How to Handsew: The Slip Stitch

No fancy tool or machine can take the place of a hand-sewn stitch and somewhere along your sewing career, you will encounter moments when you will need to use these skills. Couture sewing is entirely done by hand, and now you can learn some of the tricks of their trade. In this series of posts, I will guide you through the main hand sewing stitches that you might encounter while sewing garments.

In today’s entry, I will teach you the slip stitch. This stitch can be used in a multitude of places, but the most common location for the slip stitch is on the inside of a garment’s hem. Unlike the hemming stitch, this stitch can be sewn to be completely invisible on both the inside and the outside of the garment, as the stitch “slips” into the fold of the hem during the stitching process, making it perfect for finer garments.

Try using this hemming technique on your next project or class, like on Susan Khalje’s Bluprint class, The Couture Dress!

Follow along to learn how to sew a slip stitch!

handsew the slipstitch step 1

Step 1:

Choose a thread that matches your garment’s fabric and a needle appropriate of an appropriate size and type for the fabric’s weight and fiber content. Thread the needle and tie a knot at the end of the thread. Insert the needle’s point into the fold of the hem between the two layers so the point comes up through the upper fold. For this example, I folded the hem .1/2″ and then again another 1 1/2″. For your project, fold the hem according to the designer’s instructions.

handsew the slipstitch step 2

Step 2:

Pull the thread through so the knot is just under the fold and the thread is taut. The thread should only be visible from the top of the fold.

handsew the slipstitch step 3

Step 3:

Insert the needle into the main fabric, level with the fold of the hem, catching only a very tiny amount of the fabric. This dot will be visible on the right side of the fabric, so keep this very tiny, catching only a few threads of the garment.

handsew the slipstitch step 4

Step 4:

Pull the needle through and pull the threads so they are tight, but not so tight that the fabric gathers up.

handsew the slipstitch step 5

Step 5:

Insert the needle into the fold, just to the left of where the dot was sewn, then pass the needle back up a small distance further down the fold. Pull the needle through the fabric and pull the threads firm. The dot should be centered between the spot where the threads go in and out of the hem’s fold.

handsew the slipstitch step 6

Step 6:

Repeat by passing the needle through a very tiny amount of the garment, keeping in line with the first dot sewn so they are parallel around the hem. Finish the stitch by again passing the needle through the upper fold of the hem. Each stitch should be the same distance from each other so the dots are evenly spaced on the right side of the fabric.

handsew the slipstitch final product

And that’s it! Click on my writer profile to see the other entries in this series of hand stitches to further expand your skills!

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