A blanket stitch is a simple way to add a handmade touch to your sewing project. Use it to finish an edge, attach an appliqué or even as a decorative stitch all on its own. This basic stitch is a must-have in your hand-sewing tool box!
The blanket stitch began as a way to finish the edges of blankets — and other things like tea towels and pillowcases. There are many ways to use a blanket stitch in your sewing, and we will talk about three of them today.
It's best to use embroidery thread or yarn for this stitch, since it is decorative and the thicker threads stand out more. Match the weight of your thread to the weight of your fabric: Use embroidery thread for linens and yarns for heavier wools and fleece. You can also use matching or contrasting thread to change the look of your stitches.
How to sew a basic blanket stitch
The most common blanket stitch is used along a raw fabric edge to give it a clean look. Collect your fabric, a needle and thread to begin. You will need a needle with a large head that will fit the size of your desired thread or yarn.
Thread the needle and make a knot in one of the tails. Leave the threads separate, pulling the shorter one through so it is significantly shorter than the long, knotted tail.
Begin on the right side of your fabric. Bring the thread up from the back, so the knot is hidden. If you are working with two layers of fabric, bring the thread up between the layers to hide the knot. Hold onto the thread as you pull so the short tail does not come un-threaded.
Take the thread around to the back of the fabric and bring it up to the front again in the same place.
Bring the needle through the stitched loop, from left to right, along the edge of the fabric. Pull the thread straight up to tighten the stitch.
From the back, take another stitch about a ¼" or so to the left.
Pull the thread almost all the way through, leaving a loop. Bring the needle through the loop from front to back before gently pulling it tight.
Continue sewing stitches to the left until your edge is finished.
To finish your row of Blanket Stitches, bring the thread to the back through the bottom of your last stitch.
To create a knot, turn the fabric over. Bring the thread through the bottom of your last stitch.
Leave a loop and bring the needle through the loop, pulling gently to tighten. Repeat to create a second knot for extra durability.
Clip the threads to finish your row of blanket stitches.
TIP: If you are having trouble keeping the stitches even, try using some low-tack or washi tape. Place the tape along the edge you are working on to keep the stitch depth the same. Better yet, find tape with dots or markings, to keep the width of your stitches even as well.
Finishing a raw edge using a blanket stitch
To properly finish a raw edge, you can use a blanket stitch in two ways.
Finish with a raw edge
Use the basic blanket stitch instructions above to finish all the raw edges of one or two layers of fabric. This is best used when the fabric you are finishing does not naturally fray. Some examples of non-fraying fabrics are fleece, wool and felt.
Finish with a folded edge
A blanket stitch combined with a folded edge creates an even more professional edge with a tidier finish. Here's how to do it.
Fold the raw edge of your fabric under ¼" to ½" depending on the scale of the item you are working on. (Note: Your blanket stitches will be as deep as the fold.) Press the edge to hold it in place.
Begin the blanket stitch by hiding the knot under the folded fabric.
Use the basic blanket stitch instructions above to finish the edge. Create stitches that are as deep as the folded edge, enclosing it with the stitches. Make sure to run the stitches along the edge of the fabric evenly for the best results.
Appliqué using a Blanket Stitch
Hand-stitching a blanket stitch along the edge of an appliqué covers the raw edge, prevents fraying and looks great.
Fuse the shape you are appliquéing to the background fabric. Use fusible web and follow the manufacturer's instructions
Begin your blanket stitch behind the background fabric to hide the knot. Stitch down through the appliqué, and back up at the raw edge.
Take another stitch to the right of the first one. Pull almost all the way through, leaving a loop, and bring the needle through the resulting loop. Pull gently to finish the stitch. Repeat around the entire appliqué.
Space your ending stitches so that they evenly fit in the remaining space. Finish by stitching a knot on the back of your work and clipping the threads.
Decorative blanket stitch
Though less common, a blanket stitch can be sewn into your project as a decorative stitch as well. There are many ways to alter the stitch to create a more creative design. Here are a few examples.
1. Vary the stitch depth to create a curved or scalloped edge.
2. Group stitches together creating a pattern.
3. Stitch interlocking rows to create a Double Blanket Stitch.
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