Learning to sew by hand is a great place to start if you want to try your hand at sewing, but don’t want to fork out for a sewing machine just yet. Once you’ve learned the basics techniques and a few simple stitches you’ll be able to apply them to a huge variety of different sewing and craft projects. Not to mention you’ll be able to do simple re-fashions and repairs on your clothes, such as sewing on buttons that have fallen off.
I love hand sewing. It’s so tactile and I find there’s something quite calming and therapeutic about it. It does require patience though, especially when you’re just learning. So here are 7 tips to help you on your way:
- You will need some basic tools. Here’s my guide to the basic sewing kit.
- You will need scraps of fabric to practice stitches on. Firm cotton fabrics are the easiest to sew (avoid slippery fabrics as they can be a bit tricky). You could pick up some cheap second hand fabrics, such as old pillow cases, or you could buy some cute craft fabric from your local fabric store. My mum taught me to sew on scraps of gingham with a very, very small check pattern. She taught me to use the grid of the checks as guidelines to keep my stitches straight and even.
- Threading the needle is pretty easy once you’ve had a bit of practice. Always cut the thread with sharp scissors so you have a neat, smooth end to poke through the eye of the needle. Also, when thread is made it’s twisted and smoothed in a certain direction. When you cut a length of thread, don’t thread the needle onto the freshly cut end as you’ll be pushing the needle against the twist of the thread and it’s more likely to fray. The other end of the thread will slide through the eye more smoothly. An easy way to remember this is if you thread the needle before cutting the length of thread from the reel.
- Hand sewing can be done with either a single thread or a double thread. I prefer to use a double thread as it is stronger, unless I am sewing sheer or very light weight fabrics, in which case a single thread is more appropriate. To work with a double thread, simply thread the needle with one strand of thread, bring the two ends together and knot the together.
- You always need to anchor you stitching when you begin. This is usually done by tying a knot in the thread. Here’s a trick for tying knots, hold the tail of the thread against the back of the needle, wind the thread around the needle 2-3 times, pinch the needle between your thumb and forefinger where the thread is wrapped around, with you other hand, pull the needle through your thumb and forefinger, still firmly holding the thread there and a knot will form. This knot should be big enough to not pull through the fabric.
- For some types of work or fabric, a simple knot might be neither sufficient nor suitable to anchor your work. For example, a loosely woven fabric where the knot pulls through. In these instances, in addition to knotting the thread sew two tiny stitches on top of one another.
- When it comes to finishing off your work you need to secure it firmly so your stitches don’t come undone. After you’ve sewn your final stitch, sew three tiny stitches on top of one another (in an inconspicuous spot) and cut the thread close to the stitches.
I hope you’ve found this helpful. I’ll be posting tutorials soon of some of the basic hand sewing stitches and some fun and simple projects to use your new skills on.
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