What is a suture?
A suture refers to an area of fusion of two adjacent structures; typically, we understand the surgical context whereby a suture is the stitching applied to sew together a wound.
In biology suture refers to the junction between the irregular interlocking edges (like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle) of hard elements such as scull bones, plates or hardened exoskeleton cuticle.
Sutures in biology
Sutures in textiles
If a fibre is the basic building block of textile then a stitch in its broadest context is the basic structural element. A stitch has several meanings: a single interlacing loop (knitting), the interlacing of the needle thread with the bobbin thread (machine sewing and embroidery). In embroidery, stitches are used for decorative purposes while sewing specifically refers to the use of stitch to join two or more textile components together.
There are other ways to join textiles, such as melting one material into another, i.e. ultrasonic sewing and thermal bonding. However, these are non-reversible bonds at molecular level. Whereas the join or bond created between two or more fabrics via stitching is reversible meaning that it is possible to unpick the stich.
However, this is not something that we consider a positive in the textile and apparel industry. In fact, much effort from a quality perspective is placed on the strength and durability of seam lines or textiles composed of stitches.
The idea of reversible and modular joining of textile pieces can be achieved using specially design physical joins like a jigsaw. There are many examples of different geometric shapes that can be cut from paper, felt etc and joined together to form flexible, modular textile structures.
Consider the human skull…
Sutures found in cranial sculls are fibrous joints or synarthroses which are composed primarily of collagen tissue. This type of join permits a tiny amount of movement which enables some elasticity of the skull, which is known for being a very stiff structure.
When we look at the skull of a foetus in the womb the sutures are wide, and this allows slight movement during birth. The term "fontanelle" is used to describe the resulting "soft spots" typical in skulls of infants while the sutures begin to close.
This flexibility created by the sutures or joins in the skull are important as children grow rapidly. The circumference of the head increases by 17% during the first 3 months of life, and by 25% at 6 months of age. By age 5, the skull has grown to over 90% of the adult size. The sutures in the skull, allow for flexibility until they close in adulthood (approximately at 20 years old).