Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hand sewing

In my humble opinion, you need to learn to hand sew before you learn how to machine sew.  The reason why is you need to know how to thread a needle and to mend simple things and that requires you to know how to sew.  There will be times when you will need to darn a sock, sew a button or fix a hem.

First and foremost you need to know how to thread a sewing needle. Second is picking the right needle for what you have to sew. 
Hand sewing needles are available in varying sizes with varying points. They guide the thread through fabric when you are hand sewing and the needles are chosen by the fabric. Thick heavy needles would be used on fibers that are thick and difficult to sew through. The finer the fabric, the finer the needle you would choose. You also want to pick a sewing thread that matches the fabric color as closely as possible.

Hint for beginners:  Always test your choice of sewing needle on an inside seam to be sure it will not be making large holes in the fabric.  

Threading a sewing needle can be an exasperating task. Here are a few suggestions to make the job easier.  I have trouble with arthritis and with my eyesight and know from personal experience this is a great tool.

A needle threader sometimes comes with some sewing needles. It can also be purchased in almost all sewing notion sections.  I also use them to thread my sewing machine needle.

Put the wire through the eye of a needle, opens allowing a large opening for the thread and is then pull the thread back through the eye of the needle.  Walla!
After getting the thread through the needle you can decide if you want to use both ends evenly or if just use one long and short side.  This all depends on the fabric and what you are sewing.  If I am quilting and sew a binding, I usually use one long and one short because that way it is easier to hide the stitches in the binding.  It is best if you use both if you are hemming denim.  
This is the direction on to make a knot.  Place the end of the thread on your pointer finger, holding it in place with your thumb.  Wrap the thread around the pointer finger.  Slide the Knot off the Pointer Finger. Using your thumb, slide the threads together towards the end of your pointer finger. This will take some practice.  When my arthritis is bothering me I slide the knot off my finger and tie it in the air at the end.
There are several types of stitches. The first one to learn is a basting stitch.  Most individuals use basting stitches for temporary holding together as seen in the picture below.

You first pull the needle through the material and secure the knotted end to the material. You do not need to hide it. Then proceed to put the needle through the material and in even increments go in and out of the material. Pull and continue again until the desired length. This is also known as a running stitch.
In addition, when you are getting to the desired length you will need to do a “slip stitch” to end it off.  This also can also happen when you are about to run out of thread. Furthermore you can use a slip stitch when you do not want stitches to be seen by hiding them in the crease.  To do this you insert the needle in a seam allowance or hem edge to anchor the knot on the inside of the garment. This is also how you start doing a hem stitch for cuffs, hems, quilting, etc.

The next stitch is a “running stitch” which is similar to the “basting stitch”.  See picture below:

To end with a secure know you put the needle through the material and then pull the thread where there is a loop of thread left and then put the eye of the needle through the loop and then all the way through and pull secure. Do it again twice more in the same place and then cut thread to close the finished knot. Walla!

Back stitching:

Again, anchor the knot inside area (usually a seam allowance) near where you want or need to start sewing.  Push the needle into the fabric where you want to start the seam or joining two pieces of fabric.  See below:


Bring the needle back through both layers of fabric just in front of the previous stitch for the strongest back stitch. Stitching in this fashion will resemble a machine sewn stitch. Push the needle back into the fabric in between where the needle came in and out of the fabric to create the first stitch. Bring the needle up through the fabric the same distance you came forward in creating the first stitch.  See below:


End like describe above before with a knot.

When learning to hand sew use material that has even lines or grids to guide you into making even stitches.  For a lot of folks keeping the stitches a consistent size is one of the biggest challenges.

This is a great website to learn more about sewing in general
In future blogs, I will give directions on how to do a Blanket stitch, Hem stitch and how to sew different kinds of buttons. 

Share your ideas on this or anything here on the blog either here or e-mail me at  I look forward to hearing from you!

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