Stitching by Hand

Stitching by Hand
Stitching by hand requires the simplest of sewing notions – a variety of hand sewing needles, spooled threads of desired colors, straight pins or sewing clips to hold layers together (paper binder clips work well too), dressmaker shears and smaller sharp pointed scissors, of course fabric or clothing article to mend or alter, patience, time, and simple knowledge of just a few common sewing stitches.

The straight or running stitch is the simplest of all to master and the most versatile - great for any seaming, temporary basting of layers together, gathering and topstitching. The length of each running stitch depends on the thickness of the fabric, how permanent the stitching is to hold the layers together, and what spacing for the stitches is desired per inch or span of measurement. The stitch is constructed in an under and over evenly spaced pattern giving the stitches a running dash look. Long running stitches can be used to gather fabric or for basting - briefly holding layers together. Short spaced stitches are used to hold layers together for lasting seams.

Topstitching is a running stitch deliberately meant to be visible on the outside of a garment or in quilting and applique work. Typically seen on garment edges such as necklines, collar edges and hems and a garment’s front opening (facing) edges.

Whipstitch – reinforces fabric edges to prevent fraying or to butt two fabric edges together. It is a simple way to stitch by continuously looping the thread over the fabric edges or to have two fabric edges meet. Sometimes the whipstitch is referred to as an overcast stitch.

Blanket stitch – a functional yet decorative stitch that appears as a series of parallel stitches placed perpendicular to a fabric edge and as a line along the very edge. Often seen in contrasting colors to the fabric as a design element. Can be used to secure the edges of a buttonhole when very small closely spaced stitches are used. Frequently used as blanket edging.

Backstitch – a stitch first made backward to the direction of sewing and forming a no spacing unbroken line. This is a very sturdy stitch. In embroidery it is called an outline or stem stitch.

A few things of interest when considering hand verses machine sewing:

A spiral bound book on hand sewing techniques, allowing for the pages to lay flat when reading, is always helpful as a reference guide as there are many different stitches performing many functions that can be applied to a variety of fabrics and leathers.

Hand sewing can be a reflective individual or a socializing group activity.

Learning how to sew by hand is a confidence building activity as expertise is acquired over time.

Any sewing, whether by hand or machine is a creative, expressive outlet.

Hand sewing is both art and craft practiced from time immemorial.

Sewing by hand often allows for a project to be highly portable, as fabric, scissors, needles, pins and threads can be compactly gathered up for travel.

Save on mending repairs, hemming, simple alterations, or just sewing back on a wayward button.

Sewing by hand, surprisingly benefits our intellectual, emotional and social wellbeing.

It is noteworthy that haute couture custom made clothing is most often constructed entirely by using hand stitching with extreme attention to every stitching detail using time-honored techniques. Haute (elegant) couture (dressmaking or sewing) is truly custom sewing as artistry.

Sew happy, sew inspired.

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