There are a wide variety of sewing stitches that are all designed to meet specific sewing requirements. As a beginner, it is best to identify the stitch that will best suit your sewing needs before starting to sew.
Below are some of the basic stitches that you will need to learn:
1. Running Stitch
The running stitch (also called a basting stitch) is the most basic of all and is usually not used to actually join fabric but as a guide for other stitches or to hold fabric in place while sewing.
It consists of simply guiding your needle in and out of the fabric at regular intervals to form a sequence of stitches and spaces. A running stitch can also be used to gather fabric when pulled tight.
2. Stitches For Hems
Catch stitches are ideal for sewing hems in place securely. Start by ironing a crease about 5 cm's in length into the fabric. Fold the short piece of fabric over and iron a second crease into the fabric. The first crease will form the hem and the second crease will be laid against the inside of fabric that you will be sewing.
Pull the needle and thread through the second crease a couple of millimeters from the edge of the crease until it reaches the knot in your thread. Catch as small piece of the underlying fabric at a slight forward and upward angle from the original entry point. The length of the catch will determine how visible the stitching will be on the outside of the fabric.
Pierce the creased fabric about 5 mm's from the original entry point and you should have an inverted 'V' or 'X'. Repeat until complete.
3. Basic Stitch For Seams
Seams are created when you join two pieces of fabric together. The most effective seam stitch is a Backstitch that basically doubles the seam strength.
Thread your needle and knot the end of the longest piece. Pierce through both pieces of fabric, pulling the thread through from the back to the front, until you reach the knot. Make one stitch to the desired length leaving the thread and needle behind the fabric. Place the needle the desired stitch length away from the first stitch and pull the thread through to the front of the fabric.
Pierce the fabric with the needle as near to the end of the first stitch as possible without using the same hole. You should now have two neat, even stitches facing you. Repeat the process.
4. Finishing Edges
Fabric edges are prone to fraying. The Zig-Zag stitch finishes edges to prevent the fabric from unraveling or becoming frayed. You can work with a single piece of fabric or two edges together.
Start by pulling the thread through the fabric, 3-5 mm's from the edge, from back to front.
Create a vertical stitch directly up from the exit point and then through the original entry point to the front again. Your next stitch will be angled to the top right, from front to back, and then vertically from the back to the front again. Repeat to form a zig-zag. It is best to practice these sewing stitches on scrap material before starting to sew.