Tutorial: 5 basic stitches

You know how it is, looking on t’web at the things people sew. Invariably they’re perfect, all delicate seams and filtered to within an inch of their hems. And yeah, that’s cool. The problem is that it can make sewing look like some exclusive club sponsored by Mollie Makes. Well, bugger that!

Fact is that all of us were shit at sewing at one point or another. For all of the cracking things us sewists make there are dozens of items that end up in the scrap bag because they are back to front, cut too small or wonkily stitched. No one ever admits to it, though, which means it’s a world that’s even less accessible to wannabe sewists.

Well that stops right here (she says, adjusting her cape and leaping from a skyscraper). This is the first of many tutorials that I’ll run on this site, all explaining the sewing basics and in terms that won’t make you weep with confusion. And what better time to start than now? Gird yourselves, then, because you are about to learn five basic hand-sewing stitches. Ready? Really? Here we go then…

Anchoring stitches

Unless you want your hand-stitched hot pants to come apart when you’re appearing in a tampon ad, this is how to stop your thread from going awol.

First, work left to right (apologies to the left handed who may want to do this the other way around). Put the needle through the fabric from front to back and then though again about 5mms along to the left. You’ll have a stitch at the back of the fabric.




Then return to the needle hole you first made, go through to the back and out to the front at the second needle hole. Draw the thread until it’s snug (no puckering please!) and BOOM! That’s how you secure your thread!






This puppy is cracking for really secure seams.

Work left to right again, starting with the anchoring stitch you’ve just seen. Now, move left, a couple of millimetres along the front of the fabric. Push the needle through to the back of the fabric and out again, also left, at a distance equal to the last stitch.




Moving right, put the needle through the hole at the end of the last complete stitch. You should now have a line of continuous stitches. Then just repeat the process, bringing the needle up from the back to the front another equal distance to the left of this little stitch line. When you’ve finished secure it with an anchoring stitch. Easy right?



Running stitch

Now this is a right all-rounder and brilliant for gathering.

First, make an anchoring stitch, working left to right again. Then put the needle through the fabric from front to back a few millimetres to the left. Then just bring the needle back up at an equal distance to the left.




Again, to the left, put the needle through the fabric from front to back and keep on that way until you’ve completed whatever you are working on. Just secure it with an anchoring stitch at the end and you’re done.





Tacking stitch

Don’t fret about this fancy term. It’s just way of using thread to transfer pattern markings to fabric and saves you cutting the fabric or marking it with pens and chalks. These stitches are usually removed at the end of the project too so I do them in shouty thread that I can see for miles. Really, it’s piss easy.

Just tie a knot at the end of your thread and start working from left to right, pushing the needle through the fabric from front to back etc in equal sized gaps and stitches.





And when you’ve finished the area you’re working on just tie another knot and you’re done!





Whip stitch

This is for those evil bastards of fabrics that fray and you use it to neaten raw edges.

Just tie a knot in your thread and start working left to right. Bring the needle through the fabric, from back to front, a short distance from the raw edge. Take the needle and thread to the back of the fabric by wrapping it over the raw edge, pushing the needle through to the front a short distance to the left of the first needle hole. It should create a diagonal stitch (you should be able to see how it prevents fraying).


Keep on doing this, at equal distances, until you complete the edge. Just secure it with an anchoring stitch when you’re done!





And that’s it! Five stitches which make you look like you actually know stuff. You’re livin’ the dream Kraken lovers! Living the dream.