Though most sewing is done by machine, any sewist knows that hand sewing is important to know; even the most advanced sewing projects sometimes require hand stitching. Not only that, but learning how to hand sew can be a fun and rewarding skill. We here at Seams and Scissors are glad to present some basic hand sewing techniques so that you can become a master sewist. If you’re just learning to sew, this guide will help you to grasp the fundamentals and learn skills that you can use to make fun, easy beginner sewing projects. We’ve included some adorable hand sewing projects for you to try, too. Let’s get hand sewing!
Threading the Needle
Threading the needle is the first step of hand sewing projects, but it can be tricky and even downright frustrating. Here are a few helpful tips so you can thread the needle with ease and start sewing.
- Snip the thread at an angle so it is more blunt.
- Make sure to hold the need so the eye is open towards you. If you can’t see the eye, place a contrasting color behind the needle so it is more visible.
- Moisten the tip of the thread with your mouth, making it easier to control.
- Use an eye that matches your thread size
- If you really can’t get the thread in, consider using a needle threader.
- Tie a knot on one end and leave the other end loose.
- For stronger thread, tie the two ends of thread together and you have a doubly thick thread.
Basic Hand Sewing Stitches
Basting stitches are used to temporarily hold fabric together in order to make it easier to sew. They are long and easy to remove. Basting is important because it keeps fabric from slipping and allows two pieces of fabric to be sewn as one. It is especially useful with slippery fabrics, such as silk. You can baste with either machine or hand sewing, but hand basting is easier to work with and remove.
Start from the wrong side of the fabric (that’s the side that won’t be seen). Push the needle through and secure the knot. Then, weave your needle from back to front of the fabric to create a dashed line look. Stitches should be about 1/4 inches in length with equally long spaces in between.
It is important to make sure the stitches will be able to be removed without struggle. You can test the stitches by tugging on the thread to make sure it moves easily through the fabric.
Helpful hint: Use a thread that contrasts with the permanent thread so that you don’t accidentally mix them up.
A running stitch uses the same method as the basting stitch, which is simply running the needle back and forth through the fabric to make a straight, dotted line. However, it is done with 1/6 or 1/8 inch stitches and spaces. Though typically you’ll use a machine for this type of stitching, you can use this technique to gather fabric or to quickly mend a seam.
The backstitch creates strong, durable seams and is good for use with heavy fabrics. Simply make two running stitches, then bring the needle back to the end of the first stitch and pull it through. The front will look like a machine stitch, but the back will have overlapping fabrics that are extra strong.
Slip stitches create invisible hems from the outside. They are most often used in projects such as a pillow, stuffed animal, or other projects when the hem should not be seen. Slip stitches work well on sheer, delicate fabrics.
You’ll start with a folded hem. Anchor your knot inside the fold so it is not visible. Start directly under where you anchored the thread. Pick up just a few threads of fabric. This means you shouldn’t pierce the needle all the way through the fabric to the other side; otherwise, you’ll be able to see the stitches. Get just a few threads, then bring the needle back down into the fold and come back up through the other side. What you have done is secured a strong stitch without making it visible from the outside. Repeat this until your hem is complete.
Make sure to keep stitches even and consider using a single thread to make sure the stitch is not visible.
How to Finish with a Securing Stitch
When you are finished sewing, take a tiny stitch and pass the needle through the loop before pulling it tight. This creates a knot. For an extra strong knot, do this twice. Then cut the edges off and you are finished!
Hand Sewing Projects
It’s time to put your newly learned skills to the test. Here are some easy beginner sewing projects that will help you practice your repertoire of hand stitches.