While we’d never want to go back to a world without sewing machines, we have to admit that some tasks are best accomplished with a good ole needle and thread. Like when you’re stitching a buttonhole, or even a hem or seam — basically anywhere you don’t want those stitches to show. And in those scenarios, there’s nothing better than the slip stitch.
The magic of this stitch style is that it can be completely invisible on both the inside and outside of the garment — it literally “slips” into the fold of the hem as you sew it. So how do you do it? You’re about to learn.
How to Hand Sew the Slip Stitch
1. Queue Up the Thread
Choose a thread that matches the color of your fabric. (The one in the photos is lighter so you can see the stitches better.) Thread the needle and tie a knot at the end. Then, insert the needle into the fold of the hem, in between the two layers of fabric. (Note: For this example, the hem is folded a ½ inch, then again another 1½ inch. Your mileage may vary.)
2. Pull It Taut
Pull the thread through, until the knot is hidden inside the fold and the thread is taut. The thread should only be visible from the top of the fold.
3. Catch the Thread
Insert the needle into the main fabric a little ways over, keeping it level with the fold of the hem and catching a tiny amount of the fabric. This dot is on the outside of the garment, so you only want to catch a few threads. Pull the needle through, until the threads are tight (but not so tight that the fabric gathers up).
4. Stitch Along the Fold
Insert the needle into the fold, just to the left of where the dot was sewn. Pass it up a small distance inside the fold, then back out. Pull the thread firm. The dot should be centered between the spot where the threads go in and out of the hem’s fold.
5. Keep Stitching!
Repeat by passing the needle through a very tiny amount of fabric again, keeping in line with the first dot you sewed.
6. Finish the Stitch
When you have all of your stitches completed, pass the needle through the fold of the hem. Each stitch should be the same distance apart, so the dots are evenly spaced on the right side of the fabric.
And now it’s time to slip away!