Hand Sewing Stitches for Garment Sewing

Today I’m going to talk with you about hand sewing. There are 3 hand sewing stitches that I find very useful when sewing garments. The running stitch, the blind stitch, and the hem stitch.

What, you thought just because you have a sewing machine you never have to hand sew? Well, I guess you could go that route, but a little time for hand sewing often makes the finished garment that much better.

Let’s break these stitches down.

running stitch

The Running Stitch
This is the easiest of the three stitches, and is useful for basting and gathering. Especially if you are gathering a long section, when a machine basted stitch might break.

To do it, you just run the needle back and forth through evenly sized folds of fabric – folded accordion style.

To gather, you pull the thread (I often even leave the needle attached).

The Blind Stitch (aka Ladder Stitch)
This is the hand sewing stitch I use most often – it gives a great finish on collars (and also works great to close up pillows, bean bags and the like). To do this, you need two pieces of fabric with their seam allowances folded in towards each other. Start by hiding your knot in a seam allowance. Then, take a stitch in the seam allowance parallel to the fold or the stitching line (as in the picture below).

Then take another stitch in the seam allowance on the other side, making sure your stitch doesn’t go through to the outside of the item. You’ll create a series of Vs like this

Hand blind stitch

When you pull the thread, the two seam allowances will pull together, hiding the stitching in between them.

The Hem Stitch
Now, if you read my tutorial about blind hemming with your machine, you might not ever need this stitch. But sometimes I still use it, because if you’re hemming something tiny, it’s often easier than doing the setup for a blind machine hem.

To do this, first press your hem, then hide your knot in the seam allowance.

Stitch perpendicular to the hem fold, going through just a few threads on the outside of the item.

Move needle down and repeat. The inside will look like this

And the outside will look like this, though of course you would want to use matching thread so these stitches will be nearly invisible.

Hand hem stitch

I hope those stitches help you finish your projects beautifully this year!

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  1. says

    Interesting! This isn’t how I’ve done hems in the past, but I like the finish on this so much. (And I hate setting up to do a blind hem on the machine! I know I just need more practice, but I find it so stressful.)

  2. Elizabeth says

    Thank you for this wonderfully detailed walkthrough! I have never sewn before and would love to make my own dresses by hand.

  3. Lynn says

    To make your stitches more professional, skip the knot and do a few tiny back stitches. I find hand sewing very relaxing!

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