Reinforcement stitches

There are many times you will want to add webbing, handles, straps etc to your projects that form an area of concentrated stress. Typically you will want to reinforce these areas to ensure the longevity of your project.

Button hole stitches are useful for adding reinforced holes for draw cords and drainage holes in pockets as an alternative to hammering in an eyelet. Some sewing machines can do automatic buttonholes, others you’ll want to use the zig zag setting at different widths to make the stitch pattern below. Lots of guides online show how to do buttonhole stitches but this figure shows a general way.

Bar tacking. Lots of stitches closely spaced to reinforce an area. Very common on outdoor gear, especially on webbing ladders (e.g. PALS) for attaching gear, and also some clothing items such as jeans pockets. These usually follow a specific pattern programmed into a dedicated bar tacking sewing machine, but can be imitated in three ways: a closely spaced wide zig zag stitch going back and forth a few times, two straight stitches followed by a zig-zag over the top, or sewing at least three overlapping rows of straight stitches. Try to avoid bartacking on lightweight fabrics like 70D ripstop, as the increased stitch density can actually encourage tearing. Reinforce the area with extra layers of fabric first before bar tacking, or design around not needing a bar tack, such as putting webbing into seams instead of mid-panel.

Box X Stitch. Another reinforcement stitch pattern. Good for areas where stresses are multi-directional, like bag handles, and weaker fabrics that cannot take as many needle holes. More time consuming to make than a bar tack, and requires multiple rotations of your fabric panel. Hammock and climbing forums are a great rabbit hole to explore if you want to know in depth about the relative strengths of bar tack vs box X stitch (and other patterns like W stitch). Either will work great for these sewing guides though.

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