Learning the basics of dressmaking can be very exciting and know the different types of sewing stitches is just as important as sewing with a sewing machine. I will be showing you basic hand sewing stitches that will aid you with finishing off your garments with a tidy professional finish that only hand stitching can achieve.
Of course, it would be easy to use your sewing machine, but there are certain stitches that can only be done using the craft of stitching by hand.
Basic Hand Sewing Stitches for Beginners
Hand stitching is an art, but easily learned and once mastered, you will use time and time again throughout your dressmaking lifetime. But, there is no need to learn something that you possibly will not use, so I have kept this list to the most common ones used today.
Before you get started though, make sure you have a suitable needle for the weight of the fabric you are working with, for the finish you require.
This is one of the most basic and useful hand stitches. This is made in an up and down manner. This is also known as gathering stitch and is used to sew seams as well as gathering.
When you make dresses, you will need to piece together the parts. Running stitch is used to put the parts together because it is easy to remove it. This can be used as a decorative.
How to do it: First, fasten the thread at the end with a knot. Then run the needle up and down through the fabric with equal spaces. Smaller stitches are firmer while larger ones are quicker to do and to remove. Larger stitches are good for basting, which will be discussed in a little while.
It is used to hold two or more pieces of fabric together so that it will not shift while stitching the permanent stitches.
Tailor’s tacks mark the fabric to trace a pattern piece, without attaching tracing paper.
How to do it: To transfer pattern markings to fabric, or to otherwise mark the point where two pieces of fabric are to be joined. A special loose looped stitch used for this purpose is called a tack or tailor’s tack. This is often done through two opposing layers of the same fabric so that when the threads are snipped between the layers the stitches will be in exactly the same places for both layers thus saving time having to chalk and tack the other layer.
How to do it: Unlike the running stitch, there is no need for the thread to be fastened with a knot. It is made with longer stitches and can easily be removed.
The backstitch is another useful hand stitch. It is the most firm of hand stitches and forms constant run of stitches that resemble on the top side to those formed by a sewing machine. The backside of the backstitch looks different from the right side because stitches are longer and overlapped.
How to do it: First, fasten the thread at the end with a knot. Start the stitch by pulling the needle through the fabric and push it back into the fabric behind where the thread came out. Carry the needle under the fabric to the point where the new stitch is required and repeat the process.
Buttonhole Stitch – Blanket Stitch
Buttonhole stitches catch a loop of the thread on the surface of the fabric and the needle is returned to the back of the fabric at a right angle to the original start of the thread. The finished stitch in some ways resembles a letter “L” depending on the spacing of the stitches. For buttonholes the stitches are tightly packed together and for blanket edges, they are more spaced out. The properties of this stitch make it ideal for preventing raveling of woven fabric.
Buttonhole stitches are structurally similar to featherstitches.
The overcast stitch is used to prevent the fabric from fraying or raveling. The stitch should be made evenly and as close together as possible for a secure edge.
How to do it: Fasten the end of the thread with a knot. Make the same length diagonal and equally spaced stitches over the raw edge of the fabric
The slip stitch is an invisible stitch.
How to do it: Fasten the end of the stitch with a knot. Begin the stitch by bringing the needle out from the fold of the hem hiding the knotted end in the fold. Pick up the thread outside the fabric. Then stick the needle into the fold and slide it along the inside of the fold bringing the needle out and continue across the fold.
The hemming stitch is a stitch used in sewing the hemlines of skirts, blouses, and dresses.
How to do it: First, fasten the end of the thread with a knot. Then, begin the stitch inside the fabric that is folded down, take the thread on the outer side of the fabric then bring the needle back through the edge of the fold.
The herringbone stitch is used to securely attach the hemlines of skirts, blouses, and dresses in an x form.
How to do it: First, fasten the end of the thread with a knot. Make a diagonal stitch from left to right across the fold. Turn the needle to the left and make a small stitch in the fabric from right to left. Bring the needle out and up towards the right to the folded fabric forming an x on the thread. With the needle still turned on the left make a small stitch in the fabric from right to left and continue the process until the hemlines are fully stitched.
Using Hand Sewing Stitches is an Art
So as you can see there is a stitch for every occasion and I have only covered the most commonly used ones that I will be referring back to from time to time, as these are the ones that I use on a regular basis. I recommend practicing these whenever you have the opportunity so you can master the art of hand stitching to give garments that professional finish you so desire.
Some of us are a little more visual and therefore a video may explain it a little easier. You will unfortunately need to watch the ones that you don’t necessarily want or need to, but that is the only downside to watching a walkthrough. It may save you a lot of time, in the long run, watching the following video on basic hand sewing stitches for beginners.
Now, that you have the resources to learn, it is time to put them into practice. If you do not have an immediate project on hand, just find some scraps of fabric, like in the video, and just practice.
Yes, I know, I get a little repetitious with reinforcing practicing, but this is the only way you will ever master the art of hand sewing and sewing in general.
~Keep on Sewing