Basic Sewing Stitches


There are many different kinds of stitches so Threaded Sewing needleI thought it would be useful to have a page detailing the basic sewing stitches for beginners. Some can be done on your sewing machine and some are for hand stitching.

TIP – Always make sure your needle is sharp and clean whether you’re using a sewing machine or hand sewing. Old rusty needles just don’t cut the mustard!

A point to remember is that the same stitch can have different names, for example, “basting” is the same as “tacking”. I was taught to tack and had no idea what basting was when I first saw it on a pattern. To make it easy I’ve found some video clip tutorials, click on the blue text for the link.

  • Basting/TackingThis is used to temporarily join pieces together before sewing the permanent stitch or to gather fabric.
  • Running StitchThe technique is the same as basting only you do shorter stitches closer together. I’ll use it if I want tighter gathers than you get with the basting stitch. The video shows it being used for embroidery but it’s a good, easy to understand demonstration.
  • Back Stitch It looks the same as the basic stitch on your sewing machine and is stronger than the running stitch. You can adjust the size according to the needs of the project and fabric . Again, the video shows it being used for embroidery.
  • Zig Zag –  Even the most basic machine will have this stitch and it’s generally used to finish off a seam to prevent the ends fraying. I sometimes use it as a decorative stitch to embellish my creations. The video shows how to use the zig zag stitch to finish off a seam.
  • Overcast – This is the hand stitch used for finishing off a seam instead of the zig zag stitch. It can also be used as another way of joining 2 pieces together.
  • Hem Stitch – Hand stitch used for sewing a hem that is barely visible on the right side.
  • Blind Hem Stitch – Some sewing machines come with a special foot and settings for sewing a blind hem. Again, this is for sewing an invisible hem. The video is for a Janome sewing machine, check the instruction manual for the correct settings on your machine

These are the most commonly used basic sewing stitches and really all you need for most projects.


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