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How to do a Blanket Stitch
Hand stitches are crucial in good finishing; when sewn properly, they are as strong as machinesewn stitches, and you can do them almost as quickly. But many people avoid them and try to always use machines.
A few words on thread before I begin: Any thread longer than the distance from your hand to your elbow will tangle when you work and slow you down. I’ve actually clocked this; it’s faster to re-thread than to fight a long length of thread.
Before they sew, some sewers wax their thread to strengthen it and make it easier to work with. I don’t, but I do iron it to take out any extra twists. When you’re buying thread, beware of bargains. those spools you get ten for a dollar aren’t for fine sewing. Good-quality thread allows you to work faster, and it’s more durable.
You should also always keep a good supply of sharp, high-quality needles. Preferences in lengths and diameters vary; my favorite is a no. 10 milliner’s needle because it’s slightly longer than a regular hand-sewing needle; it feels better in my hand (probably because I’m used to long beading needles). Experiment and find the needle that suits you best. With good thread and your favorite needle, you’re ready to master the blanket stitch.
The blanket stitch is used decoratively as an edge stitch-an overcast stitch for a beautiful seam finish-or an appliqué stitch to apply one layer flat against another. You can vary the stitch depth and length according your taste and the thickness of thread used. This stitch can be worked edge-side up (demonstrated here) or with the edge-side down.
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Please post detailed instructions on darning. My mother could darn a sock so it barely showed but my darning is not nearly so good. It seems to me that she did not use all of the strands of the darning thread and I think my darning thread may be too thick. I use wool darning yarn.
I have been sewing for 45 years and your blanket stitch looks beautiful but can you make it look the same with a fabric that does not have a even and open grain? I have tried many fabrics over the years and the simple cottons are the hardest, in my opinion.
I use a stitch guide line. A long basting stitch that's easy to pull out. I use a bright color so I can see it.
It's helps with the spacing and depth of stitch. You can skip basting stitches if you want more spacing between the blanket stitches.
Tedd1y's comment is interesting & also leads me to what might be an interesting article or series for Threads. In this economy, mending and fixing things is as important sometimes, as the creative process in creating something new. Our old skills (darning, reweaving, patching, taking in & letting out without showing previous seam lines) might need refreshing. I for one, agree with tedd1y about darning but also would be very interested in the other areas as well with comments about various fabrics. Thank you
Is the same stitch as the old fashioned buttonhole stitch? I have not had time to sew much for a few years now; I am so eager to get back to "stitching" and keep up with the "blogs" and comments. I have not done buttonholes in ages, but this blanket stitch seems familiar to me.
I agree with teddly some instructions on darning and patching would be great.
(1) The first sentence of instructions: "Secure the thread at the edge of the fabric." is not shown. Since this stitch often goes all the way around a blanket or opening, I've always had an issue making/getting the begininning and ending of the thread to be less visible--it would be nice to have some help here. We can't see how that thread is secured in the photos.
(2) I agree with Tedd1y & NancyT comments about detailed instructions on darning/weaving, etcetera. It would have great application on vintage clothing as well.
I agree with dnjmama and others who questioned how to start and stop this stitch. This stitch's original use was to secure or protect the non-selvage edges of blankets. That is: things that have both sides visible and no fold or hem on the edges where you can hide thread ends, knots and lock stitches. Like the fleece muffler I wanted to make last year. Just the fleece and a nice decorative blanket stitch around the edge, right? Its in the UFO bin now because I couldn't figure out what to do when I'd used up one length of thread and needed to start another. How about some help with that please?
If you can crochet you can make a blanket stitch edging that does not require you to keep joining on a new thread. You will need a very fine crochet hook to pierce the fabric, or if your fabric is fine woven make the holes first with an unthreaded large size needle on your sewing machine, about half an inch from the edge & your chosen stitch length. Then using the crochet hook you just pull a loop of your chosen blanket stitching thread up through the hole until it reaches the edge of your fabric, hook another loop through, make one or two chain according to your desired stitch spacing and then dip your crochet hook down into the fabric again to form another blanket stitch. Yes, this does make a double legged blanket stitch, with a chained edge, but is very quick to do & no need to keep starting a new thread. To finish off cut thread & pull through the last chain, thread a needle & make a stitch around your begining stitch & fasten both ends off securely, hidden in fold if you have made one. WARNING: do not use this edging on a baby's blanket. I had to rescue my youngest from the unravelled thread she had managed to wind around her neck when a commercially made blanket with this finish came undone!
So I know how to do a blanket stitch already. What I have problems with is running out of thread and needing to add more. How do we do this seamlessly?
Let’s see if I can help with some of your questions: A blanket stitch does trim blanket edges, but it also trims garment edges. That’s the application that’s intended here. However, your questions on how to knot the threads at the beginning, end, and in the middle are good. Kenneth D. King is unavailable, so let me try to answer.
I did some research and, as always happens, I made discoveries along the way. First, a blanket stitch started out as a primitive stitch with utilitarian purposes. It has become almost iconic for country-style finishing. When used on a blanket in earlier times, the blanket edge was often rolled over so there was a double layer under the stitching and a place to start and end the stitching with a knot. If the fabric was a single layer, it was not at all unusual for the knot to be on the surface of the wrong side.
There are other ways to hide the knot if it offends you. If you are using blanket stitches on anything other than a single layer of fabric, always choose to hide the knots between layers. If you have a single layer and an unrolled edge, your fabric should be hefty enough to support the stitch, such as a blanket-weight wool or felt. In this case, you can conceal thread tails and knots easily. These are suggestions, as there are several ways of managing your knots and splices.
If you know you are going to have to piece your thread as you go, start in the middle of the row—not on the end. Tie a standard knot on your thread, insert it into the fabric, and slide it inside the fabric to the starting point, near the fabric’s edge. Don’t pull the knot up tight into the fabric; let it dangle a little. Stitch a neat knot on the edge. Make it small and as tidy as possible and then proceed with your stitching. If you have to tie off, tie another knot on the end of the horizontal stitch, bury the tail for a bit, and then bring it out away from the edge. Start the new thread the same way you did the first, and tie a second knot over the one you just ended. Then pull the tail to bring the knots under the surface, and proceed with your stitches. When you come to the end of that row, return to the beginning, start in the same way, and stitch to where you started. Tie on to the horizontal stitch, bury the thread, and bring it back to the surface away from the edge. Pull the thread to bury the knots, and clip the exposed tails.
This stitch is often used as and confused with the buttonhole stitch. With the blanket stitch a single thread runs along the edge. With the buttonhole stitch there’s an extra loop on the buttonhole stitch running along the edge to give it more protection.
Senior technical editor