Handstitching Basics — First Stitches

Parte The Thyrd (stitches):

Okay kids, here’s where we actually put needle to fabric and sew!

You have your needles threaded, correct?

You have your thread knotted, correct?

Okay then! Let’s go!

You can perform these stitches on any fabric scraps you have lying around the house. But if you want to have a useful tool when you’re finished, cut two 4″ x 6″ squares of linen and follow these directions!

First a word on the use of thimbles — I HIGHLY recommend them. If you’re going to be doing any amount of handwork, learning to sew with a thimble will save you much bruising, callouses and puncture wounds on your thumb and index finger. It takes more finesse to learn to sew with a thimble than without, however, so you might want to try this first without the thimble and then practice with one later.

For those using a thimble, it goes on the ring (fourth) finger of your working hand. You literally push the needle with this finger as you sew.

If you’re buying a thimble, try them on first (even the local fabric store has packaging that will let you try on the thimble before buying). You want the thimble to fit the tip of your ring finger perfectly and not be at all loose. Long-nailed seamstresses: DO NOT ATTEMPT

Okay, now onto the sewing!
Lay one piece of linen on top of the other and align the edges. If you’re right handed, hold the fabric in your left hand and the needle between your right thumb and index finger. If a lefty, reverse this. If using a thimble, put it on the ring (4th) finger of your working hand and touch the top of the thimble to the back of the needle (where the eye is).

Put your working hand under the fabric and from underneath touch the needle to a point 1/4″ away from the bottom right corner (bottom left corner if your left hand is your working hand). Insert the needle into the fabric and push with the thimble until it pokes through the top.

Bring your working hand above the fabric and pull the needle and thread all the way through until the knot is the only thing left on the underside.

Congratualtions! You’ve just made a stitch!

Earlier in the class, we talked about “running stitch” and how it was the most popular stitch used throughout history. It’s also the easiest to do. So now…

The Running Stitch
Running Stitch is a small, even, in-and-out stitch used for seams that require little strength.

On the top side of the fabric, touch your needle to a point approximately 1/8″ above where you came through with the thread, staying 1/4″ away from the vertical edge of the fabric.

Stitches can be any size, but 1/8″ is good to start with. Doesn’t matter how big or small they are, as long as they’re as close to the same size as each other as possible.

Now push your needle through both layers of fabric, move your hand to underneath the fabric and pull the needle through.

Okay… this seems very time consuming, doesn’t it? It’s really not once you get the hang of things! And there’s a short cut.

Once you are comfortable with taking a stitch slowly, you can make several at all time. Weave the needle in and out of the two layers of fabric, point down, point up, point down, point up, ~1/8″ away from each other, putting steady pressure on the needle with your thimble finger. After taking about three or four stitches on the needle, push it through with your thimble finger (or pull it through with your thumb and index finger). Repeat until you reach a point 1/4″ from the top of the fabric.

That’s The Running Stitch!

Here’s a graphic for the visual learners:

Next time… “More Stitches”


© 2006 Kass McGann. All Rights Reserved. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.