3 Basic Stitches For Hand Sewing

If you are new to hand sewing and are wondering where to start, well, you came to the right article! Learning the basic stitches is where the magic of sewing begins. There are 3 basic stitches for hand sewing that you need to be familiar with. These are very useful for repairing rips or holes on your favorite garments, or when making simple sewing projects. Here are the top 3 hand sewing stitches that will help make your most-used clothes last longer than expected. Are you ready to know what they are? Continue reading to find out!

3 Basic Stitches For Hand Sewing

Sewing machines help make sewing faster, but sometimes sewing by hand can be simpler and quicker. To prove it, let me share with you what happened during one of my little boy ‘s baseball games. I was cheering so hard, I accidentally ripped the crease of my white button-down shirt right at the armpit! (Blush!) It was a good thing that I had my trusty teensy-weensy sewing kit with me that I carry in my bag. Before anybody could notice, I went back to the car and did a quick backstitch to repair the tear. After a minute, I rushed back to the game and didn’t miss a single swing!

Hand stitching can be done in a flash and is really easy to learn. You can also slip to advanced sewing techniques, once you know the basics. But before I get carried away with all the chit-chat, let’s get your needles out and ready! 🙂

1. The Backstitch

Start with a single piece of thread and knot one end. Start working from the bottom, or the opposite side of the fabric, and insert the needle. Pull it through until the knot touches the fabric (the knot will be on the bottom). Go over a quarter of an inch and pull the needle through from the top to the bottom. You are then going to go back and insert your needle through the fabric halfway from where you are to the knot where you started – basically, you will go back 1/8 of an inch. Pull the needle through. From here you are repeating these stitches: go over a 1/4 inch and pull the needle through the fabric. Go back 1/8 of an inch and pull the needle through. Repeat until you get to the end.

Here’s a short video by Wendi Gratz that shows us on how to backstitch:

The backstitch is a strong stitch because your stitches will overlap each other on one side of the fabric. The backstitch will appear different on both sides of the fabric. On one side, the backstitch should have as many small, evenly-spaced stitches so close together that they will look like one continuous line. On the opposite side, you will notice that the stitches overlap at the ends because the stitches on this side are twice the length as the ones on the other side.

2. The Running Stitch

Start with a single piece of thread and knot one end. Start working from the wrong side of the fabric. Insert your needle and pull it through. Go over a quarter of an inch and insert the needle halfway. Then angle the needle so that it comes back up through the fabric a quarter of an inch from where you put the needle in. Pull the needle and thread through. If you find it easier to keep the fabric smooth, you can place the fabric on the table and hold it down with one hand while you pull the needle through with your other hand. Your needle will now be on the right side of the fabric. Repeat the process of placing the needle in and over and then pulling the thread through.

Again by Wendi Gratz, here’s a video on how to embroider using running stitch:

The running stitch is used for hemming or repairing clothes, to join fabric together, and for top stitching. It is the simplest stitch to learn because the stitch just goes in and out of the fabric. Unlike the backstitch, the running stitch does not double back on any stitches.

3. The Basting Stitch

Start the basting stitch just like you would start the running stitch, except that you won’t form any knots at the end of the thread. First, insert the needle on the wrong side of your fabric and pull it through. Leave a few inches of thread on the wrong side of the fabric and hold in place with your fingers, so that the thread doesn’t come out. This is called the “thread tail”. Then from the right side of the fabric, place your needle halfway through. Angle it so that you can bring the needle back up – it can go over as much as one inch. Pull your needle through, but be sure to hold the thread tail in place so that you don’t pull it out. Repeat the stitch as needed. When you no longer need the basting stitch, simply pull the thread out to remove the stitch.

Here’s a video on how to sew basting stitches from expertvillage

The basting stitch is used as a temporary stitch to hold multiple layers together or to gather fabric together instead of using pins or needles to hold the fabric in place. It is much like the running stitch, except that the stitches are much longer.


Being a newbie to hand sewing and practicing these stitches takes a bit of getting used to in order to work faster with this craft. To some, making a straight stitch may come as a breeze and proceed to embroidery, but to some, it’s a struggle. But don’t get discouraged! Continue on sewing one stitch at a time until your hand gets the rhythm. As what Dory, Disney’s funny little blue fish, always says, “Just keep sewing! Just keep sewing!”. (Or was that swimming?) LOL And hey! Don’t be shy and show us the stitches that you started. Keep us posted by placing your sewing progress on the comments below. I’m excited to know how far along you’ve reached!


Would you like to learn more sewing projects? Check out one over here, now!

One thought on “3 Basic Stitches For Hand Sewing

  1. Charlotte H says:

    Thanks for the up close view of sewing the different basic running stitch, back stitch, basting stitch Most of the time just written view given. It’s great seeing the stitch being sewn!!!

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