How to Sew the Blind Stitch by Hand

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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.

In the quilting world, this barely-there stitch is called the blind stitch. It’s often used in applique, attaching bindings to the back of quilts, on other quilt finishes, and stitching labels.

Close up of the blind stitch in hand appliqued flowers.
The center of the flower and petals were hand appliqued on the yellow fabric before it was quilted.

In garment construction, the blind stitch is called the slip stitch. It can be used to finish facings and hems.

Regardless of what you call it, this invisible stitch can be used anytime you need to connect one folded edge to a flat surface.

Just So You Know: I’m right-handed and don’t know if my tutorials will work for those of you who are left-handed. Still, I encourage you to take a look at the videos and photos. Hopefully, the technique will be something you can use.

Sanity Saver: When you’re hand sewing, it’s common for the thread to get twisted. If this happens to you, hold up the project and let the needle and thread dangle. The thread will unwind but the needle may fall off the thread so keep an eye on it.

Needles and Thread

To keep this post focused on helping you learn how to do the blind stitch, I don’t talk in-depth about selecting needles and thread for your project.

However, these are two important factors in hand sewing.

Needles

If you’re not sure what needle to use for your project, 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.

Thread

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.

Book - The Ultimate Thread Guide by Becky Goldsmith

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.

Video – How to Sew the Blind Stitch by Hand

  • Introduction
  • 1 minute 2 seconds – Applique with the Blind Stitch
  • 3 minutes 4 seconds – Attaching a Binding with the Blind Stitch
  • 5 minutes 19 seconds – Hemming with the Blind Stitch (also called slip stitch)

How to Sew the Blind Stitch by Hand

The blind stitch, a nearly invisible stitch, connects one folded edge to a flat surface such as applique, attaching a quilt binding, and to finish facings and hems.

Note: In all three picture tutorials, I’m using a contrasting thread so you can see the stitches. Typically, you’ll use a thread that compliments the fabric color so it’s even more difficult to see after the stitches are done.

Tips for a Successful Blind Stitch

  • Use a thread that matches the fabric.
  • Use a needle with a sharp point when working on woven fabric.
  • Catch only a thread or 2 when taking the short stitch on a hem.

Applique and the Blind Stitch

Step 1: Push the needle through the fold from the wrong side of the fabric. Anchor the knot on the inside of the fold.

Step 2: Insert the needle in the under fabric close to the fold and right next to where the thread is in the fold.

Slide the needle along the back of the under fabric about a 1/4″.

Push the needle to the right side of the under fabric and into the top of the fold.

blind stitch for applique
This image shows Step 2 from the front.
Note: The smaller green square and blue square with the red flower were appliqued on top of each other. I used colors of thread that complemented the fabric. So, it is very difficult to see the stitches.
The needle on the back of the under fabric when making a blind stitch.
This image shows Step 2 from the back.

Pull the needle and thread through the fold. Don’t pull too tightly. The fabric should not gather.

Step 3: Repeat Step 2.

View of several blind stitches from the front.
View of several blind stitches from the front.
View of multiple blind stitches on the back of the applique
View of multiple blind stitches on the back of the applique.

Attaching a Binding with the Blind Stitch

Step 1: Push the needle from the back of the binding into the fold. Anchor the knot on the back of the binding.

Anchor the knot in the binding.

Step 2: Slide the needle between the back fabric and batting about a 1/4″. The needle shouldn’t go through the front of the quilt.

Push the needle to the front of the back fabric and through the top of the fold in the binding.

Making a blind stitch to attach the binding to the back of the fabric.
This image shows Step 2.

Pull the needle and thread through the binding. Don’t pull too tightly. The binding should not pucker or gather.

Step 3: Repeat Step 2.

Multiple blind stitches to attach the binding to the back fabric.
This image shows multiple blind stitches along the binding on the bottom and side. Look for the green thread.

Hemming with the Blind Stitch

Step 1: Slide the needle under and through the edge of the fold to anchor the knot.

Step 2: Pick up a thread or 2 of the under fabric.

Take a stitch approximately 1/2″ long and push the needle through the fold.

The blind stitch used to sew a hem in place.
This image shows Step 2 from the inside of the garment.
Multiple blind (slip) stitches shown from the front.
This image shows the garment with the right side facing out after several stitches have been taken. This is what would be seen. Remember: I used contrasting thread so you could see the stitches. You would normally select a thread that would blend into the fabric.

Hand Sewing for Beginners

There are several basic hand stitches you need to know. Sometimes hand stitching does the job better than your sewing machine or it allows you to do something your sewing machine can’t.

The type of stitch really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

I created a series of picture and video tutorials to demonstrate hand sewing techniques you should know:

You can see all the above lessons in one place at Types of Hand Stitches: a Guide for Beginners

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 ability to hand sew can be used with a variety of sewing interests such as mending, quilting, clothing, 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 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 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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