Chain Hemming vs Lockstitch

By Maurice Malone  Published Sept. 28, 2020
Often, most people do not learn there is a big difference between chain stitch hemming and lockstitch, or regular straight stitching until it’s too late. Many will find their way to the local dry cleaners or tailors, only to find the sewing is not up to the quality of the jeans.
This pair of Left Field jeans were sent to us to recreate the original factory sewing. Below, the leg with the lockstitched hem is pictured at the rear, as we compare chain hemming vs lockstitch. Most often, tailors whose business is not denim focused will not stock the correct thread sizes. Home sewing machines are not made to handle industrial threads, needle sizes, and they do not have the power to push through the seams of heavy denim. If the top side stitching on the jeans looks thinner than the original, thread size is the reason why.
chain hemming vs lockstitch compared side-by-side
If you look on the inside of your jeans and find the thick robe-like stitch is no longer there. It is because the jeans were originally constructed with chain stitching. The factory construction has been replaced by a regular lockstitch.
Nowadays, chain stitch construction appears on most of the best quality jeans. However, it is not the rule. Some brands trying to mimic the look of trousers or vintage jeans produced during an era before the chain was widely accepted as the best construction, may choose lockstitching for authenticity purposes.
Left Field jeans showing lockstitch vs recreated factory style chain stitch sewing at the hem.
In manufacturing, the chain stitch is superior in strength, plus it can be undone quicking in the case of sewing errors. For brands, it provides more details and more attractive aging effects at the hem.