How do I sew by hand?

Sewing by hand is a way to create useful and beautiful things by joining fabric together with thread. And, with a little patience and practice, anyone can learn how to sew by hand. There are many resources available to help you get started, including online tutorials, sewing classes and articles here on It’s a great way to express your creativity and make something unique. But it can also be very therapeutic. So, dust off that sewing machine or grab some needles and thread and give it a try!

In this article we’ll highlight ways to get started and provide several tips and example to help you get started!

Why would someone want to sew by hand?

Sewing by hand is a way to create something beautiful, unique and personal. If you are like me and you love the challenge of working with your hands, then I think this is the perfect way to express my creativity. I just think there is something special about taking the time to sew by hand. True its slower —but you really get to savor the act of creation.

One of the great things about sewing by hand is that it’s a great way to repair clothes or make alterations. If you know how to sew, you can easily fix a ripped seam or replace a button. You can also use sewing to take in a garment that’s too large or let out one that’s too small. You can add custom details to clothing, add pockets, appliques, or embroidery to give your clothes that unique look. If you’re not happy with the fit of a garment, you can also make adjustments by hand. For example, you can take in the sides of a shirt or skirt if it’s too big or let out the seams if it’s too small. Sewing by hand takes a little practice, but it’s worth learning how to do.

Supplies you might need for hand sewing

Starting with the proper supplies is important when sewing by hand and, of course, having them (and knowing what they are) before starting a project avoids frustration so I would make sure to gather the following items before starting to sew by hand.

Quality Sewing Needles

A good quality sewing needle is paramount when hand sewing. The type of needle you use will depend on the fabric you are working with. A sharp needle is essential for piercing through fabric and for making clean, precise stitches. For most hand-sewing projects, a sharp needle is all you need. A sharp point is also important so that piercing fabric is easy. A dull needle will cause fabric to bunch and make sewing more difficult. But if you are working with delicate fabrics or doing a lot of hand stitching, you might want to invest in a specialty needle. Specialty needles come in many different sizes and shapes, each designed for a specific purpose.

No matter what type of needle you use, be sure to thread it correctly and tie a knot at the end of the thread. This will ensure that your stitches are strong and don’t come undone.

You should also know that there are two main types of needles – straight needles and curved needles.

  • Straight needles are the most common and are used for general sewing.
  • Curved needles are used for sewing curves or hard-to-reach places.

Threading a Needle

Threading a needle is pretty easy. I would start by holding the needle in your non-dominant hand. Then just take the thread in your dominant hand and push it through the eye of the needle. Once through, hold onto both ends of the thread and pull until there is a small loop on one end. Next, put the loop over the needle and just pull it tight. This will help prevent the thread from slipping and your stitches will be more secure.

Curved Needles

Just a little more on curved needles. They have a small eye and a sharp point, and they also come in different sizes. To use a curved needle, you want to thread it with cotton or a polyester thread, and tie a knot at the end. Start at the edge of the fabric, and insert the needle through to the wrong side. Then, come up through the fabric about 1/4 inch from where you started, and insert the needle back down into the fabric. Keep doing this process, making sure that your stitches are even and not too tight.

When you get to the end of your seam, tie off the thread with a knot. You can also backstitch to secure the seam. Trim any excess thread, and press your seam open with an iron. Be sure the eye of the needle is not too small or too large for the thread being used or you will have problems getting your stitches right.

What is a backstitch?

Backstitching is simply sewing in reverse for a few stitches at the beginning and end of your seam. This will help to prevent your stitches from coming undone.

A backstitch is a very simple and effective way to make sure your stitches are extra secure.

In addition to a needle, thread is, of course, necessary for sewing. Again, choosing the right type of thread is important. For example, if working with delicate fabrics use a thinner thread so as not create too much bulk.

There are a few basic stitches every hand sewer should know

Once you master these basic stitches, you’ll be able to sew just about anything by hand.

The Running Stitch

The running stitch is the most basic of all hand sewing stitches. This type of a stitch is commonly used for both decorative and functional purposes. It’s done using a simple in-and-out motion that can be used for a variety of purposes, from mending a hole to stitching a seam. To make a running stitch, you will start by threading your needle and tying a knot at the end of the thread. Next, simply insert the needle up through the fabric and back down again, making sure to catch a bit of fabric on each side of the needle. Continue this process until you’ve reached the end of your seam.

When answering the question: How do I sew by hand? we have several types of stitches.  This image describes 7 of them starting with a running stitch, then a baste stitch, a back stitch, an invisible or ladder stitch, a catch stitch, a whip stitch, and a blanket stitch

The Whipstitch

When you’re ready to move on from the running stitch, the whipstitch is a great next step. It’s a little more complex than the running stitch, but it’s still a fairly easy stitch to master.

The whipstitch is often used to finish raw edges or to attach two pieces of fabric together. It’s also a good stitch to use when you’re working with thick fabrics or multiple layers of fabric.

To do a whipstitch, you’ll need a sharp needle and thread that matches your fabric. First, you’ll start by threading your needle and tying a knot at the end of the thread. Next, you’ll insert the needle into the fabric and come up through the back side of the fabric. Then, just insert the needle into the front side of the fabric, about 1/4 inch from where you first came up through the back.

The Blanket Stitch

The blanket stitch is a bit more advanced than the other two stitches, but it’s still relatively easy to learn. You’ve probably seen this many times. This type of stitch is primarily used for decorative purposes and is often used to add embellishments to blankets, quilts, and other textile projects.

The Zigzag Stitch

This image shows a pattern for a zigzag stitch.  This is one of the many stitches that help answer the question, How do I sew by hand?
The zigzag stitch pattern

The zigzag stitch is one of the most versatile hand stitches and a basic stitching technique that is commonly used for seaming two pieces of fabric together. A zigzag stitch can be used to join two pieces of fabric together or to reinforce a seam. This type of stitch can also be used to create a ruffled effect or to gather fabric or for appliqué work and hemming.

Both of the blanket stitch and the zigzag stitch have their own unique purposes and can be used for a variety of different projects.

So, how do you know which stitch to use and when?
Generally, the zigzag stitch is your best bet when you’re looking for a strong and sturdy seam.

Tips for hand sewing

To get started, you’ll need some basic supplies.

You’ll need a needle and thread, scissors, and fabric. You may also want a thimble to protect your finger from the needle. Choose a thread that matches your fabric or is invisible on light-colored fabrics. A cotton blend is a good all-purpose thread. Cut your fabric into a rectangle or square, then fold it in half lengthwise with the wrong side facing out. Start by poking the needle through the fabric at the fold, then pull it through to make a knot.

You’ll also need a piece of fabric to practice on – an old pillowcase or handkerchief is perfect.

1. Start with a simple project.

A small, straightforward hand sewing project will help you get the hang of the basics without feeling overwhelmed.

Here are some small hand sewing project ideas to get you started:

For a softer feel, many people prefer hand sewn pillowcases to those made by machine.

Follow these steps and you’ll have a beautiful, unique pillowcase in no time.

  • Cut the fabric to the desired size, and fold it in half so the wrong sides are facing each other.
  • Pin the edges together, then begin sewing using a basic running stitch.
  • When you reach the end of the seam, knot the thread securely and trim any excess thread.

A hand sewn tote bag is a great way to show off your personality and style. They are easy to make, and you can use any fabric you like. Here’s how to sew a simple hand sewn tote bag.

  • To start, you will need a piece of fabric that is about 18 inches wide by 22 inches long.
  • Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.
  • Sew the side seams with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.
  • Next, sew the bottom seam with a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

Now it’s time to finish the top edge of the bag. You can do this by folding over the fabric 1/2 inch and then sewing it down with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. You can also use bias tape or ribbon to finish the edge.

Sewing a skirt by hand is simple and can be completed in just a few hours. You will need to start with a piece of fabric that is at least 1 yard long and 30 inches wide. A sewing needle and thread are all that is required to complete this project.

  • To begin, fold the fabric in half lengthwise and press it with an iron.
  • Then, use a pencil to mark where you will want the waistline of the skirt to fall.
  • Once you have marked the waistline, cut the fabric along this line.
  • Next, hem the top edge of the skirt by folding the fabric over 1/2 inch and then folding it over again.
  • Sew along the folded edge with a needle and thread.

2. Choose the right needle and thread.

There are different types of needles and threads for different fabrics and projects. You will need to do some research based on what you plan to sew. I also, regularly, talk to a salesperson at my local JOANN Stores for guidance on what to use for some of my projects.

3. Take your time

Sewing takes practice, so don’t expect to be perfect from the start. With a little practice, you’ll be able to sew like a pro in no time!

When to hand sew vs machine sewing

I think it is important to know the difference so that you can achieve the best results for your project.

Here are some examples
1. Sewing on a patch
2. Sewing a button
3. Hemming a pair of pants
4. Taking in a seam
5. Sewing a applique

I also find that while machine sewing is faster and more efficient for large projects, hand sewing is best for delicate fabrics or projects that require a lot of detail. Knowing when to sew by hand or machine will help you create beautiful projects that last.


Sewing by hand is a relaxing and satisfying and anyone can learn it with just a little practice. Obviously sewing machines are faster and often easier to use, there are many reasons to choose hand sewing over machine sewing. Hand sewing is more portable than a machine, so it’s perfect for taking on trips or working on projects in small spaces. It’s also quieter than a machine, which can be important when sewing at night or in an apartment with thin walls. In addition, hand sewing can be more relaxing and meditative than using a machine. And for some types of projects, like delicate fabrics or heirloom quilts, hand stitching is simply the best option. I find that it’s simple, rewarding, and a great way to create unique and one-of-a-kind garments. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy it. So, get out there and start sewing!

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