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Basic sewing stitches

Sewing toys almost always requires a few hand stitches. Here are the ones I use most often. Note that I'm definitely not a video pro, and you can probably find explanations on the web without too much difficulty. Hope my graphs help. If you're looking for some knots tutorials, you can find that here.

Sewing thread

First of all, I already wrote a little about sewing thread in the glossary, but here are some tips. Choose quality sewing thread, that means nothing from the "dollar store" or from a mixed box on cardboard spools. Also, although old sewing thread on wooden spools are beautiful, I do not recommend their use, old threads are often brittle, not as strong as in their youth. Basically choose yarn from a sewing store, after that you prefer it 100% cotton or polyester, coarser or finer, it's really your choice. Also, if you're a beginner, choosen the same color as your fabric can help a lot. Since the thread will blend more with the fabric you won't see imperfections like you would with a contrasting thread.

a handmade fox plushie with hands embroidering his nose

Thread length

Second little note and I can't stress that enough : don't take a meter long thread! And it doesn't matter how long you have to sew. It is better to knot in the middle and start again with a new thread than to fight with a long thread. Not convinced? A long thread is 95% more likely to tangle than a short one (very serious statistic taken with from own experience 😉). When you use a long thread it may break more easily since each time you pull you weaken it a little. Finally, protect your arm, your wrist, even your shoulder, by choosing a thread of normal length, so by making smaller gestures (meaning you shouldn't be reaching for the moon everytime you pull your thread through the fabric).

Trust me, even if you hate threading your needle, save yourself the trouble. My general rule is a thread as long as my forearm, i.e. I hold the end of the thread between my fingers and stretch my forearm to cut my thread at my elbow.

The front stitch (classic)

I don't have a graph for this point because it is very simple. Simply stitch the fabric through and out of the fabric. There are two ways to sew the front stitch. The first is to plant the needle several times in and out before pulling the thread. The result is a generally longer stitch: I use it when I want to go fast, or just prefix fabrics together. The second way involves stitching in the fabric to come out on the other side, to then come back a few millimeters further and so on. I hope the videos will help to understand better.

The back stitch

backstitch graphic to help understand the sewing stitch

The backstitch makes a full line. It is the best stitch for sewing by hand and it is very practical in embroidery. Once your starting knot is made, prick your needle to form the first point and come out 4 millimeters further. Stitch at the end of the first stitch and this time come out 4 millimeters from the end of the second stitch. Here a video is worth a thousand words.

The ladder stitch

ladder stitch graphic to help understand the sewing stitch

The ladder stitch joins two fabrics together neatly. It is often used to close openings or to make appliqués. Well controlled, it is almost invisible. To join 2 pieces of fabric, you must enter and exit the needle on one side of the fabric then repeat the operation on the other side. By pulling on the thread, the 2 pieces come together. Like its name recalls this stitch forms lines that ressemble a ladder.

The whip stitch

whip stitch graphic to help understand the sewing stitch

The whip stitch can also be used to join 2 fabrics. It is more apparent than the ladder stitch but well done it can be just as beautiful. To achieve this, we prick from one wall to the other to join them together. If you sew a little at an angle, your stitch will be perpendicular to the seam (as in the graph), if you sew rather straight your stitch will be oblique. Both ways give beautiful results especially if the stitch is regular. It can also be used to make appliqués.

The satin stitch

satin stitch graphic to help understand the sewing stitch

The satin stitch is used to fill shapes. It is usually used in embroidery. You have to stitch from one side to the other of the shape you want to fill, making the stitches close enough so that you can no longer see the fabric underneath.

That’s it for my basic sewing stitches, hope it helps.


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