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Hand-sewing: how to do slipstitch, hemstitch and running stitch

123 hand sewing with thimble - Hand-sewing: how to do slipstitch, hemstitch and running stitch - Craft -

This is a selection of the stitches most often used in sewing and in this book. It is important to make the stitches an even size and to keep an even tension.

Work stitches with a thread that matches the fabric. However, you can use a contrasting colour to make temporary stitches easier to see when it’s time to remove them.

The following instructions are for a right-handed person; simply reverse them if you are left-handed.

Scroll down for instructions and diagrams.



Also occasionally known as even slipstitch, this is an almost invisible stitch that is used to join two folded edges together, for example when attaching curtain lining to the main fabric or when closing the edges of a mitred corner or of an opening.

1 Working from right to left, secure thread on the wrong side. Bring the needle out through one of the folded edges, then insert it into the opposite folded edge, no more than 1-2mm further along. Run the needle through the fold and bring it out 5mm further along.

2 Repeat on the opposite edge, and continue working in this way, closing the two edges together.



Also known as uneven slipstitch or slip hemming, this stitch is used to hold a folded edge to a flat piece, for example a hem. It is almost invisible on the right side of the fabric.

1 Working from right to left, secure the thread on the inside of the fold. Bring the needle out through the fold and insert it in the flat piece, either directly below or up to 1-2mm further along. Pick up only two or three threads.

2 Insert the needle back down into the folded edge, no more than1-2mm further along. Run the needle through the fold and bring it out 5mm-1cm further along. Continue along the hem in the same way, making sure the stitches are not pulled too tightly or the fabric will look puckered on the right side.


Running stitch

This straight stitch is used for gathering.

1 Working from right to left, secure the thread. With the needle pointed left, weave it in and out of the fabric, keeping the stitches small and even, and the spaces between them the same size as the stitches.

2 Pull the thread through and then repeat, continuing in this way along the stitching line.


These instructions are taken from 'The Home-sewn Home' by Vanessa Arbuthnott with Gail Abbott (Cico Books, £16.99).  

You might also like…

See all of our Vanessa Arbuthnott patterns
Basic embroidery stitches
Read up on more sewing guides and advice here


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