also important physics when embarking on any of our DIY Projects.

Included in Chapter 3 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, I think you will also find my Grandfather’s story an important one for life and design:

Family of Stitches

When looking at cotton-jersey fabric under a microscope, you’ll see that a very fine yarn is used to knit rows of stitches that become the basic fabric. However, due to the looping technique involved in producing the knitted fabric, you’ll also see that the yarn itself and the negative space around it occupy equal amounts of space. Understanding the “physics” of the fabric at the structural level is key to our work at Alabama Chanin.

We use Button Craft thread, the strongest thread we’ve been able to find, since we want to create garments and other products that will stand the test of time. However, when using a doubled strand of this strong thread to sew together a fabric made of very fine yarn, it’s important to understand the physics of their relationship.

I like to use a tale about my Grandfather Perkins to define this concept: As children, my cousins and I spent many summer evenings at my grandfather’s house in the country. One by one, as Perk decided each of us was ready, he would induct us into the family with a special ritual. With the rest of us gathered on the screened-in side porch, he would bring the “inductee” out into the yard and ask him or her to pick up as many sticks as possible and carry them to the front porch.

Then Perk would ask the child to take one stick with both hands and break it. When the child easily snapped the twig in two, Perk would say, “That stick is you—breakable.”

Then he would tell the child, “Hold as many sticks as you can in your two hands.” Once the child had a handful of sticks, Perk would say, “Now break those.” Of course, that couldn’t be done because of the tensile strength of the bundle. “This,” he would say, “is you with your family—unbreakable.”

At Alabama Chanin, we similarly incorporate a family of stitches to support the weight of our heavier thread. This is the reason for larger stitches—1⁄8″ to ¼” in length–and also the reason for our double knots. When sewing, always keep in mind that your “family” is there to support the weight of your threads and knots.

2 comments on “FAMILY + STITCHES

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  1. Jonn

    What a wonderful lesson and example you experienced; simple but powerful. Thank you for your spirit of generosity in sharing with us so that we may share with our sticks!