Hand Sewing Stitches for Beginners

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 show 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.

Running Stitch:

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.

RunningStitch - hand sewing stitches for beginners

Basting (tacking):

It is used to hold two or more pieces of fabric together so that it will not shift while stitching the permanent stitches.

Basting Stitch - hand sewing stitches for beginners

Tailor’s Tacks

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.

Tailors Tack - Un-Cut - hand sewing stitches for beginners

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.

Tailors Tack - Cut - hand sewing stitches for beginners


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.

Back Stitch Hand Sewing Stitches for Beginners

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.

Hand Sewing Stitches for Beginners Blanket Stitch

Buttonhole stitches are structurally similar to featherstitches.

Overcast Stitch

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

Overcasting Hand Sewing Stitches for Beginners

Slip stitch

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.

Slipstitch Hand Sewing Stitches for Beginners

Hem Stitch

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.

Hemming Stitch Hand Sewing Stitches for Beginners

Herringbone Stitch

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.

Hand Sewing Stitches for Beginners Herringbone Stitch

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

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2 thoughts on “Hand Sewing Stitches for Beginners”

  1. This is very straight forward and easy for me to understand! I often have trouble getting my mind to “see” what I’m supposed to do from instructions. You have helped me tremendously. Thank you!

    • Hi Shelli,

      I am pleased this has helped you. I too am a visual person and find it hard for my mind to see as well. Feel free to pop back anytime to refresh yourself. If there is anything else that I can help you with, please ask away.

      All the best with developing your hand sewing skills 🙂



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