Sewing by hand is a useful skill that allows you to make repairs, alterations, and even small projects without needing a sewing machine. From mending torn seams to hemming pants or sewing on buttons, hand sewing opens up a world of clothing customizations and DIY possibilities.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: To sew by hand, you’ll need a needle, thread, scissors, pins, and fabric. Start by threading the needle and tying a knot at the end. Use pins to hold fabric pieces together, then sew a running stitch by passing the needle in and out of the fabric.
Finish by tying off the thread and removing pins.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn everything you need to start sewing by hand. We’ll cover supplies you need, different hand sewing techniques, how to make stitches neat and even, and beginner sewing projects to practice your new skills.
Gathering Hand Sewing Supplies
Before you begin your sewing journey, it’s important to gather all the necessary hand sewing supplies. Here’s a breakdown of the essential items you’ll need:
Invest in a variety of hand sewing needles to accommodate different fabrics and projects. Sharp needles are ideal for woven fabrics, while ballpoint needles work well with knits. You can find needles in various sizes, so choose ones that suit your project’s requirements.
Thread is the lifeblood of any sewing project. Make sure to choose a high-quality thread that matches your fabric. Cotton thread is versatile and suitable for most fabrics, while polyester thread is more durable and stronger. Remember to select a thread color that complements your fabric or opt for a neutral shade that blends well.
Scissors and Pins
A good pair of fabric scissors is essential for precise cutting. Look for sharp, stainless steel scissors that comfortably fit your hand. Investing in a pair of small, sharp embroidery scissors is also handy for trimming threads and intricate details. Additionally, don’t forget to have a box of pins to secure your fabric in place before stitching.
A thimble is a small but mighty tool that protects your finger while pushing the needle through thick fabrics. Choose a thimble made of metal or leather that fits snugly on your finger. It may take some getting used to, but it will save your finger from unnecessary pricks and soreness.
Fabric and Patterns
Of course, you’ll need fabric to bring your sewing projects to life. Choose a fabric that suits your project’s purpose, whether it’s cotton, linen, silk, or something else. Consider the weight, drape, and stretch of the fabric, depending on the garment or item you’re making. Additionally, if you’re following a specific pattern, make sure to gather all the necessary pattern pieces and instructions.
Remember, having the right tools and supplies will make your hand sewing experience much more enjoyable and successful. Now that you have gathered all your essentials, you’re ready to start stitching!
Learning Basic Hand Sewing Techniques
Threading the Needle
Threading the needle is the first step in hand sewing. It may seem like a simple task, but it can be a bit tricky if you’re new to sewing. Start by choosing the right type of needle and thread for your project. Then, hold the needle with one hand and the thread with the other.
Insert the end of the thread through the eye of the needle and pull it through. You can also wet the end of the thread or use a needle threader to make threading easier.
Tying a Knot
Tying a knot is an essential skill in hand sewing. It helps secure the thread and prevents it from unraveling as you sew. To tie a knot, hold the end of the thread between your thumb and index finger. Loop the thread around your finger and wrap it around the tail of the thread.
Pull the loop through the wrapped thread to create a knot. Repeat this process a few times to make the knot stronger.
The basting stitch is a temporary stitch used to hold fabric pieces together before sewing them permanently. It is longer and looser than other stitches, making it easy to remove. To create a basting stitch, start by making a small knot at the end of the thread.
Insert the needle into the fabric and bring it up a few millimeters away. Continue stitching in this manner, creating evenly spaced stitches.
The running stitch is one of the most basic and versatile hand stitches. It is commonly used for sewing seams and attaching patches. To create a running stitch, start by making a small knot at the end of the thread. Insert the needle into the fabric and bring it up a short distance away.
Insert the needle back into the fabric, creating evenly spaced stitches. Repeat this process until you reach the end of the seam or patch.
The backstitch is a strong and secure stitch commonly used for sewing seams that require extra strength, such as hems and buttonholes. To create a backstitch, start by making a small knot at the end of the thread. Insert the needle into the fabric a short distance away from the starting point.
Bring the needle back to the starting point and insert it a short distance ahead. Continue stitching in this manner, creating a continuous line of stitches.
The blanket stitch is a decorative stitch often used to finish raw edges, create appliques, or attach trims. It is characterized by its looped appearance. To create a blanket stitch, start by making a small knot at the end of the thread.
Insert the needle into the fabric and bring it up a short distance away. Insert the needle back into the fabric, catching a small loop of thread. Repeat this process, creating evenly spaced loops along the edge.
The slip stitch is an almost invisible stitch used for joining two fabric pieces together without showing any visible stitches on the outside. It is commonly used for hemming and finishing seams. To create a slip stitch, start by making a small knot at the end of the thread.
Insert the needle into the fabric, catching a small amount of fabric from one piece. Bring the needle over to the other piece and insert it, catching a small amount of fabric. Repeat this process, creating a hidden seam.
Sewing Neat, Even Stitches
When sewing by hand, it’s important to focus on creating neat and even stitches that will result in a professional-looking finished product. Here are some tips to help you achieve this:
Use the Correct Needle Size
Choosing the right needle size for your project is crucial. A needle that is too small may cause the fabric to pucker, while a needle that is too large may leave visible holes. Consider the thickness of your fabric and select a needle that will glide through it smoothly.
Work with an Appropriate Thread Weight
Matching the thread weight to your fabric is essential for achieving even stitches. If the thread is too thick or too thin, it can create uneven tension and affect the overall appearance of your sewing. Take the time to select a thread weight that is suitable for your project.
Use a Thimble
A thimble may seem like a small and insignificant tool, but it can make a big difference in your hand sewing. A thimble protects your finger from the needle’s pressure and helps you push the needle through the fabric more easily. It can also improve the accuracy and consistency of your stitches.
Mark Fabrics Before Sewing
Before you start sewing, it’s a good idea to mark your fabric with tailor’s chalk or fabric markers. This will help you maintain straight lines and ensure that your stitches are evenly spaced. Take your time to accurately mark your fabric, especially when working on intricate designs or patterns.
Use Pins and Clips
Pinning or clipping your fabric together before sewing can help keep it in place and prevent shifting. This is especially important when working with slippery or delicate fabrics. Use pins or clips to secure the edges or seams, ensuring that they are aligned and ready for stitching.
Take Your Time
Patience is key when it comes to sewing neat and even stitches by hand. Rushing through the process can lead to mistakes and uneven stitching. Take your time, focus on each stitch, and maintain a steady hand. The more care and attention you put into your sewing, the better the final result will be.
Remember, practice makes perfect. Don’t be discouraged if your stitches aren’t perfect right away. With time and experience, you will improve your sewing skills and create beautifully stitched projects.
Beginner Hand Sewing Projects
Hem Pants or Skirts
One of the first projects a beginner can tackle when learning how to sew by hand is hemming pants or skirts. This is a great way to practice your stitching skills and create a neat and professional finish. To hem pants or skirts, start by measuring and marking the desired length.
Then, fold the fabric over and secure it with pins. Using a needle and thread, sew a straight stitch along the folded edge, making sure to catch both layers of fabric. Trim any excess fabric and voila! You have successfully hemmed your pants or skirt.
Sew on Buttons
Sewing on buttons is another beginner-friendly hand sewing project. Whether you need to replace a missing button or add decorative buttons to a garment, this skill is essential. Start by selecting the appropriate thread and needle for your button.
Position the button on the fabric and secure it with a knot. Then, sew through the buttonholes, creating a cross or an “X” pattern. Repeat this process several times to ensure the button is securely attached. Finally, tie off the thread and trim any excess.
Sewing on buttons is a simple yet useful skill that every beginner should master.
Mend Rips and Tears
Learning how to mend rips and tears is a valuable skill that can extend the life of your clothing. To mend a rip or tear, start by aligning the edges of the fabric and securing them with pins. Using a needle and thread, sew a series of small stitches along the tear, gradually closing it up.
Be sure to sew through both layers of fabric to create a strong and durable mend. Trim any excess thread and admire your handiwork. With a little practice, you’ll be able to mend rips and tears like a pro.
Make Simple Pillows
Making simple pillows is a fun and rewarding hand sewing project for beginners. Start by selecting your fabric and cutting two identical pieces in the desired shape and size of your pillow. Place the two fabric pieces together, right sides facing inwards, and secure them with pins.
Using a needle and thread, sew around the edges, leaving a small opening for stuffing. Turn the pillow right side out and stuff it with your desired filling, such as polyester fiberfill or foam. Finally, sew the opening closed and fluff up your new pillow.
You can experiment with different fabrics, shapes, and sizes to create unique and personalized pillows.
Sew Small Pouches
Sewing small pouches is a great way to practice your hand sewing skills while creating a functional and stylish accessory. Start by cutting two identical pieces of fabric in the desired size and shape of your pouch.
Place the fabric pieces together, right sides facing inwards, and secure them with pins. Using a needle and thread, sew around the edges, leaving a small opening for turning the pouch right side out. Turn the pouch right side out and sew the opening closed.
You can add embellishments such as buttons, zippers, or decorative stitches to personalize your pouch. These small pouches can be used to store jewelry, cosmetics, or other small items.
While it takes practice to perfect neat hand sewing, the basics can be learned in no time. With a few key supplies and techniques, you’ll be able to mend garments, craft small projects, and customize your wardrobe.
Hand sewing empowers you to fix old items and create new ones without machines or equipment.
Start building your hand sewing skills today. Gather some fabric scraps and a needle and thread, then try out different stitches. Refer back to this guide anytime you need a refresher on techniques. With a bit of patience, you’ll be hand sewing like a pro in no time!