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Learn Four Basic Hand Stitches

A pro shows how to sew four basic hand stitches: running stitch, basting stitch, backstitch, and pickstitch

Jun 14, 2018

Sewing expert Kenneth D. King shows how to work four basic hand stitches: the running stitch; its variant, the uneven basting stitch; the backstitch; and the backstitch variant, the pickstitch. He begins by showing a method for knotting the thread neatly and securely.

Even if you prefer to machine-sew your garments, you’ll find these stitches helpful for permanent seams, for temporary seams during fitting, and for attractively installing zippers, among many other purposes. They’re easy for beginners to learn and are mainstays of couture sewing, too.

Before you start hand-sewing, find out more about tools, supplies, and tips for success, in “Fundamentals of Hand Sewing.” When you’ve mastered these stitches, you’ll want to learn the fell stitch, the slipstitch, and the blind stitch.

For more videos on hand stitching, click on links below.

“Hand-Sew a Fell Stitch”

“Hand-Sew a Slipstitch and Blind Stitch”

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  1. User avater NancyPie25 June 15th

    I love doing the backstitch!!!

  2. user-6357421 June 16th

    Thank you for your clear and helpful demonstration of all
    the different stitches. So helpful.

  3. CaitlinnicRaighne June 18th

    I enjoy your videos so much. The pick stitch was enlightening. I had been doing it in reverse🤪 I do have a quick question. What brand and size needle do you prefer? Your needle seems to be longer than what I have been using. Thank you.

  4. LindaA June 26th

    I use the pickstitch to install linings and also to understitch the facings rather than machine stitch. I use #8 millinery needles, James Henning and Sons. Long, sharp thin needles are the trick.

  5. joylovestosew July 10th

    I am a beginner. Could you please show how you begin all of your stitches in lieu of just picking up after the needle is already inserted in the fabric? Please and thank you!

  6. CarolFresia July 10th

    Hi, JoyLovestoSew. You can begin the stitch in a number of ways. Knot the thread, as Kenneth shows, then simply bring the needle up from the wrong side of the fabric still the knot stops it. Then stitch. In some cases, it's better to start with the needle between fabric layers so the knot is hidden. As you gain more experience, you'll figure out where and when to hide that knot.
    Carol Fresia
    Threads Senior Technical Editor

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