Types of Hand Stitches: a Guide for Beginners


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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.

Close up of hand sewing

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.

The book Know Your Needles by Liz Kettle

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.

Picture of The Ultimate Thread Guide book with some thread

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.

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.

Looking for some projects that require only hand sewing? Check out the following posts:

Embroidery Books

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.

Two books with embroidery projects

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.

Let’s Connect

My goal at The Ruffled Purse is to support, empower, and inspire you to sew and make wonderful things for yourself, your home, and others.

Need help or have questions on this project, pattern, or tutorial? Send me an email at nicki@theruffledpurse.com and we can work together to get it figured out!

Make sure you sign up for Snappy Scissors (my FREE newsletter sent directly to your inbox) for ongoing sewing inspiration and education. You can find the sign-up box at the bottom of the post.

Also, like or follow The Ruffled Purse® on Facebook. This is another way to stay up-to-date on the fun things going on at The Ruffled Purse.

You can even follow me on Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube! 😊

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More Sewing Education

Looking for more sewing education? Here are a few other posts you may like:

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    1. 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.

  1. Really enjoyed the lesson. I never thought it would be so easy(?) to do hand applique. YOu have sparked a new interest in me.

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