Hand Stitch Types

There are many types of hand stitching techniques, but 5 of them are the most important ones to me. Most of your DIY projects will involve them. So here are the 5 hand stitching techniques you should know.

Basting Stitch

This stitch is meant to hold the pieces temporarily together so that they don’t shift when you are sewing. Use a contrasting thread when basting as you will be able to remove the basting stitches easily once you do the permanent sewing.

A sewing machine can be used for a basting stitch, but handmade sewing is always better. For instance, when you want to match a plaid or stripe across the seam, the precision of doing it by hand will give you better alignment.

basting stitch

  1. Weave your needle in and out from fabric to create the dashed line look.
  2. Use ¼” to ½” stitches. There should be equal spaces in between.
  3. Don’t lock the stitch at the end or beginning.

Running Stitch

running stitch

You have to do the running stitch in the same way as a basting stitch. But the stitches need to be smaller and there should be a locking stitch and the beginning or end. There should be evenly spaced, short stitches about ⅛”. The size should depend on the fabric. They should be wider for heavy fabrics, and smaller for lightweight fabric.


This makes the seam very tight. It is used often on dense or heavy fabrics for seam repairing. Start at the opening’s right end, and work to the left.


  1. Bring up the needle through the fabric – point 1.
  2. Insert the needle and go down at 2, and bring it up through 3.
  3. Insert needle to go down through 4.
  4. Repeat till you reach the opening’s end.

You can learn many sewing tips, how to make dresses, trims, patches, and work with buttons and more at this sewing and fabric website.

Overcast Stitch

This stitch is for finishing the cut edges on the fabric that can ravel, like what happens in linen. You can also use it for closing a tear when you are mending it. Many also use this technique for closing an opening that is to stay hidden.

overcast stitch

  1. Start on the side of the edge you want done.
  2. Make several diagonal and equally-spaced stitches that will loop around the fabrics edge.
  3. Closeness of the stitches will depend on the task. For instance, it should be very close for mending.

Ladder or Slip Stitch

This is the most useful hand stitch. Slip stitches are for creating an invisible seam between a flat edge or a folded edge, or two folded edges. This technique can be used to close linings, for bindings, for applying appliqué invisibly, and other projects.

slip stitch

  1. Iron to make the folds flat.
  2. Make the threaded needle go into the fold for hiding the knot.
  3. It should come out through the folded edge.
  4. Now make it go directly into the opposite fold from the one it came out.
  5. Slide it through the opposite fold approximately ⅛” – ¼”. Push the needle out.
  6. The needle must come up from where it came out. Insert into the opposite fold.
  7. Continue this pattern till you reach the opening’s end.

Here are many other stitching techniques you can learn.