Even if you prefer to sew by machine, there will come times when hand stitching is your best option. Hand stitching is usually preferred for finishing waistbands, linings, and hems, when you want to achieve a flawless finish. Here are four of the most useful hand sewing stitches, and what they are used for.
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The running stitch is very useful for any application where you’d like to make a ruche, such as for gathered skirts. It’s also a great stitch to use when you are stitching a curved edge because it’ll help prevent stretching. Many people even prefer to use it for basting seams. This stitch looks the same on either side of the fabric.
Generally you should work from left to right, unless you are a lefty. Insert your needle into the fabric and pull it back out again. Next, weave the needle in and out of the fabric keeping your stitches as straight and evenly spaced as possible.
If you have clothing that needs to be mended, this is the stitch that you’ll want to use. It creates a very strong seam and is able to get into awkward places that a machine can’t. On the facing side of the material, the stitch looks just like a straight machine stitch, but on the other side they overlap.
This time working right to left, insert your needle and pull it through. Re-insert it about half a centimeter from where the needle just emerged, and push it back through about a half centimeter to the left of your first stitch. Continue this pattern until the end, where you’ll insert the needle to the right, and come out one stitch ahead to the left.
Blind Slip Stitch
This is a virtually invisible stitch that is used for just about everything from simple hemming to finishing the edge of a bodice lining. It is one of them most versatile stitches, and is perfect when you don’t want your stitching to be visible.
Press and pin your fabric to prevent slipping. Insert the needle near the folded edge and pull it through. Lift a few threads directly from the fabric underneath where the needle emerged, and pull the needle through. Reinsert it above the point where your needle emerged. Slide it between the folds and pull it out a centimeter away from where it was inserted. Repeat until finished, then knot it off.
Blind Catch Stitch
This is used almost exclusively for hems, particularly those hems in which flexibility is required.
Make two folds in the helm, the first 1/4″ and the second 1/2″. Working left to right, insert your needle into the fold. Make a stitch just below the fold, then make another in the main portion of the fabric diagonally toward the right of the other stitch, and pull the needle through. Keep it secure, but not tight. Make another stitch diagonally up toward the right, just below the fold, followed by another stitch from the main portion of the fabric. Repeat until finished, and tie off.
If you learn these four hand sewing stitches, you’ll have all the weapons in your arsenal to create perfectly finished garments. All that is left then is to put them on, and show them off!