A Complete guide of 9 Basic types of hand stitches.

Type of Hand Stitches

Hand stitching goes back to prehistoric times when people had the need to cover themselves by sewing pieces of animal hide or fur together. Millions of years later now, hand stitching has become an art, and also a skill. The invention of sewing machines helped accentuate the process of stitching clothes but hand stitching still thrives as an interesting and intricate detailed field in the world of textiles.

The article focuses on types of hand stitches you absolutely need to know.

Basic Sewing Stitches

For a beginner, these 10 basic stitches are the most essential for you to get sewing. To practice these, you don’t need to go out and buy fancy sewing kits, a thread and a needle will do just fine.

A very handy tip for all the beginners out there: thread the needle and tie a knot at the end of the thread before you start.

  1. Running stitch

This is the most basic stitch which is used to mend clothes generally. If you are familiar with sewing at all, chances are you know this stitch already.

From the back of the fabric (inside out) insert the threaded needle and bring it out.

Push the needle back in about a centimeter away until it comes out all the way on the other side.

Repeat the steps by bringing the needle back up along the direction of the cloth.

Running stitch

  1. Basting Stitch

This stitch is just the running stitch only longer. Instead o f pushing the needle back in a centimeter away, push it in ½ or ¼ inch away from each other.  This is pretty simple and fun to do once you get into practice.

Basting Stitch

  1. Diagonal Basting

This is a series of horizontal parallel stitches, mainly used to hold more than one piece of fabric together. This produces diagonal floats of thread on the top most layer of the fabric.

Working from the bottom to the top of the fabric, make a horizontal stitch through all the fabric layers, move the needle up to where you need the next stitch and make another horizontal stitch.

Repeat the process until you reach the end of the fabric.

If necessary, make multiple layers of the basting to ensure strength so that the fabrics hold on to each other.

Diagonal Basting

  1. Backstitch

As the name itself suggests, this is a stitch made backward to the general direction of stitching. These stitches will not show on the right side of the garment. Being the most durable and strongest stitch, it is an excellent choice for seaming.

Push the needle in where you want to start a seam or join two fabrics.

Bring the needle back up through both the fabrics right in front of where you started.


Now the needle goes back where it came in and out of the fabric to make the first stitch.

Bring the needle back up the distance or a little further apart, it depends on how you want it.

Backstitch 2

This method produces the strongest stitch and resembles a machine sewn fabric.

 Backstitch 3

  1. Catch Stitch

Mostly used on lined garments, this stitch is used to keep the layers of fabric flat against one another like a hem or a seam.

For these stitches the recommended distance is about 3/8 to ½ an inch apart.

The needle works from left to right and you start by inserting the needle into the fold of the hem between the layers so the knot is not visible.

Catch Stitch

Come out with the needle a little below the fold of the hem.

Pull the thread out to ensure that the knot is firmly placed and the thread is fully taut and tense.

Catch Stitch 2

Insert the needle above the fold of the hem to the right, moving from right to left. Catch only a small area of the fabric so that you can only see a tiny dot of thread on the right side of the fabric.

Pull the needle through so that the thread is going towards the right at an angle.

Catch Stitch 3

Parallel to the first stitch, reinsert the needle into the hem but this time only catching the hem and not through the whole fabric.

Catch Stitch 4

Pull the needle through from the stitch in the previous step and you will see an ‘X’ appear just above the fold of the hem.

Catch Stitch 5

Repeat the process along the whole hem.

  1. Whip Stitch

After threading the needle and knotting it at the end, Insert the needle up through the top layer about 1/8 inch in between so the stitch is not visible from the top of the fabric.

Next step is to the wrap the thread around the edges of the fabric, to do so, insert the needle through both layers of the fabric so that the needle almost comes in line with where it was in the previous step. It is important to make the thread taut enough but not too much to create dents in the garment.

Next, insert the needle through the same hole as the first stitch but this time make sure your needle is at an angle so that it is around 1/8 an inch away from the first stitch and the fabric.

 Whip Stitch

Now insert the needle again through the fabric directly under where the thread is coming out through the top layer. Maintain the angle so that this next stitch is also 1/8 inch away from the previous one, making it parallel.

Repeat the steps throughout the whole garment and the final result will be as follows.

Whip Stitch 2

  1. Featherstitch

This stitch is a decorative stitch usually placed with other garment embellishments like the French knot.  This is the most popular stitch in embroidery and is used for an edge finish or surface embroidery.

It is suggested to make four parallel lines and have them labeled for your convenience as a beginner.

First off, you need to make a loop between two parallel lines by inserting the needle through one and bringing it out the other.

Next, bring the needle up again right at the centre of the loop but a little lower than where the needle was inserted first.

Move again to the right or where the needle was inserted the second time to generate a loop.

Continue working your way through by interlocking the loops and creating a beautifully ornamented embroidery sequence.


  1. Hemstitch

This stitch basically tidies up the edges of your garment once you are done with your project.

The goal here is to pull all the threads together and create bead like openings to tidy up the edges and give a neat effect.

First of all decide where you want the hem to be in relation to your design and score it along the edges.

Next, hold the hem horizontally with your thumb and lay the end of your thread in the fold of the hem.

Work from left to right and make a small backstitch to anchor your thread just through the hem.

Pick up two threads from your sewing, and gently pull picking two threads from the hem to the right of the first stitch.

Move on to the next two threads from your work pull gently and then pick up two threads from the hem.

This stitch is usually used to embellish open hand stitched work, hems of clothing or household linens like napkins.


  1. Slip Stitch

For this stitch, thread your needle and fold the hem. Insert the needle on the inside of the hem and pull the thread taut.

At this point the thread will only be visible from the top of the hem.

Now, insert the needle inside the main cloth catching a few threads and pull the thread. Make sure you don’t pull it too tight as to tear up the garment. This creates a ‘dot’ into the fabric.

Next, insert the needle into the fold just to the left of where the dot is. Let it go into the fold a little distance and back out. The dot will then be right in the middle of where the thread goes in and out of the fold.

Repeat the steps, keeping all the dots in line until you reach the end of the fold.

More stitches out there

We are all thankful for the sewing machines which have taken a great load off of our backs. But this advancement does not mean that we can forsake an elegant skill. Embroidery and crochet along with sewing is a good, creative hobby and a great cognitive skill.

This article has covered a few basic stitches and there still are many stitches as this is a vast field. Some stitches like the Satin Stitch and the French knot are delicate embroidery stitches which are beautiful and decorate any garment. The chain stitch, the lazy daisy, seed stitch and herringbone stitch are a few examples of advanced embroidery stitches which a sewer should definitely explore.


Please enter your name here
Please enter your comment!