• Kaine

Sewing 112 - Basic Hand Sewing

Updated: Dec 7, 2019


This is the final lesson in the foundation level of our sewing classes. Congratulations on making it this far. Before we commence with garment sewing, it is important that you learn how to sew by hand and some basic hand sewing stitches. As with most things in sewing, there are many stitches for many purposes, but for this lesson, I have narrowed the list down to the Four most often used stitches in garment sewing.


I suggest that you also watch the video to view live demonstrations of these stitches.



Type of needles to use for hand sewing

A hand sewing needle has the eye on one end the sharp point on the other end. It comes in different lengths and thicknesses. The general rule is that the lower the number, the finer the needle, the higher the number, the thicker the needle. (Note that different brands have different sizing systems. Size one below is about 1.75 inches long)



The size of needle you choose to use ultimately depends on the thickness of the fabric, the number of layers you are sewing, the type of stitches you are sewing and the thread you are using. Generally for garment sewing, you want a needle that will not damage your fabric by leaving permanent holes or pulling the fibres.

I generally recommend a size 1 or something similar for all purpose hand sewing. You may choose to have a size 6 for other purposes, but I will not advise you use it for your fabric as it is too big.


How to Thread the needle

Threading the needle simply involves passing the thread through the eye of the needle. You only have to decide if you are sewing with a single thread or with a double thread.



(a) If you are using a single thread, only make sure one tail of thread is longer than the other after threading the needle.



(b) If you are using double threads, only make sure both thread tails are of equal length after threading the needle.


The 4 Basic Stitches for hand sewing


1. The Running Stitch - This is a temporary stitch.


It can be used;

(a) To temporarily hold pieces of fabric together, which is also known as Basting or Tacking

(b) To create gathers on fabric

(c) As a decorative stitch


A running stitch is created by a simple in and out motion. Keep the needle in a horizontal position, maintaining an even distance between stitches. You do not have to secure the stitch with a knot since it is temporary.


2. The Herringbone Stitch - This is a permanent stitch. It is also known as the Catch Stitch.


Front and Back pictured above.

It can be used

(a) to hem garments,

(b) sew pieces of fabric together, and

(c) for decorative embroidery


Pictured from left to right. To create a herringbone stitch,

First image - bring the thread out from the back of the fabric (1). Then go a level below and push your needle in (2) and out (3) from right to left

Second image - Go back up to the original line, and push your needle in (2) and out (3) from right to left, with point (3) being directly above the original point (2). Repeat.


3. The Back Stitch - This is a permanent stitch. It is used to permanently sew pieces of fabric together


Front and Back of the stitch pictured above

Pictured from left to right. First create a secure knot. Pull thread from back of fabric. Push needle in and out of fabric at the point of entry, this will form a loop. Pass needle through loop and pull.


To create a Back stitch. Push the needle in and out of fabric like in a running stitch. Next push needle back in at the endpoint of the previous stitch (1), coming out a step ahead of the thread (2). Repeat.


4. The Slip Stitch - This is a permanent stitch which is used when you want to have invisible seams.


Front and Back of stitch pictured above.

It is commonly used to sew linings to main fabric, facings to main fabric or for hemming.


To create a slip stitch. Secure thread the beginning of work. Push needle in (1) and out (2) of folded part of work from right to left, keeping needle in the crease of fold. Next go directly below the last stitch made and sew in and out of the lower layer, picking only a few threads of the fabric. Repeat.


Learn to make the pin cushion pictured above by watching the video on YouTube! Thank you for reading and we will see you in the next lesson.


Did you know that you can also watch this lesson?



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