What is a Single Stitch Shirt?

what is single stitch shirt

In the world of fashion and clothing, the quality and design of a garment are often indicated by the type of stitching used. One such technique that holds significant value especially in vintage fashion is single stitching.

Single stitch shirts, as the name suggests, are garments sewn using a single line of stitching. This method of construction was widely prevalent before the mid-1970s and is now considered a hallmark of vintage clothing.

Understanding different stitching techniques, including single stitch, is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it can help determine the quality and durability of a garment. Secondly, it can aid in identifying true vintage pieces, which is particularly useful for collectors and enthusiasts. Lastly, knowledge about stitching can guide proper garment care, ensuring your clothes maintain their integrity and longevity.

In the upcoming sections, we will delve deeper into what a single stitch shirt is, its characteristics, and why it holds a special place in the realm of fashion.

Understanding Single Stitch

single stitch shirt
single stitch shirt

What is a Single Stitch?

Single stitch, as the name suggests, refers to a type of sewing technique where a single line of stitching is used. In other words, it’s when a garment is sewn together with one line of thread running along the edge of the fabric. This method creates a clean, simple look and is often considered a marker of high-quality craftsmanship.

In contrast, double stitching involves two parallel lines of stitches and is generally perceived as more durable but also more noticeable due to the double lines of thread.

Historical Context and Evolution of Single Stitch in Clothing

The use of single stitching in clothing construction has a rich historical context. Prior to the mid-1970s, most casual shirts, including T-shirts, were made using a single stitch technique. This was primarily due to the simplicity of the method and the fact that it required less thread, making it more cost-effective.

However, as mass production of clothing increased and manufacturers sought ways to make garments more durable and long-lasting, double stitching started to become the norm. The double stitch provided extra strength to seams and edges, reducing the likelihood of tears and rips.

Despite this shift, single stitch shirts have not been forgotten. In fact, they’ve gained a sort of cult status among vintage clothing collectors and enthusiasts. The presence of a single stitch is often taken as an indication that the piece is genuinely vintage, dating back to the pre-1970s era.

Moreover, some modern designers and brands are now revisiting the single stitch technique, appreciating it for its minimalist aesthetic and the sense of nostalgia it evokes. So, while single stitch shirts may be less common in today’s fast fashion landscape, they continue to hold a special place in the world of fashion.

The Process of Single Stitching

How Single Stitching is Done

The process of single stitching is relatively simple, which is one of the reasons it was widely used in the past. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Prepare the Fabric: First, the fabric pieces that need to be stitched together are prepared. This involves cutting them to the right size and shape according to the pattern of the garment.
  2. Thread the Needle: The next step is to thread the needle. In the case of machine stitching, the sewing machine is threaded according to its specific instructions.
  3. Start Stitching: The two fabric pieces are then placed together with their right sides facing each other. The needle (or sewing machine) is used to create a single line of stitches along the edge of the fabric pieces, thereby joining them together.
  4. Secure the Stitch: At the end of the line of stitching, the stitch is secured to prevent it from unravelling. This is typically done by making a few backstitches.
  5. Finish the Seam: Finally, the seam is pressed with an iron to make it flat and neat.

Equipment Used for Single Stitch

The equipment used for single stitching can be as simple as a needle and thread for hand stitching. However, most single stitch shirts are sewn using a sewing machine, which allows for more consistent and secure stitches.

In terms of the type of sewing machine, a straight stitch machine is typically used. This type of machine creates a simple straight stitch, which is perfect for the single stitch technique.

Skills Required to Accomplish Single Stitch

While the process of single stitching is straightforward, it does require some skills and knowledge. Understanding how to prepare the fabric and follow a pattern is essential.

Moreover, whether you’re hand stitching or using a machine, you need to know how to thread the needle and create consistent, evenly spaced stitches. This requires patience and practice, as well as good hand-eye coordination.

Finally, you need to understand how to finish the seam properly to ensure the stitch doesn’t unravel and the seam lies flat. This involves knowing how to secure the stitch at the end and how to press the seam correctly.

All these skills can be learned through practice and with the help of sewing tutorials and guides. And once mastered, they can open up a world of possibilities in terms of creating high-quality, durable garments.

Features of Single Stitch Shirts

Characteristics that Distinguish Single Stitch Shirts from Others

Single stitch shirts have a few distinguishing characteristics that set them apart from other types of garments.

  1. Single Line of Stitching: The most obvious feature is the single line of stitching along the seams and hems. This is in contrast to most modern shirts, which typically have two parallel lines of stitches (double stitch).
  2. Vintage Appeal: Due to their historical context, single stitch shirts often have a vintage appeal. They are associated with an era of craftsmanship when each garment was carefully constructed, which gives them a unique charm.
  3. Simplistic Design: Single stitch shirts usually have a more simplistic design compared to double stitch shirts. The clean, single line of stitching gives them a minimalist aesthetic.

Quality and Durability of Single Stitch Shirts

While single stitch shirts may not be as durable as their double-stitched counterparts, they are still considered high-quality garments. The single line of stitching is usually done very carefully and meticulously, which contributes to the overall quality of the shirt.

However, it’s important to note that the durability of a single stitch shirt also depends on other factors, such as the type of fabric used and how the shirt is cared for. With proper care, a single stitch shirt can last for many years.

Comfort and Fit of Single Stitch Shirts

In terms of comfort and fit, single stitch shirts are known for their softness and flexibility. The single line of stitching allows the fabric to move and stretch more freely, which can make the shirt more comfortable to wear.

The fit of a single stitch shirt can vary depending on the specific design and cut of the garment. However, many vintage single stitch shirts are known for their relaxed, loose fit, which adds to their comfort and appeal.

The Significance of Single Stitch in Vintage Clothing

The single stitch technique holds a significant place in the realm of vintage clothing. It acts as an important identifier for vintage enthusiasts and collectors, helping them distinguish genuine vintage pieces from modern reproductions.

Role of Single Stitch in Identifying Vintage Clothing

Single stitch construction is often seen as a quick way to scan an item to determine if it’s vintage or not. This is because single stitched garments, particularly T-shirts, were predominantly produced before 1994. Hence, the presence of a single stitch, especially on the seams of the shoulder, lower hem, and cuff, is a strong indicator that the item is genuinely vintage.

The shift from single stitch to double stitch occurred around the mid-1970s to early 1980s. Therefore, finding a shirt that is single stitched all over usually suggests that it dates back to this era or earlier.

Popularity of Single Stitch Shirts in the Vintage Fashion Industry

Single stitch shirts have gained immense popularity in the vintage fashion industry. Their distinctive construction and the nostalgia associated with them make these garments highly sought after by vintage lovers.

Moreover, the single stitch mimics the backstitch, which is considered one of the most durable stitches. This fact, along with the careful craftsmanship typically seen in vintage items, contributes to the appeal of single stitch shirts.

The vintage fashion industry has seen a surge in demand for single stitch shirts, not just for their historical significance but also for their unique aesthetic. The clean, minimalist look of a single stitch adds to the charm of these shirts, making them a popular choice among vintage clothing enthusiasts.

How to Care for Single Stitch Shirts

Caring for single stitch shirts, particularly vintage ones, requires a bit more attention compared to modern garments. Here are some tips and recommendations for maintaining your single stitch shirts:

  1. Gentle Washing: Always wash your single stitch shirts gently to avoid damaging the fabric or the stitches. This could mean hand washing or using the delicate cycle on your washing machine.
  2. Avoid High Heat: High heat can damage clothing, so it’s best to wash your shirts in cold water. Similarly, when drying, avoid high heat settings and consider air-drying your shirts instead.
  3. Inside-Out: To protect the print and prevent fading, always turn your shirt inside-out before washing[^1^]. This is particularly important for single stitch shirts with prints or designs.
  4. Avoid Sunlight: Sunlight can cause colors to fade. Therefore, when drying your single stitch shirts, try to do so in a shaded area. Also, when storing your shirts, keep them out of direct sunlight.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Washing and Storing Single Stitch Shirts

  1. Overwashing: Overwashing can lead to fading and wear and tear. Try to wash your single stitch shirts only when necessary.
  2. Using Bleach or Harsh Detergents: Bleach and harsh detergents can damage the fabric and cause colors to fade. It’s better to use a mild detergent and avoid bleach entirely.
  3. Ironing Directly: If you need to iron your single stitch shirts, avoid ironing directly on the print or design. Instead, turn the shirt inside-out or place a thin cloth between the iron and the shirt.
  4. Folding and Storing Improperly: Folding and storing your shirts properly can help maintain their shape and longevity. Avoid cramming them into a drawer or hanger. Instead, fold them neatly and store them in a cool, dry place.


Throughout this article, we’ve explored the unique characteristics, quality, comfort, and care of single stitch shirts. These garments, often associated with vintage clothing, offer a distinct appeal due to their historical context and simplistic design.

Key points discussed include:

  1. Characteristics: Single stitch shirts are distinguished by their single line of stitching along the seams and hems, a vintage appeal, and a simplistic design.
  2. Quality and Durability: Despite not being as robust as double-stitched counterparts, single stitch shirts are still considered high-quality garments. Their durability depends on factors like fabric type and care.
  3. Comfort and Fit: Known for their softness and flexibility, single stitch shirts offer great comfort. Many vintage single stitch shirts feature a relaxed, loose fit.
  4. Significance in Vintage Clothing: Single stitch plays a crucial role in identifying vintage clothing. It’s also highly popular in the vintage fashion industry due to its distinctive construction and nostalgic association.
  5. Care Recommendations: Caring for single stitch shirts involves gentle washing, avoiding high heat, turning the shirt inside-out before washing, and keeping them out of direct sunlight. Common mistakes to avoid include overwashing, using harsh detergents or bleach, ironing directly, and improper folding and storing.

In conclusion, the value and appeal of single stitch shirts lie in their unique aesthetic, historical significance, and the careful craftsmanship that goes into their creation. With proper care, these garments can maintain their quality and charm for many years, making them a worthwhile addition to any wardrobe.

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