Types of Hand Stitches: a Guide for Beginners
It’s important to know the different types of hand stitches and how to do them.
You should also know how to tie a knot in a thread when you start and how to finish off the thread at the end.
Hand sewing is both fun and functional.
It can be used for mending, quilting, sewing garments, closing openings, and many other sewing related projects.
Sometimes hand sewing is better for a project than using a machine.
There are several reasons for this including, but not limited to, your machine can’t do a certain stitch or it’s impossible to get the fabric under the needle for the particular task you want to do.
Regardless of the reason, you need to know the different types of hand stitches and how to do them.
Needles and Thread
To keep this post focused on helping you learn basic hand sewing skills, I don’t talk in-depth about selecting needles and thread for your project.
However, these are two important factors in hand sewing.
If you have questions or want to learn about hand sewing needles, check out the Hand Needle Guide from Joann.com.
It features photos and descriptions of 14 different hand sewing needles, as well as needle threaders, thimbles and a couple of other hand sewing tools.
Does thread have you confused?
According to this sewingpartsonline.com article Thread Mastery: A Guide to Understanding Thread, all-purpose thread is what you’ll use 95% of the time. It is good for all weights of fabric and is usually made from polyester or cotton.
The Thread Mastery Guide is very in-depth and provides A LOT of information. If you want to learn more about thread, it’s a great resource to read and bookmark for future reference.
Books for Your Library
The above-linked resources on needles and thread are free, but if you are looking for some excellent books to add to your sewing library, I recommend the following two books.
Know Your Needles by Liz Kettle is a pocket-sized resource that provides easy-to-consume information about both machine and hand sewing needles.
For each needle, photos are included along with details such as fabrics, threads, sizes, and tasks that are appropriate for the needle.
There are 13 sewing machine needles and 17 hand sewing needles featured in this book.
The Ultimate Thread Guide by Becky Goldsmith lives up to its subtitle Everything You Need to Know to Choose the Perfect Thread for Every Project.
My favorite part of this book is the section on thread manufacturers. There are 14 manufacturers presented in the book and each has a 2-page spread giving a snapshot of their threads at the time of the book’s printing (2019).
Part of the snapshot is a quick reference chart of different threads and includes the thread name, fiber, weight/ply, use, and needle size.
In addition, there are several chapters to help you build foundational knowledge about threads.
Types of Hand Stitches: Lessons for Beginners
To help you learn basic hand stitching techniques, I created a series of step-by-step lessons designed with the beginner in mind.
Each lesson includes both photo and video tutorials so you can learn in the format that best meets your learning style.
Three Ways to Tie a Knot in Thread
When you hand sew, the thread needs to be anchored in the fabric so your stitches are secure.
Learn different methods for creating knots to do the job.
How to Do an Invisible Stitch (aka the Ladder Stitch)
Are you sewing a pillow, scrunchie, or another project that needs to be turned right side out?
You’re almost done with your project and need to close the opening with a stitch that can’t be seen.
How to Do a Running Stitch
The running stitch is a straight stitch that can be worked in both straight and curved lines.
Believe it or not, it can be both practical and decorative.
It's one of the basic hand-sewing stitches you want in your sewing skills toolkit.
How to Sew the Blind Stitch by Hand
Do you need an invisible stitch, but the ladder stitch just won't work?
Chances are the blind stitch (also called the slip stitch) will get the job done.
How to Whip Stitch by Hand
When an invisible stitch (like the ladder or blind stitch) isn't critical, the whip stitch could be the hand stitch you want to use.
The whip stitch is a visible stitch that can be used to hold 2 edges together (finished edges or raw) or hold a raw or flat edge against a flat surface
How to Backstitch by Hand
You can backstitch by hand to embroidery, hand sew seams, or mend.
The backstitch is a strong, versatile stitch that is both fun and functional.
How to Finish a Stitch in Hand Sewing
Have you been doing some hand sewing and aren't 100% sure how to finish a stitch as you near the end of the thread?
If so, you're in the right place!
You'll learn multiple ways to securely tie off a thread in hand sewing.
Projects With Hand Sewing
Most of the sewing projects featured on The Ruffled Purse require the use of a sewing machine.
The projects below need a little hand sewing, too.
- How to Make Pattern Weights
- Sew a Round Pillow Cover with Fringe Trim
- Sew a Square Pillow Cover with Pom Pom Trim
- How to Sew a Tic-Tac-Toe Board
Looking for some projects that require only hand sewing? Check out the following posts:
- How to Sew a Fabric Yo-Yo
- How to Make a Yo-Yo Garland
- Applique Smooth Edges on a Curve
- How to Fix a Rip in Pants
- How to Fix a Hole in the Back Pocket of Jeans
The different types of hand stitches can be used with a variety of sewing interests such as mending, quilting, making clothes, and embroidery.
If you’re interested in embroidery, there are a couple of books you need to check out. Both are part of my own personal sewing library.
Doodle-Stitching by Aimee Ray starts off with more than 20 pages of information to get you started with embroidery including a stitch library, materials and tools, and sewing essentials.
Then there are almost 30 fun projects with detailed directions to get you started on incorporating embroidery into all kinds of sewing and quilting projects.
Patchwork Loves Embroidery by Gail Pan has a few pages of general instructions and visuals of how to do basic embroidery stitches.
The best part of Patchwork Loves Embroidery is how most of the projects combine hand stitching with quilting.
My main goals are to support, empower, and inspire you to discover the joy of sewing.
Need help or have questions on this project, pattern, or tutorial? Send me an email at email@example.com and we can work together to get it figured out!
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More Sewing Education
Looking for more sewing education? Here are a few other posts you may like:
I really enjoyed your video on appliqué. Hopefully I will get inspired to start a project.
Thank you, Janey! I understand. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. In the meantime, consider making samplers from the different shapes to practice the applique techniques until inspiration strikes.
Really enjoyed the lesson. I never thought it would be so easy(?) to do hand applique. YOu have sparked a new interest in me.
Yay! That makes me happy to hear!