• Kaine

Sewing 112 - Basic Hand Sewing

Updated: Jan 30

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.

pin cushion

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)

hand sewing needles

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 threaded needle

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

a double threaded 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.

running 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.