What is an Interlock Stitch?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

As a popular option for stitching that is used both for hand applications as well as with many of the better sewing machines, the interlock stitch is one of the more secure types of stitches that is used today. Ideal for stitching on clothing and items that are designed to see a lot of wear and tear, this stitch is sometimes conceived as being somewhat complicated.

Towels and washcloths may be hemmed using interlock stitching.
Towels and washcloths may be hemmed using interlock stitching.

In reality, the interlock method is a very straightforward type of interconnecting stitch that is perfect for use with cut-and-sew knit fabric projects. Here is a step by step process for achieving this stitch on knit fabric.

Basically, the interlock stitch employs many of the same steps as used in creating a buttonhole stitch. The difference is that interlock stitches double back on themselves at each row of the stitch pattern. To begin the loop back, begin by anchoring the thread on the underside of the garment.

From that point, run the thread up to the first cross thread used in the buttonhole stitch, taking care to run under, or interlock with the cross thread. Move on to the next square in the design, repeating the process until you have completed the length that you wish to work with. All this lays out the basis for beginning the second phase of the interlocking process.

Next, you will want to begin the process of returning to your starting point. However, where you will want to pass underneath the threads that make up the stitching already done. Repeat that process as you advance from square to square. What will appear is a pattern that resembles the outline of a star within the range of stitches.

Creating an interlock stitch is common on a number of textile products. Some towels and washcloths are hemmed using this stitch. Many manufacturers of sports shirts and jerseys will use commercial sewing machines that are set to use this type of stitch for a more durable seal on all the individual sections of the clothing. While in most cases the interlock stitch is on the inside of the garment and not meant to be seen, most manufacturers will use white thread or thread that is the same color as the fabric.

However, an interlock stitch can also be used as a decorative element on shirts, blouses, and even on casual shorts and jeans. To create a decorative border on a garment, the interlock method can incorporate the use of a contrasting color of thread, so it will stand out from the material. For persons choosing to sew by hand, it is possible to use two or more colors of thread, overlaying more than one round of interlock stitch to create the desired effect.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


I don't think I've intentionally ever used the interlock stitch, although I can certainly see its usefulness. I'd like someone to show me step by step, how it can be done by hand, since my very basic sewing machine will only do straight and zig-zag stitches. I've done hand variations on the overlock stitch, but have never tried the interlock.

Ideally, I'd like to have a sewing machine that would do an interlock stitch, but I don't have the kind of cash that kind of machine would require for purchase. Perhaps, one of these days, I’ll be able to afford one.

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