I don’t know about you, when I started sewing, hand stitching frightened me. In fact, until recently I avoided it at all costs. In the beginning I sewed primarily for my children and didn’t need to hand sew anything except a turning hole. Shhh don’t tell anyone, but I used to put the sides together and topstitch over it rather than hand sewing it! For shame.
When I started sewing for myself I wanted my handmade clothing to look polished. I didn’t want anyone to look at my piece and thing “oh yeah she made that herself.” That motivated me to learn how to hand stitch.
If you’ve been living in fear of hand stitching wait no longer! I’m about the show you three easy hand stitches that even a beginner can do.
Getting Started: Thread your needle and put a double knot at the end of your thread.
- Use a finer needle for silky fabrics and a thicker needle for heavy fabrics.
- Use a short needle for individual stitches and a longer needle if you intend to do several stitches at a time.
- Always hide your knots and thread ends between layers of fabric such as behind a seam allowance or hem allowance.
- Use a thimble.
1. The Blind stitch: Used to close linings, finish collars & join any two pieces of fabric invisibly.
Photos via Alida Makes
To make a blind stitch press seam allowances down. Bring the thread up behind the seam allowance of the first piece of fabric. Push the needle through the other piece of fabric directly below the seam allowance. Repeat, making sure you pull each stitch tight. At the end of the seam, when thread is pulled tight, it should disappear.
2. The Blind Hem: Used to hem a garment without visible stitches.
You can use a sewing machine to make a blind hem, but I find the hand sewn ones look better and are less noticeable. For the purposes of showing the technique, I’ve used yellow thread, but you should make sure your thread matches your fabric for an actual project. To hide the knot tails pull the thread up through the top fold of the hem. Bring the needle over 1/4″ and catch a little bit of the front fabric in the needle, then bring the needle back through the top fold of the hem. Repeat, making sure you pull each stitch tight.
3. The Whipstitch: Used to tack down a folded over piece of fabric to another piece of fabric.
This is what I often use to attach the inside bodice lining to the skirt of a dress
For a whipstitch, bring the thread up between the layers of fabric you are sewing together along the edge of the outer fabric. Using a small stitch, bring the needle through the opposite folded edge diagonally. Repeat, making sure you pull each stitch tight.
Above is an example of a whipstitch on the inside of a bodice. Doesn’t it look nice? The best part is none of these stitches show on the outside!
Finishing your seam:
When you are finished with your seem make a tiny stitch right over your last stitch, creating a loop. Bring the needle through the loop and pull the thread tight. Slide the needle between the layers of fabric and pull out through the surface of the fabric. Then snip closely. This will hide your end knot.
Learn even more essential sewing techniques by joining the Craftsy class 40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know. You’ll learn the fundamental skills you need to sew and stitch with confidence!