Sewing Stitches

The Beginner’s Guide to Different Kinds of Stitches [Infographic]

Sewing Stitches

Before you can sew your own clothes, create crafts, and take on sewing projects, you have to learn the different kinds of stitches. From the various types of hand stitches to seam finishes, sewing instructor Cathy G. is here to help you master the basics. 

Modern sewing machines have all but eliminated the need for hand sewing. Gone are the days of constructing a garment by hand with a needle and thread. Still, every seamstress and tailor should have a handle on the basic types of hand stitches.

There are still many places where hand-sewn stitches are necessary for a high-quality finish. Moreover, there is something satisfying about adding the smooth finish of a hand-stitched hem or crocheted button loop, for instance. The joy of constructing something with your hands never gets old.

Personally, I use my sewing machine to build and construct garments, but I still hem and mend by hand. When it comes to hand-sewing stitches, we seamstresses need to consistently hone these skills if we wish to improve. I’m going to cover some basic hand-sewing and machine stitches in this article, starting with basic sewing tools, and then going into the different types of stitches.

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Tools of the Trade

To do any of the basic types of hand stitching, you’re going to need sewing tools like need high-quality needles, thread, and scissors. I cannot emphasize this enough. You could save a few bucks by going for the cheaper options but investing in good sewing tools will notably improve your sewing experience.

In addition, you may want to invest in a small ruler, tailor’s chalk or marking pencil, and straight pins. And depending on the types of finishing, you will also need both narrow and wide bias tape (I sometimes make my own to match or contrast with the garment or project), hem tape, narrow stretch lace, and.

Also, make sure you’re familiar with these basic sewing terms and vocabulary

The Various Types of Hand Stitches

sewing stitches

Not only are hand-sewn stitches great for a finishing touch, but they also can be more practical, since you may not always have a machine to use! Let’s take a look at 6 types of stitches you can sew by hand, so you can add a personalized touch to every stitch.

Running Stitch

The running stitch is one of the most basic types of hand stitches, and it has many variations. It’s used for gathering, mending, and tucking. Depending on its use, you can either knot your thread or take a couple of back stitches to lock it into place. In its longer form, it becomes a basting stitch.

Bring your needle through the fabric from the back (wrong side). Once the knot hits the fabric, make a stitch to the left or right. Bring the thread back up and repeat.

Basting Stitch

Use the same technique as the running stitch, but make longer stitches (between 1/4 inch and a 1/2 inch).

Today, we tend to pin baste more than hand baste our garments and projects, but hand basting can still be useful, especially with both lightweight (silk and chiffon) and heavyweight (leather and Melton) wools.


Before sewing machines, all clothes were built by layer upon layer of backstitches. This is one of the most practical types of hand stitches to know.

Working from left to right, take a small stitch, then insert the needle at the end of the previous stitch, bringing it out beyond the point where the thread emerges. Continue, always inserting the needle in the end of the previous stitch.

Catch stitch (Cross-Stitch)

You can use this stitch to to finish hems with fabric that doesn’t fray, and to tack facing invisibly.

Working from left to right, take tiny stitches on the hem, and then on the garment. Keep the stitches loose and even. They will appear as crosses on the wrong side and small stitches on the right.

Slip Stitch

This is my go-to stitch when it comes to hems and other finishes. It’s tidy and almost invisible, when it’s done right, and with care on both sides. Once you get the hang of it, this stitch will be one of your favorites, too.

Bring the needle through the fold of the hem and pick up a thread of fabric at the same point. Make the stitches about a 1/2 inch apart and fairly loose.

Blanket Stitch (Buttonhole Stitch)

If you want to sew eyelets or buttonholes by hand, learn the buttonhole stitch.

Secure the thread on the wrong side of the fabric, then with the right side facing upward, insert the needle from back to front through the fabric 1/8 inch from the edge. Wrap the working head around behind the eye end of the needle, then behind the point. Pull the needle through, bringing the knot to the fabric edge. Continue, making closely spaced stitches and knot.

The eyelet version is worked in a circle, with the wrapped edge to the inside; the blanket stitch variation has at least a 1/4 inch spacing between stitches.

Sewing Machine Stitches

sewing stitches

A sewing machine enables you to work more easily with heavier fabrics. You can also make your stitches stronger and more durable by using double thread with your machine. Using one of these magic machines can also be easier on your hands and eyes than sewing by hand. Let’s take a look at the different kinds of stitches you can do with a sewing machine!

Standard Forward / Backward Stitching

Begin straight stitching 1/8-3/8 inch from the fabric edge. Backstitch the forward stitch over the pinned or basted seam. Repeat the reverse stitch to finish.

You can use the straight stitch for seams, under stitching, stay stitching, and simple top stitching.

ZigZag Stitch

The zigzag stitch provides a clean finish to raw edges, and you can use it as a finish technique in combination with a stay stitching line. You can adjust both the width and length of this stitch to fit the needs of your project.


The good news is that most sewing machines can make buttonholes, either with a fully-automatic buttonhole foot attachment, or in the case of some mechanical and most computerized machines, a pre-programmed buttonhole.

Check your machine’s manual for these details.

Blind Hem Stitch

This sewing machine stitch consists of two or three straight stitches, and then one wide zigzag / catch stitch. Just as in the hand-stitched version of the blind hem, the fabric is folded under and away with the hem edge just projecting. The stitches show as a small dot on the right side.

There is a special machine foot that keeps the fabric folded away. This technique requires a lot of practice, and I recommend learning on lots of scrap fabric.

Once mastered, the blind hem stitch makes quick work of hemming pants and skirts.

Seam Finishes

sewing stitches

Related: Learn how to hem jeans by hand or machine


You can use a zigzag finish on most types of fabric. Once the seam is sewn and pressed open, zig stitch the raw edge and and trim away the excess. The width and length of this can vary depending on the fabric weight. There is a variation where the seam-edges are trimmed to half their depth, zigzagged together, and pressed to one side.

Turn and Stitch

This is mainly used on crisp cottons. Fold and press the seam, allowing a 1/4 inch, and machine stitch along the folded edge to finish. The seams are then pressed open, or to one side, depending on the pattern’s directions.

This creates a tidy finish and wears quite well.

Bias Tape

This is mostly used on unlined jackets and skirts.

Using purchased 5/8 inch bias tape, enclose the raw edge with the tape and stitch through all layers. Commercial bias tape
is slightly wider on one side; that side should be on the underneath the fabric.

You can also make your own bias tape in contrasting or matching fabric.

Pinked Seams

Pinked seams are the simplest of seam finishes. Using pinking shears, trim away as little of the seam allowance as possible. This version is best used on wools and polyester fleece and is not very hard wearing.

A better version of this finish is to machine stitch 1/4 inch from the seam, then trim the edges with pinking shears.

Hand Overcast

The hand overcast seam finish is used as an alternative to the zigzag stitch in small areas or on very thick

Taking very loose stitches, overcast the raw seam edges by hand.

Top Stitch

The top stitch creates a hard hem line, and can be used to strengthen a seam or as a decorative finish.

Press the seams opens and then stitch in place from the wrong side. The seam are often pinked beforehand, sometimes with a contrasting bobbin thread.

sewing stitchces

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Learning the Different Kinds of Stitches

Although we covered quite a few types of stitches, this is only the beginning. As you become more proficient with sewing stitches, you will discover even more techniques for you to master. A good general sewing book is an invaluable resource — find something that suits your learning style and stick with it. There are also a variety of resources available online.

Personally, I find photographs confusing and like to use line drawings instead. I also encourage you to try a new technique with every new project, this way, you’re continually expanding your repertoire and improving your skills. The more choices you have when you sew, the better your project will turn out.

While books and online resources are very helpful for beginners, the best way to learn sewing basics is through one-on-one lessons with a private sewing instructor. You can enjoy personalized lesson plans and get your sewing questions answered in a thorough way. Nothing beats the hands-on instruction that comes with a private sewing lesson. Search here for sewing teachers near you.

Do you have questions or feedback about these different kinds of stitches? Let us know in the comments below. Good luck and sew on!

Cathy GPost Author: Cathy G.
Cathy teaches sewing, and designs clothing and knitwear in Astoria, NY. An all-around crafty gal, she can drape and draft patterns, hand spin and weave, embroider, make lace, and style wigs. Cathy graduated with a degree in American Studies from Mount Holyoke College.  Learn more about Cathy here!

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6 Popular Spring Hobbies That Won’t Break the Bank

Happy first day of spring! Now that the days are longer and the weather is warmer, it’s the perfect time to start a new hobby. And don’t worry — there are tons of hobbies to choose from that don’t require expensive equipment or pricey commitments. In fact, many of these cheap hobbies can actually save you money in the long-run. Check out our recommendations below, and see what sparks your interest!

1. Languages

learn a language

Did you know that learning a second language can increase your brain power, expand your network of friends, and set you apart from other candidates in your job search? Plus, knowing how to speak the native language of a country is the easiest way to save money while traveling, since you’ll be able to quickly negotiate with locals and avoid tourist traps.

The best way to learn is by working with a language tutor, but there are also tons of free resources, apps, and online games that can supplement your lessons and help you improve even faster at no added cost. Additionally, language classes are among the easiest lessons to take online — saving you the commuting expenses and allowing you to learn from the comfort of your home.

2. Crocheting, Knitting, or Sewing


Why spend money on a tailor when you can hem your paints, repair holes, and sew on lost buttons yourself? With the right skills, you can even design your own garments or make statement pieces like springtime scarves, headbands, and handbags. To cut down on costs, stick with inexpensive yarn or fabric, and connect with a crafts teacher who can help you learn without wasting materials and making pricey mistakes!

Tip: These handmade creations make excellent gifts for Mother’s Day!

3. Cooking


It’s common knowledge that eating out constantly is one of the best ways to sink your savings. So why not learn to cook a few dishes that you bring to all the spring picnics and parties coming up? To really watch your budget, stay away from expensive ingredients like fish and opt for legumes, beans, and fresh fruits and vegetables. A cooking teacher can help you master a particular dish or technique, to make your learning more efficient.

4.  Yoga


Yoga is one of the best cheap hobbies to consider, because it doesn’t take much to get started, and it results in a ton of mental and physical benefits. All you need is comfortable clothing and a yoga mat! And spring is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine as you breathe, relax, and focus on positive thoughts. While you can find many yoga poses described online, it’s best to work with a teacher, who can observe and adjust you in each pose. If you want more individual attention, a private yoga instructor can guide you through exercises that are catered to your specific needs.

SEE ALSO: 40 Hobbies for Women

5. Dance


Spring is a popular season for weddings — and that means lots of opportunities for dancing! Instead of embarrassing yourself in front of your family and friends (or worse, the date you’re trying to impress), why not take a few dance lessons to brush up on your skills? An instructor can show you specific steps, or give you overall feedback to help you feel more confident on the dance floor. The best part? For most genres, there’s no need for fancy equipment or attire — all you need is comfortable shoes and a positive attitude! 

6. Music


Music is a great skill to learn any time of year! If you’re looking for something easy to start with, singing is a go-to choice for many, since you already own your instrument (your voice)! If singing isn’t your jam, there are many affordable ukulele brands out there,  as well as reasonably-priced keyboards that are perfect for beginners. Beyond that, many music stores rent out all types of instruments — just do your research to find the the best option in your area. With the help of a private music teacher, you’ll be ready to show off your skills at any potluck or bonfire by summer.

These are just some of the cheap hobbies that are fun to learn and can even save you money! Ready to get started? Enter the hobby you want to learn and your location here to find teachers near you.

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Photos by Eric Andresen, scrappy annieomgponies2Dave RosenblumDennis van Zuijlekompixelsuite

How to Hem Jeans: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners [Infographic]

how to hem jeans beginners guide

Looking for advice on hemming jeans? Finding a pair of jeans that fits just right can be a challenge. Sometimes, in order to get the perfect fit, you have to go to a tailor and if you have multiple pairs of jeans, alteration fees can add up!

Wearing jeans that are too long or too short is always uncomfortable, and oftentimes unflattering. But there are many easy ways to hem jeans to get the look you desire and in this blog post, we’ll share a few of them. Whether you’re taking sewing lessons or just want to learn some money-saving DIY skills, keep reading to learn how to hem jeans in this helpful tutorial.

How to Hem Jeans

Supplies Needed for Hemming Jeans:

First Step to Hemming Jeans – Measure the Inseam

Regardless of which method you use, the first step to hem your own jeans is to measure correctly. You need to find the inseam, the distance between the top of the crotch to the bottom of the pant leg. Once you determine the inseam, subtract that number from the current inseam, and this will tell you how many inches to cut or fold.

For example, if your inseam is 30 inches and the jeans are currently 32 inches, you will need to remove two inches of fabric from the jeans. Mark the new hem location using a ruler and chalk or a fabric marker.

how to hem jeans

How to Hem Jeans With a Sewing Machine

The easiest and quickest method for hemming jeans is to use a standard sewing machine. The process takes around 30 minutes, and if you use the right stitch, your jeans will withstand wear and tear for many washes.

It’s very important to use the appropriate needle. I suggest a 100/16 denim needle, but any heavier needle should work fine.

After you mark and cut your jeans, stitch around the edges to prevent fraying. You can do this with a standard sewing machine zig-zag stitch, or a serger on the edges.

You will need to pin the jeans with a ½ inch seam allowance all the way around on both legs.

Now you’re ready to sew! Using a straight stitch with medium length and corresponding thread color, sew all the way around both pant legs, making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end. Trim all loose threads and you’re done!

For a finished, professional look, sew around the border of the leg with gold thread. It’s very important to use a straight, even stitch because of the contrasting thread color.

how to hem jeans with a sewing machine

How to Hem Jeans with a Sewing Machine [Step-by-Step]

1. Stitch around the edges to prevent fraying after marking and cutting your jeans.

2. Use a zig-zag stitch, or a serger on the edges.

3. Pin the jeans with a 1/2 inch seam allowance on both legs.

4. Use a straight stitch to sew all the way around both legs.

5. Backstitch at the beginning and end.

6. Trim loose threads.

How to Hem Jeans by Hand

For hemming jeans by hand, you will need a little more time (close to an hour depending on your stitching speed). You will also need a medium length, heavyweight hand-sewing needle.

Follow the same steps: measure and mark the inseam (distance between the top of the crotch to the bottom of the pant leg) and cut or fold the excess fabric.

The best stitch to use for hand sewing is an invisible backstitch. This stitch will not be seen, so perfection is not important. It’s also a sturdy stitch that should stand up to as much, if not more, wear and tear as a sewing machine stitch.

Make sure to go around both edges of both legs with a few extra stabilization stitches at the beginning and end. To complete the hem, trim all loose threads and press with an iron.

how to hem jeans by hand

How to Hem Jeans With the Original Hem

You can also use the hand-sewing method to hem jeans with the original hem. This will make it nearly impossible to see that the jeans have been altered.

To achieve this look, do not cut the jeans. Instead, take the existing seam and fold it to match the new hem line, and pin it in place. Then follow the exact same instructions for hand stitching.

This method is probably the best for beginners to hemming jeans, because you do not have a risk of cutting improperly and ruining the jeans. This is also great if you have young children who may need to have the hem lengthened when their next growth spurt happens! Simply tuck the excess fabric above the hem under the jeans and iron it flat. Once again, make sure to trim the loose threads.

how to hem jeans with original hem

How to Hem Skinny Jeans

Skinny jeans are a little different to hem than traditional jeans. The inseam will need to be a bit shorter because you want them to sit right at the ankle, so remember this when measuring.

You also may need to use a stretchy thread if the fabric has more movement than standard denim. Be careful when hemming skinny jeans with a machine. It’s very easy to catch an extra layer in the machine because the leg is so small. I recommend using a hand backstitch to hem skinny jeans.

Some people would rather avoid hemming skinny jeans. If you feel this way, make sure to check out this guide for four different ways to adjust your skinny jeans.

how to hem jeans infographic

Jeans are a wardrobe staple for many of us. They can be worn in nearly any situation, with the comfort, look, and durability of the most luxurious fabrics.

Unfortunately, every brand has a different size measurement, and every country has a different sizing chart. This can make it challenging to find the perfect pair.

The solution: learn how to hem jeans! With a little bit of practice, you will be able to hem all of your own jeans. If you need any additional help hemming jeans, make sure to ask a sewing teacher!

Kari BPost Author:
 Kari B.
Kari has been teaching  private sewing lessons since 2006. She previously worked in costume design and crafts at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA. Learn more about Kari here!

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Image Courtesy: Tamera Clark

sewing terms

Sewing 101 | Essential Sewing Terms and Phrases [Infographic]

sewing terms

When you learn to sew, you’re introduced to slew of new vocabulary words and phrases. To help you understand these words and phrases, and be more conversational about your new craft, we’ve put together this glossary of sewing terms from Columbus, OH teacher Nikki D

“May your bobbin always be full!” ~Author Unknown. Most recognize what this quote means, but you might be thinking, “What on earth is a bobbin?” Bobbin, miter, selvedge – there is an extensive amount of vocabulary in sewing, but don’t worry; I have compiled a simple list for you to learn the essential sewing terms.

From Appliqué to Zig-zag, class is in session, welcome to sewing 101!

Sewing Machine Terms

Whether it’s your first time sewing on a machine, or you’ve been using one for years, you might not know the  name of all the parts on your sewing machine  – or even what they do! All sewing machines have the same basic parts. So here’s an introduction to the basic parts of every sewing machine, and what their main function is.
Bobbin: The bobbin is a spindle or cylinder placed on the bottom of the sewing machine. You wind thread around the bobbin and use it to form the lower part of the sewing machine stitches.

Foot Pedal: Step on the foot pedal to power your sewing machine.

Presser Foot: This is NOT the same as the foot pedal on the floor that you step on to make your sewing machine work. This is the part of the sewing machine that holds the fabric steady while the fabric is being stitched. It can be pulled up and down, off the fabric, with a lever or a button.

Hand Wheel: Use the hand wheel to adjust the needle height.

Spool Pin: This part of the sewing machine keeps the spool in place while the thread is fed through the machine.

Thread Cutter: Some sewing machines come with built-in thread cutters. As the name implies, this cuts the end of the thread.

Feed Dog: The toothed metal piece underneath the stitch plate that moves up and down to push the fabric along.

sewing terms


Basic Sewing Terms

 In order to understand some basic rules of sewing, you need to know basic sewing terms. Understanding these terms will help you read patterns, follow instructions, and talk about what you’re doing with a better vocabulary.
Here are a few basic sewing terms and vocabulary words that will help you learn to sew.

Back Stitch: The process of sewing backwards over the loose threads at the beginning of a stitch, in order to secure your stitch. This works by securing the threads down so they don’t come loose and unravel your stitch. This is done at the beginning and end of a stitch, and whenever the thread is broken.

Check out this infographic to learn more about the basic sewing stitches

Seam: The line where two pieces of fabric are sewn together.

Seam Allowance: The space of fabric between the edge and seam. The seam allowance may be different depending on the type of fabric yo use.

Lining: An inner layer of fabric underneath a garment.

Hem: The edge of the fabric that has been folded and sewn under in order to keep the raw edge of the fabric from unraveling and being seen.

Darts: A wedge-shaped fold used to shape patterns in order to make a garment fit better.

Quilting: The process of stitching two layers of fabric together, with a layer of filling in between in a consistent pattern.


sewing terms

Sewing Terms: Fabric Types

Fabric is an essential part of sewing – in fact, it’s your most basic material and the part of your project that you will most likely decide on first. Knowing the difference between warp and weft, how to find the grain, and when to use muslin will give you the step up that you need to go from beginner to pro sewist.

Fabric Grain: The orientation of fibers, woven or knit together, to create a fabric. The grain creates lines that run parallel and perpendicular to the selvedge.

Bias: Diagonally across the grain of the fabric, where woven fabric has more stretch or give.

Warp: The thread that runs the length of a woven fabric (“up” and “down”).

Weft: The threads that run at right angles to the length of a woven fabric, otherwise known as cross-grain.

Muslin: an untreated, undyed fabric made of cotton, used to create pattern pieces and prototypes of garments, in order to fix mistakes in the pattern before using the final permanent fabric.

Selvedge: The edges of a raw fabric that run along the edge with the grain. Fabric has a selvedge edge so that it doesn’t fray before it’s sold.

Hand: A term used to describe the texture and feeling of a certain fabric.

sewing terms


Sewing Words and Phrases

The art and practice of sewing come with a huge vocabulary. There are many different kinds of sewing tools, stitches, fabric elements, and techniques associated with sewing.
Here are just a few more words and phrases to help you on your sewing journey, and expand your knowledge of sewing and fashion.

Appliqué: The process of sewing a piece of fabric onto another piece of fabric, sewing close to the edges of the shape that you attach.

Baste: Sewing, by hand or machine, with long stitches in order to temporarily hold together two pieces of fabric, so that they stay in place while you stitch them together.

Binding: Using a thin strip of fabric or bias tape in order to hide the edges of a piece of fabric.

Embroidery: A hand-sewing technique used to decorate fabric with needle-made designs. Sewists generally use colorful thread, and you can also embroider fabric with a programmable sewing machine.

Facing: Fabric used to finish raw edges of a garment to make the edges lie flat. You can see this on a neckline or armhole.

Gather: A gather is created by running a thread along the fabric, and then scrunching the fabric together along the thread.

Pleat: A fold created by doubling the fabric over itself, and stitching it together.

Ruche: A pleated or gathered strip of fabric.

Seam Ripper: A small tool with a pointed edge used to remove stitches from a piece of fabric.

Sewing Notion: an item that is sewn or attached to a finished sewing project, such as a button or snap. This term can also describe a tool used for sewing, like a pin or a seam ripper.

Yoke: A design element at the top part of a garment, to fit over the body.

Zig Zag: A stretchable sewing machine stitch that runs diagonally, back and forth (zig and zag).


sewing terms


I hope this sewing vocabulary lesson helps you understand some of the basic sewing terms and phrases. If you learn them and use them often, you will sound like an old sewing pro in no time!

To help you review, here’s an infographic with all of the sewing terms and phrases.


sewing terms

Want to keep this chart in your sewing room or classroom? Get the printable version here: sewing terms. For practice, try learning how to hem jeans by machine or hand.

If you have any questions about any of these sewing terms, ask your sewing teacher for help, or let us know in the comments below!

Happy sewing!


Nikki DPost Author: Nikki D.
Nikki teaches art, art history, and sewing lessons in Columbus, OH. She studied integrated fashion design at Parsons School of Design and is also certified in meditation science and techniques. Learn more about Nikki here!

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sewing tips

10 Sewing Tips From a Sewing Expert

sewing tips

Want to improve your sewing skills? In this guest post, Yesterday’s Thimble blogger Lisha Vidler shares 10 sewing tips to help you take your seamstress skills to the next level…

Whether you’re new to sewing or just looking to improve, there are things you can do to take your skills up a notch. Don’t let your garments look “Becky Home-Ecky,” as Michael Kors would say! Even if you aren’t a professional dressmaker or crafter, you can aim for a more professional look. Here are 10 tips to help you improve your sewing.

Note: While this article talks about garment sewing, these tips also apply to home decorating, purse-making, historical costuming, and many other types of sewing.

1. Get Quality Tools and Materials

Trying to sew without the correct tools is like sewing blindfolded, with one hand tied behind your back! There are tools for almost every sewing task, so find out what exists and give these sewing tools a try. Nancy’s Favorite 101 Notions is a great book for beginners.

It’s important not to skimp on quality—always buy the best tools you can afford. What’s the difference between a $5 pair of shears and a $25 pair? Bargain scissors are harder to cut with, they’ll probably go dull quickly, they won’t always cut accurately, they could ruin your fabric, and they may give you blisters or sore fingers. Is it really worth saving a few dollars?

Higher-quality sewing tools will last longer and work better, and most importantly—they’ll make sewing a pleasant experience. The same goes for fabric and sewing notions. It’s difficult to make a high-end garment if you’re using cheap fabric!

If you’re ready to take things to the next level, start by upgrading your sewing tools.

2. Pre-Wash Fabric and Trims

Have you ever washed a hand-made garment only to discover that it shrunk? Or the seams mysteriously puckered? Or the fabric’s texture changed? Or the colors bled? These symptoms can be prevented by pre-washing your fabric.

Many sewing notions need to be pre-washed, too. This includes lace, ribbon, decorative braid and trim, zippers, and interfacing, which should be hand-washed and drip-dried.

3. Find the Right Fit

A good fit is one of the key aspects of a professional-looking garment, but it can be the trickiest to learn. Commercial patterns are made to fit a very specific, uncommon body type. If your shape doesn’t match the pattern’s ideal model, you’ll need to make adjustments. There’s no shame in this! Learn your body’s quirks and how to compensate for them. A great guide for common fitting adjustments is Palmer and Pletch’s Fit For Real People.
Here’s another tip: take the time to sew a mockup. Sometimes called a muslin or toile, it’s what the experts use to get a perfect fit. Basically, you’re going to sew your garment from unbleached muslin (or some other cheap fabric) in order to test the fit and make necessary changes—without risking your good fabric.

Tip: A good source for mockup fabric is your local thrift shop. Look for secondhand flat sheets!

4. Measure Grainlines

sewing terms

Have you ever wondered about the arrows on your pattern pieces? They indicate which direction the pattern should face. The arrows should run parallel to the fabric’s grain.

If you cut a pattern off-grain, it may hang oddly. Eyeballing isn’t good enough—take the time to measure from each end of the arrow to the fabric’s edge to make sure the pattern piece is straight.

It’s especially important to pay attention to the direction of each pattern piece if you’re working with napped fabric. For this purpose, napped means any fabric that looks different from various angles, such as velvet, corduroy, satin, and shot (iridescent) fabrics. This also applies to stripes, plaids, and directional prints.

If you cut some pieces with the arrow running parallel to the selvage and others perpendicular, you may end up with stripes running the wrong way on half of  your blouse!

5. Use the Right Needle

Different fabrics require different types of needles. Regular woven fabrics need a universal needle. Knit jerseys, sweater knits, and stretch fabrics require a ballpoint needle. Leather and suede call for a leather needle. Heavy fabrics, like denim and twill, need a jeans needle.
Needle size is important, too. The higher the number, the bigger the needle. Bigger needles are intended for heavier fabrics.

Here’s a fabric size cheat-sheet to help you out:

  • Lightweight: Voile, Batiste, Lawn, Chiffon, Organza, Tissue Knit Jersey #9
  • Light to Medium-Weight: Quilting Cotton, Broadcloth, Flannel, 21-Wale Corduroy #11 or #12
  • Heavyweight: Twill, Denim, Upholstery #14 or #16

Note: needles go dull faster than you’d think, so change your needle with every new project.

6. Press As You Sew

sewing tips

For those of you who despise ironing—it’s not the same as pressing! Strangely, most pattern directions don’t mention pressing at all, yet pressing as you sew is vital.
First, press the seam flat, just as it was sewn. This melds the stitching, smoothing it out, so it’s flush with the fabric. Next, press the seam open, first from the inside of the garment, then from the outside. This flattens the seam, making it less visible. After that, if your pattern calls for it, press the seam to one side.

7. Learn to Use Different Seam Finishes

sewing tips

This is another crucial step, yet it’s rarely mentioned in pattern directions. If you leave a seam raw, it will fray—especially when you wash the garment. It also looks very unprofessional.

The solution is to finish the seams in some way. There are lots of different seam finishes to choose from, such as flat-felling, French seams, mock-French seams, Hong Kong binding, and others. Most are very easy.

My favorite finishing technique is overlocking. It’s a method that’s rarely used because most people think you need an industrial sewing machine to do it. The truth is, most sewing machines have an overlock (aka overcast) stitch. Use it with an overlock or overcast presser foot (which can be purchased online for around $12) and you’ll get a beautiful seam finish every time!

8. Reduce Bulk

By reducing bulk wherever possible, you’ll end up with a tidier-looking garment. Here’s how:

Trim and Grade Seams

For seams that aren’t pressed open, cut one side of the seam allowance narrower than the other. Not only does this reduce bulk, but it prevents ridges from showing on the right side of the garment.

Clip or Notch Curves

Convex or outward curves (such as collars), need to be notched. Cut a series of small triangles into the seam allowance, so that when the garment is turned right-side out, the curved seam will lie flat.

sewing tips

Concave or inward curves (such as necklines and armscyes) need to be clipped. Cut a series of short cuts into the seam allowance, so the seam allowance can spread open when flipped right-side out.

sewing tips

With both methods, alternate the clips on each seam allowance, so you avoid weak points in the seam.

Clip Ends of Seam Allowance Diagonally

Any seam allowance that will be crossed by another seam should have the ends clipped diagonally, to remove excess fabric.

sewing tips

Clip Corners Before Flipping Right-Side Out

Any corner should have the point clipped off—not just once, but three times. First, cut straight across the diagonal corner. Then, go back and cut both remaining corners. This will help create a sharp point when the fabric is turned right-side out.

sewing tips


Avoid Backstitching

Beginners often have trouble backstitching accurately. If you do succeed in sewing directly over your previous stitch, it often creates a thick seam that won’t press flat, no matter how hard you try.

Instead, try this couture method: reduce your stitch length to 1.0 or 1.5 for the first and last half inch of every seam. Don’t worry, it will hold securely—and without the unwieldy bulk of backstitching.

9. Don’t Forget the Details

Sometimes, it’s the small things that matter most. For example:

 Learn to Sew Straight

If you have trouble sewing a straight line—practice! If necessary, buy a seam guide. They make several different kinds that attach to your sewing machine. (Never use the magnetic kind if your sewing machine is computerized!) Or you can simply place a piece of blue painter’s tape alongside the feed dogs to mark your seam allowance.

If you have trouble sewing curves, slow down. Instead of trying to angle the fabric while you’re stitching, stop sewing. Make sure the needle is down, then raise the presser foot and pivot the fabric slightly. Lower the presser foot and sew a few stitches, then repeat.

If it’s a very tight curve, you may need to stop and pivot every two stitches. If it’s a shallower curve, you can get away with fewer pivots.

Clip Your Threads

Whenever you finish a seam and remove the fabric from the sewing machine, immediately clip your threads. It’s a good habit that will prevent finished garments with messy, dangling threads.

Directional Stitching

This is a technique that’s rarely taught these days. To prevent distorted or stretched-out seams, sew from the widest point to the narrowest, or from the highest point to the lowest.
For example, when sewing the side seams of a flared skirt, start at the hem and sew toward the waist. Or when sewing a curved neckline, don’t sew down one side and back up the other. Instead, start at the highest point (the shoulder) and sew to the lowest point (the center of the neckline).

To finish, flip the garment over and repeat, sewing the other side of the neckline in the same way. Overlap the stitches at the center front. (For more information, see: “Directional Stitching.”)

9-Directional_Stitching (1)

10. Practice Hand Sewing

Most garments will call for hand sewing at some point, whether it’s basting, hemming, attaching a hook and eye, or crafting buttonholes. The more you practice hand sewing, the better your stitches will look. Here’s four types of hand-sewing you’ll want to master.


A long running stitch used to temporarily hold seams together. It’s more secure than pinning, so baste whenever you have a tricky seam, or difficult fabric.

Tip: Use a fine silk thread for basting. It’s a dream to sew with, and it pulls out easily once you’re done.


Hems often look nicer when hand-sewn. Learn the blind-hem stitch, as well as the catch-stitch.


This is an invisible stitch used to close gaps in linings, as well as to attach bias binding. It takes practice to make it truly invisible, so don’t skip this one.

Buttonhole Stitch

Not just for sewing buttonholes! Use this stitch to attach hooks and eyes, to give them a polished look, or as a decorative embroidery stitch.

Bonus! When hand sewing, always use waxed thread. It’s stronger and less likely to tangle or knot up. To wax it, first thread your needle and knot the end. Pull the thread through a cake of beeswax several times, until it feels a bit like dental floss. Fold the thread into a scrap of muslin, then press with a warm iron. This melts the wax, fusing it with the thread.

slipstich (1)


One final tip: Keep practicing and keep learning. Don’t focus just on new techniques, but try to refine the sewing methods you already know. Before you know it, you’ll be stitching like a pro!

Hopefully, these sewing tips will help you refine your technique and improve your sewing skills. If you have questions, let us know in the comments below!

Lisha Vidler started sewing at the age of four, when she crafted Barbie dresses out of Kleenex! One thing led to another, and now she teaches sewing classes in Cordova, TN. Her website, Yesterday’s Thimble, is filled with sewing tips and tricks.


holiday sewing projects

10 Fun, Festive Holiday Sewing Projects


holiday sewing projects

As the holiday season approaches, these holiday sewing projects will help you get into the spirit! So whether you’re looking for some festive holiday decor or some DIY gift ideas, make sure to bookmark these fun, festive holiday sewing projects…

Craft Sewing Projects


Lovely Scissor Holder

holiday sewing projets

Image courtesy AllFreeSewing


There’s no point in starting your holiday sewing projects without an organized sewing kit. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to find what you need. This DIY scissor holder will help you (or a fellow sewing enthusiast) get organized, and keep your precious fabric scissors safe, so that no one uses them to cut anything other than material!

A useful, crafty gift for friends or relatives, this project is suitable for absolute beginners and can either be hand sewn or made with a machine. Although this makes a great Valentine’s Day gift, this is the perfect project to bookmark for birthdays and year-round crafting projects.


Felt Tablet Case

ipad case

Image courtesy Urban | Acreage

This beautiful felt tablet case isn’t just practical, it’s a cool, thoughtful gift for a teen or adult. You can sew this by hand or use a sewing machine.

For an individual touch, try embroidering your own designs on the felt!







Fabric Scraps Matching Game

matching gameYou might think that sewn toys have to be plushies or difficult-to-follow patterns, but with this simple tutorial, you can make your own matching game.

This game is great for young children, and you can make it more challenging if you want to gift it to older kids.




Tote Bags

holiday sewing projects

Image courtesy Craft and Fabric Links


Need a shopping bag you can stuff in your purse that’s perfect for that last minute bit of Christmas shopping?  Tote bags are simple to make and they’re perfect eco-friendly stocking stuffers.

Add a few festive patches to turn this tote into the ideal holiday shopping companion.



Thanksgiving Sewing Projects


Turkey Pot Holder

holiday sewing projects

Image courtesy AllFreeSewing

Pot holders are always useful, either to get hot pans from the oven, to protect your kitchen counter, or in this case, to make you smile while you’re cooking a Thanksgiving feast!

Fall into the season with this festive Turkey pot holder; you can make it as plain or bright as you want. It also makes a great gift for friends and family.


Thanksgiving Table Runner

holiday sewing projects

Image courtesy AllFreeSewing


Add a personal touch to your holiday gathering with this Thanksgiving table runner. This beginner-friendly, hand-sewing project is perfect to personalize each place setting.

Your dinner guests can write their names or write down what they’re thankful for this year.



No-Sew Napkins



If you’re feeling stressed and running out of time to make something with that fabric you’ve purchased for table settings, follow instructions at the end of this table runer tutorial, to make these simple, fancy no-sew napkins.

You’d pay good money for fancy napkins from a store, so why not make them yourself?




Christmas Sewing Projects


Christmas Stocking



Once Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to start preparing for Christmas, and what is Christmas without a tree and stockings hung on the mantle?

You can use these plaid Christmas stockings year after year. They look great by themselves, and they will look even better filled with gifts for your loved ones!

Christmas Cat


Image courtesy Craft and Fabric Links

Follow this tutorial to make this adorable, cat-shaped pillow. Use Christmas fabric for a DIY gift or holiday decoration, or use non-Christmas fabric for a fun craft project you can do any time of year!






Want to make your own beautifully-stitched holiday ornaments? It’s easier than ever with this tutorial. Instead of throwing out leftover scraps, use them to make tree and mantelpiece ornaments.






These holiday sewing projects should give you some inspiration for crafts, gifts, and DIY decor. If you need help with any of these projects, be sure to ask your sewing teacher!

Happy holidays and happy sewing!

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Image courtesy Tony Hall

sewing blogs

The Best Sewing Blogs and Online Resources

sewing blogs

Blogs and online resources can be a huge help when you’re taking sewing lessons, but which blogs are the best? Here, Glendale, CA sewing teacher Marie B. shares her picks for the best sewing blogs and online resources…

In the ocean of information that is the Internet, it can be daunting to find the right information when you need it. One can easily get lost in the myriad of blogs and websites. I have put together a list of some of the best sites for sewing tips, sewing tutorials, sewing patterns, and general information.

Sewing blogs can provide great resources and inspiration, and they can also help you discover new independent pattern companies, learn new techniques, and even teach you to be adventurous and try something new.

In this list of sewing blogs, you will find a mix of blogs for beginners, aspiring fashionistas, and the creative, crafty crowd. Explore these sites and bookmark your favorites; have fun!

Sewing Blogs for Beginners


Tilly and The Buttons

best sewing blogs

The beginner seamstress will find a lot of valuable information on Tilly and The Buttons. This elegant site focuses on dressmaking, but also offers helpful tutorials on sewing essentials.

The simple dress designs aren’t intimidating for blooming sewists, and you can also purchase the printed patterns on the site.

Tilly Walnes, founder and author of the best-selling book “Love at First Stitch,” lives in the U.K.., but you can save on shipping and get started right away by downloading the patterns directly from the website.

How to Sew

best sewing blogs

For the crafters, How To Sew has an extensive selection of tutorials for beautiful projects.

The tutorials are easy to follow, and they include helpful pictures and clear, step-by-step instructions for cutting and construction.


sewing blogs

This website is a great online sewing resource for beginners and seasoned seamstresses alike. You can access free sewing patterns, projects, videos, and eBooks.

AllFreeSewing also has a great blog for sewists called SeamsandScissors.

Fashion Sewing Blogs


Colette Blog

sewing blogs

If you’re taking sewing lessons to unleash your inner fashionista, then these two fashion sewing blogs are for you!

The Colette Blog is packed with creative inspiration, tutorials, and sewing tips. Plus, you can check out the sister site, Colette Patterns, where you can buy fabulous sewing materials and patterns.

The blog is easy to navigate and divided into sections such as tutorials, inspiration, and the wardrobe architect, where you can learn about the basics of fashion design, from shape to silhouette. This site will help you build a better, more personal wardrobe that reflects who you are.

“We make sewing patterns that teach,” says founder and creative director Sarai Mitnick. “Our small team is dedicated to reviving the art of sewing through everything we do.”

Fashion Sewing With Angela Wolf

sewing blogs

Angela Wolf is a designer, author, and TV personality. She is the couture sewing expert on It’s Sew Easy TV, and an online instructor on Craftsy and Pattern Review.

If you’re interested in fashion sewing, you should definitely check out her website.  The site includes video tutorials and sewing tips, and there is a blog with lots of articles on all things sewing.

“I started sewing when I was six years old, taught from my mother,” Wolf says. “I continued to sew all through college and started a custom apparel / alterations business that I ran for over 20 years.  Now, I simply want to share what I have learned and hopefully inspire others to sew, especially garments. A few years ago I started Angela Wolf Pattern Collection to provide sewing patterns based on my designs with a fit similar to ready-to-wear sizing. My blog quickly followed in order to provide sewing, fitting, and embellishing tutorials, tips, and solutions. Best known for teaching how to sew designer jeans, I try to make it SEW EASY for any level sewer.”

Craft Sewing Blogs

Sew Mama Sew

sewing blogs

Whether it’s home décor, accessories like hairbands and bags, aprons, or special handmade gifts, Sew Mama Sew has something for everyone.

Founded by Kristin Link, Sew Mama Sew offers sewing tutorials, sew-along patterns, and sewing techniques for both beginner and intermediate sewists.

The Sewing Directory

sewing blogs

This website is a great for beginners, but with so many free projects, The Sewing Directory is also an excellent resource for crafters.

“The Sewing Directory is the number one UK sewing website, and the first stop to find local and online sewing shops, sewing classes, and sewing groups,” says Fiona Pullen, founder of The Sewing Directory.  “Plus you’ll also find free sewing projects, technique guides, sewing features, industry news, and giveaways.

Sewing is an addicting, fun hobby that you can come into with no previous knowledge.  There are so many different types of sewing: hand sewing, quilting, dressmaking, soft furnishing, repairs and alterations, bag making, etc., you are sure to find something that suits you. It only takes one class to get you going so why not try it today?”

Sewing Blogs for Kids


Crazy Little Projects

sewing blogs

Whether you’re a crafty mom or you have a young, budding seamstresses at home, Crazy little Projects is full of charming ideas for kids. Learn how to make hooded towels, school bags, stuffed dolls, and stuffed monsters. There are also project that kids can do.

The site has a 25 things to sew section, where you will find just that, 25 things to create in different categories such as 25 Things to Sew Under 30 Minutes and 25 Things to Sew for Baby.

“I love that when you sew, you can take a pile of fabric and create something great,” says Amber from Crazy Little Projects. “Just start where you are and keep practicing and improving over time. Little by little, you will find that you have learned a lot!”


Made by Rae

sewing blogs


Rae Hoekstra is a former physics teacher turned blogger and sewer, and her website is fun, easy to follow, and inspiring.

Whether you want to sew some new kids clothes or you’re looking for some kid-friendly projects to do at home, made by Rae is full of creative ideas, sewing projects, and tutorials.


Sewing Blogs Tutorials


Grainline Studio

sewing blogs

Jennifer Beeman, a Chicago-based designer and patternmaker, created the Grainline Studio website. Beeman publishes a line of patterns and posts sewing and pattern-making tutorials to create variations with existing patterns.

Although the tutorials focus mainly on her line of patterns, the techniques she demonstrates in her tutorials and sew-alongs can be applied to similar projects.

She also has a several free downloadable patterns and a series of fun-to-do projects for the home.

So Sew Easy

sewing blogs


Deby, So Sew Easy blogger and founder, discovered her passion for sewing while recovering from a brain injury in 2012. She created So Sew Easy to document her own sewing journey, and she provides sewing tutorials and videos to teach sewists new techniques.

“While you can’t beat that one-on-one approach to learning a new skill, if you can’t find the perfect sewing teacher close to where you live, then do consider all of the options for online learning,” Deby says. “You can also supplement your in-person lessons with some extra reading and research. There are so many bloggers that give great advice and tutorials, have free sewing patterns for you to use, and even show you how to use them with video tutorials, too. Once your sewing teacher gets you started, you’ll soon be hooked and ready to explore the vast world of sewing, including making your own clothes, bags, and accessories. Drop into the Free Sewing Patterns Page on So Sew Easy and pick out your next project.”

In addition to sewing tutorials, you can access free sewing patterns, see Deby’s latest projects, and network with other sewing enthusiasts.

Plus Size Sewing Blogs


Curvy Sewing Collective

sewing blogs

Americans’ waistlines have been expanding in the last 30 years; so let’s not forget about a group that’s often ignored in fashion circles. There are a few blogs worth mentioning, but one that seems to standout is Curvy Sewing Collective. Not just a sewing blog, it’s also a community of supportive, body positive sewing enthusiasts.

Curvy Sewing Collective is a great resource to find sewing patterns in your size, and how-to’s for making size adjustments. There’s lots of information on measurements and fabrics that work best for a curvy figure. The community members share pictures of their creations, and interact in the online forum.

With articles on healthy body image, discussions, pattern reviews, and tutorials, it’s a very informative site that not only offers help for curvy seamstresses, but also makes a difference in peoples’ lives.

Sewing Blogs for Sewing Tools


Sewing Insight

sewing blogs

Just as there is no shortage of sewing blogs, there are also several options when it comes to where you can purchase sewing supplies online. While your sewing teacher can help you decide which sewing tools you need as a beginner, Sewing Insight allows you to read equipment ratings and reviews on the most popular sewing machine brands and sewing-related products.

Sewing is a lifelong passion of mine,” says Sewing Insight founder Vernelle Nelson. “Being able to share that passion with others is a dream come true. When I started sewing, I never thought that my hobby would evolve into what it has become.”

There are thousands of fantastic sewing blogs on the web, and it’s impossible for one person to know them all. The sites listed here are some of the most popular, and some of my favorites.

I hope you find these resources useful. May these blogs keep you motivated and help you discover your love of sewing!

Do you have some favorite sewing blogs that aren’t on this list? Let us know in the comments below.

Marie BPost Author: Marie B.
Marie teaches sewing, fashion design, and animation in Glendale, CA. Marie studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM). She has been sewing for over 30 years. Learn more about Nikki here!

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