Sunday, June 12, 2011

Back to Basics: Lesson 1- hand sewing

We are often asked here at Just Fabrics, time and time again, about the sewing basics. As our first Google maps review suggests, many of our customers lack basic sewing, knitting and craft skills. If you are unable to visit our store and ask our friendly staff for advice, we are going to go through the basics right here on this blog over the next few weeks. Every week we will post a 'back to basics' article to help answer all of your sewing, knitting and craft questions by taking you back through the basics.
We are going to start with hand sewing.

Everyone should learn to hand sew. Even some die-hard sewing machine users can sometimes lack basic hand sewing skills. It is a great skill to have; from simple repairs to dressmaking the hand sew will always come in handy. So let's begin!

The Fantastic Four
From clothes to home furnishings all your need is these four stitches to get you through and here they are:


Do you need to put two pieces of fabric together quickly? Then you need to baste!
Basting is the technique of choice when you need to put a quick hem together but when you are not sure of the total length and so don’t want to commit to a permanent stitch. It’s kind of like a marking your fabric.
Basting is a really simple technique and great news for those of us with little skill and time. There is no need to be detailed or to be a perfectionist – all you need to do is secure the fabric – you don’t need to worry about the look of the stitch.Get a standard needle and threat together. You can do away with the knot on the thread – it will make it easier for you when you pull them out at the end anyway. Simply insert the needle and start creating simple stitches, about 1 inch long. Secure the end with a loose knot – you don’t want your hard work to fall out!


Backstitch is your number one stitch. How do you spot it on a fabric? It looks perfect and neat from the top, with a seemingly continuous line. However, from underneath the stitches look like they are double-spaced. This is really one stitch that you should have in your skill set. The great news is that perfect sewing like this is relatively easy to master. All you need is some simple thread and a standard universal needle. Practice on a spare bit of fabric before you commit to your project piece.
Start by inserting the needle from the underside of the fabric and pull the thread through until you feel the knot meeting the fabric edge. Bring the needle back, approximately 3-4mm and insert it through the topside of the fabric. Then simply put the needle in through the end of the first stitch and out a stitch ahead continuing until you run out of fabric to work with!The backstitch is a strong and reliable stitch. For that reason it should be your stitch of choice when putting hems together on garments.

Running Stitch A running stitch is your saviour! When you have been saddled with clothing repairs you simply need to enlist the running stitch to help you out. Just like the others, this is really simple to master.
Running stitch is slightly similar to basting. The only difference is that the stitches are shorter, even and slightly more precise. This time thread the needle and thread, making sure that you knot the end. Insert the needle from the top to the bottom and then weave the needle in and out of the fabric 2-3 times. Pull the thread all the way through although do so with caution – you want to avoid that hideous puckering.


Want to stop your fabric edges from fraying over time? You need to get to grips with over-casting. Get a needle and thread, with a knot at the end and insert the needle from the bottom of your fabric. Then pull the thread through the knot, inserting the needle from the wrong side again a few millimeters to the left of the knot. Then pull the thread all the way through – you want it to be secure but don’t be too heavy-handed. Continue all the way round your hem. If your fabric is prone to fraying you will need to make sure that your stitches are as small as possible.

Different sized needles and threads of different strength and colour are available in store. If you would like to purchase any of of the products you have seen on this blog, you can order by phoning 01634 827063.

Or come and visit us 109 The Pentagon Shopping Centre, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4HW. If you are still unsure as to how to find us you can look on Google maps by clicking this link.   

For any queries please email:

So there you have it! You can now hand stitch until the cows come home. Happy Sewing!

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