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.
I’ve seen the whip stitch called both the overhand and overcast stitch. There is a slight difference between these stitches and it has to do with the angle of the needle which affects the angle of the stitch.
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 whip stitch, 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’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.
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.
Video – How to Whip Stitch by Hand
- 43 seconds – Close an opening with the whip stitch
- 3 minutes – Hand sew a flat edge to a flat surface with the whip stitch
How to Whip Stitch by Hand
The whip stitch is a visible stitch that can be used to hold 2 edges together or join a raw or flat edge against a flat surface.
Similar stitches are the overhand stitch and overcast stitch. The main difference is the direction the needle is going.
Tips for a Successful Whip Stitch
- Make the stitches the same distance apart and the same size so they look uniform.
- Be patient. It takes time to get the stitches to look the same.
- Use a coordinating thread color to help hide flaws in the stitching.
Pictures – How to Close an Opening with the Whip Stitch
Step 1: Anchor the knot on the inside of the fold near the sewn seam on the side that will be closest to you while you’re working.
Step 2: Take the needle over the edge and through the back and front fabric about 1/4″ inch to the left of the thread. Pass the needle through the fabric a few threads below the top edge on both sides. The needle should end up on the side closest to you.
Step 3: Repeat Step 2 until the opening is closed.
Pictures – How to Sew a Flat Edge to a Flat Surface with the Whip Stitch
Note: In the photo demonstration, the scrap of green ribbon represents a label.
Step 1: Anchor the knot in the under fabric behind the item you’re sewing down. (In the photos it’s a ribbon scrap that represents a label.)
Step 2: Bring the needle to the front of the “label” by pushing it from the back of the “label” a few threads from the top edge. Pull the needle and thread to the front of the “label”.
Important: The needle and thread should not go through to the other side of the “quilt”.
Step 3: Take the needle over the edge about a 1/4″ to the left from the point where the thread is. Pass it through the under fabric close to the edge of the “label” and through the back of the “label” a few threads from the top edge. Pull the thread through. The needle and thread should be on the front of the label.
Step 4: Repeat Step 3 until you’ve sewn all the edges down.
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 Hand Sewing 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.
- 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 Fabric Yo-Yo
- How to Sew a Tic-Tac-Toe Board
A couple of projects that require only hand sewing.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work together to get it figured out!
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