Sewing Stitches

Is Sewing Stitches a Ticket to Professional Success? Tackle This Skill to Stand Out

You’ll hear about sewing stitches in every video tutorial, blog, and sewing lesson. 

Getting acquainted with this skill is extremely useful. 

That’s why we prepared this sewing stitches bible—to help you grasp this broad topic.

After all, isn’t it handy to have all the information related to sewing stitches in one place? 

Hold on tight! Soon, you’ll have all your questions about sewing methods answered. 

Decorative sewing machine stitches
Image source: The Spruce Crafts

Types of sewing stitches

What sewing stitches are, and what types can we differentiate among them?

We use different sewing stitches for specific purposes. In this article, we’ll learn which stitch to use when with the help of The Spruce Crafts

But let’s start with a definition.

The sewing stitch is the fundamental element of sewing. While “sewing” refers to the craft, “stitching” is its component.

A simple sewing stitch is a single turn or loop of thread or yarn used to 

    1. bind sewing fabric pieces together, or 
    2. decorate the fabric. 

Here’s “How to Make Fabric with Decorative Stitches,” according to Chatterbox Quilts:

We can sew stitches by hand or do it with a sewing machine.

Sewing stitches
Image source: Contrado

Since we’re talking about functionality and decoration in one accessory:

Have you heard about different types of woven labels by Super Label Store?

Let’s say you learn to sew stitches, know everything about sewing supplies, and tackle easy beginner sewing projects

You arrived at having your DIY fashion ideas put into actual, splendid outfits. 

Is there anything left to enhance your performance?

At this point, we suggest reaching out for one of the best sewing tips and tricks out there. 

Check out these customized:

Personalized woven labels
You’re one step away from turning your DIY garments into professional pieces of clothing!

All you have to do is click on:

    1. configure, where you can design your woven labels from scratch, or
    2. upload your logo and use available options. 

Before you notice, your label or hang tag is ready to go!

Custom hang tags for clothing
But let’s first create a garment; we will think about woven labels in a minute. 

We use different types of sewing stitches. They can serve for:

    • sewing,
    • knitting, 
    • embroidery, 
    • crochet, and 
    • needle lace-making;

Stitching, as a verb, refers to making repeated stitches. It can describe:

    • putting together a garment, 
    • quilting, etc. (see the list above), or 
    • even binding up a wound.

Hand sewing stitches
Image source: Seamwork

Let’s browse different kinds of sewing techniques that involve stitching. 

    1. The first part is about finding the best hand sewing stitch for your project.
    2. In the second part of this blog, we will browse the list of machine sewing stitches with descriptions;

Do you want to relax with a video before we start? 

Then watch these “5 Simple Hand Stitches for Historical Sewing,” by Willoughby & Rose:

We’ll go through these instructions step by step in the paragraphs below.

Types of sewing stitches
Image source: Vam

Hand sewing techniques

This chapter of our stitching tale shows you the types of stitches to perform by hand. 

For starters, let’s see a video with six basic hand-sewing stitches:

Repeating is never a bad idea when one has to learn how to sew, so let’s make a quick list. 

The main types of different hand-sewing stitches are:

    1. basting stitch, 
    2. running stitch, and running baste stitch,
    3. catch stitch/cross-stitch, 
    4. blanket stitch, 
    5. whip stitch, 
    6. overcast stitch,
    7. blind hem stitch,
    8. securing stitch,
    9. slip/ladder stitch, and 
    10. back stitch;

Sounds terrifying? Take it easy; it’s not as complicated as it sounds. 

Also, making these basic hand-sewing stitches requires only:

    1. sewing needle,
    2. thread (read about sewing threads types and tips), and
    3. scissors,

You will handle it!

Also, these 35 intermediate sewing projects won’t make themselves without your help.

Let’s browse these stitches and give it a try.

See the table below showing purposes of a few hand stitches (according to So Sew Easy):


Running/straight stitch

    • basting, i.e., keeping things together until a stronger stitch can be used (it’s best to use 4 to 5mm length),
    • sewing the sides of loose skirts, pants, and blouses,
    • sewing a silk blouse, thin linen, or attaching a trim where more than one row of stitches is necessary (1 to 2 mm in length is a reasonable stitch),  
    • gathering,
    • mending,
    • tucking
    • making ruffles;

Whip stitch

    • heming garments,
    • turning down seams to hide raw edges;


    • attaching fabrics,
    • outlining shapes for embroidery designs,
    • writing,
    • serves everywhere you need a strong stitch; 

Running backstitch

    • combines the speed of the running stitch with the strength of the backstitch, 
    • perfect when time is of the essence to finish a garment or to attach a zipper;

For a few more tips about hand stitching, see:

Basic hand sewing stitches
Image source: Yarn Bombers United

How to recognize a well-made hand stitch? According to Johnson:

    • It consists of an appropriate thread type for the stitch, fabric, and task.
    • It’s secured at the beginning and ending with no loose threads.
    • It has a uniform length.
    • It’s invisible on the outside of the garment (unless you want it to be).
    • It’s neat on the inside.
    • It has knots or thread ends between the fabric layers or hidden within construction details.
    • It’s smooth and does not create puckers on the right or wrong sides of the sewing fabric

No one has ever described the “sewing stitches promised land” better.

Following the list above, let’s now get down to business. 

Types of sewing
Image source: Seamwork

So Sew Easy guides us through the types of stitches hand sewing methods in the table below.

So let’s get our hands-on experience with stitching!

At the beginning of this So Sew Easy article, there is a note: 

“Before you use these stitches, wax and cut the thread twice the distance of your thumb to your elbow.” 

Also, the authors mention a few steps to follow before you begin:

    1. Mark the seam allowance with tailor’s chalk or erasable pen.
    2. Keep the fabric from moving with sewing pins placed along the seam allowance.
    3. Finally, make an anchor stitch or a simple knot.

Now, you’re ready to stitch.

Let’s look at the three examples of steps to take in this hand-sewing stitches chart:

running/straight stitch backstitch whip stitch

Step 1

Insert the needle from the top of the fabric to the bottom. Then pull the needle out 2mm in front where you inserted the needle.

Insert the needle at the edge of the fabric.

Pull the needle and thread back out 2mm from the edge of the fabric.

Fold the edge of the hem twice. Then, to hide the knot, stick the needle behind the crease. 

Step 2

Leaving a slight tale, insert the needle again in the same place you took the needle out. Pull the thread tight. This stitch should lock the thread in place. 

Insert the needle once again where you first inserted the needle.

Take one or two threads from the bottom, and two from the top pull the needle and the thread tight.

Step 3

Run the sewing needle three to four stitches on your seam allowance line.

Take the needle out 2mm from where the thread is out or twice the distance you first inserted the needle.

See more on So Sew Easy and read about other advanced sewing techniques

Step 4

Carry on inserting and taking the needle out at the same length to keep your stitches regular. Make an anchor stitch or a knot at the end, or leave without a knot if you want to gather the fabric. 

Taking the needle back for every step to ensure your stitch is super strong.

Let’s see what we have learned about different types of sewing stitches by hand. 

We use straight/running stitches often. This is because they’re the simplest among all types of hand stitches. 

If the decorative aspect of stitches inspires you, check different embroidery stitches on Kresent. There are 16 of them described on the site.

You may have the best sewing machine on the market. Yet, one day you may want to know types of sewing stitches by hand. 

It may happen if:

    • there is an unexpected urgency, or
    • you are eager to achieve a better garment’s look (for example, seaming stitches might not work so well on a sewing machine);

Basic hand sewing techniques
Image source: Study At CES

Another commonly used stitch is the backstitch. 

This one is the strongest among all the types of hand stitches. It’s also the most adaptable and permanent. It’s known as a bulk-free knot replacement for the beginnings and endings of hand-sewn seams.

We use various types of hand stitches for a variety of purposes. 

Now, let’s see what the world of sewing machine stitches has to offer.

Master the hand stitch
Image source: Threads Magazine

Basic sewing stitches for a sewing machine

As The Spruce Crafts reports:

“The more elaborate (or expensive) your sewing machine is, the more stitch options the machine will have.”

A sewing machine offers anywhere from eight to 100+ types of stitch settings!

Having a sophisticated machine is nothing without knowing how to deal with all these stitches. And that’s why we’re here. 

Sewing methods
Image source: Ladul Satina

Before we start, we remind you always to test a new stitch you learn to sew on a scrap. That will save you tears in case things do not go as well as expected. 

Any other tips before getting our creative stitching juices flowing?

In the beginning, we need to adjust the stitch:

    1. Stitch length

Not only choosing the style of stitch is crucial.

On your sewing machine, you can also adjust the length of each stitch. 

If you go for shorter lengths, you’ll have a tighter seam. It’s because more stitches are crammed into a smaller space. 

Choosing longer stitches means the construction will be looser (fewer stitches within each area of fabric).

Sewing stitches measurement techniques
Image source: Textile Learner

      2. Stitch width

This feature affects the distance the needle moves sideways while creating stitches. 

Not applicable for simple straight stitches. More complex styles will need some adjustments. 

It will depend on the thickness and quality of the fabric:

      • stretch fabrics like jerseys will need a narrow stitch.
      • other fabrics will suit a wider setting.

To learn how to navigate through the sewing machine settings with the length and width of the stitch. 

Read about it also on Age Berry in an exhaustive article: 

“What is the stitch length and how to adjust it for different fabrics–a sewing tutorial.”

Sew and stitch
Image source: Dias Days

Now, let’s see what the three (of five) main machine stitches types are (with a bit of help from The Spruce Crafts). For the blind and stretch stitch, look at the blog. 

decorative straight zigzag

We rarely fully enjoy plenty of decorative stitch options on our machines. It’s a pity because they let us be highly creative.

It’s the most commonly used stitch. This one is strong. It’s straight with a thread on top (the upper thread) and a thread on the bottom (the bobbin thread), with the threads interlocking at regular intervals.

A zigzag stitch looks like multiple “w.” You can adjust its length and width. 

If “Conquering the ZigZag Stitch” sounds like an exciting idea, check GoodStarTool immediately. 

You’ll learn what’s the best time to use this stitch and many other helpful sewing hacks.

To eliminate a heavy track of bobbin thread on the top or underside of your fabric, use a lighter-weight bobbin thread when sewing decorative stitches.

To adjust a straight stitch, fix its length. The rule is simple:

    1. a tiny, short stitch is tight and difficult to remove, 
    2. a longer stitch is easier to remove;

Consider using a zigzag stitch:

    • if a seam may experience tugging or pulling, 
    • if the area may fray, 
    • if there is a raw edge, secure it down with a zigzag stitch for a hem,
    • if you’re applying an applique,
    • for buttonholes;

Stabilizers are a type of backing that supports the fabric, so it doesn’t pucker or stretch during stitching. It’s used in machine embroidery to obtain smooth, consistent stitching. Experiment with it. 

The longest possible straight stitch is considered a basting stitch (the one that we remove later). 

If other options are not available on the machine, you can use these sewing methods to make a stretch stitch. For example, by sewing a seam with a narrow zigzag stitch rather than a wide zigzag stitch, a stretchy or knit fabric will stretch with the stitching.

Think twice if you want a particular decorative stitch on your garment. These can be dense and difficult to remove.

Never skip testing your 

    • fabric, 
    • thread, and 
    • stitch combination 

on a sample before getting to the actual item.

When using a zig-zag stitch for buttonholes:

    1. We sew the bar tacks on each end with a shortened stitch length and a wide stitch. 
    2. We create the sides of the buttonholes with narrow stitch width and a short stitch length.

Different types of sewing
Image source: Pinterest

Also, if a straight stitch is puckering your fabric, adjust the length of the stitch. 

How to make tension adjustments?

These settings are available for the upper thread on the sewing machine and by way of a screw on the bobbin case. 

Read your sewing machine manual before making adjustments.

Hand sewing techniques
Image source: Pinterest

What about a needle when sewing a straight stitch?

You can change the needle position when you are sewing. It will change your guide to maintain sewing straight lines exactly where you want them. 

The margin for change ​depends on your sewing machine’s options. For example, machines with a zigzag option have at least three needle positions (right, left, and center).

Debbie Colgrove explains the idea of sewing needle position on The Spruce Crafts.

For the complete description of

    • blind stitch, and
    • stretch stitch,

check out The Spruce Crafts.

Sewing machine how to change sewing machine needle ss
Image source: Sewing

Are you into it as much as we are?

Then you will be thrilled to get to know other sewing hacks.

In the article “How to Use Different Sewing Machine Stitches to Create a Masterpiece,” on Contrado, good tips never stop flowing.  

As they claim on the website: 

“If you’re only just embarking upon your sewing journey or you’re a well-seasoned stitcher, chances are your machine has more to offer than you think.” 

Conquering the zigzag stitch
Image source: GoldStarTool

Quality sew and stitch 

If your stitching follows the rules mentioned, but something is off, consider potential causes. 

According to Sew Essential, stitch quality problems may include:

    • the stitches are uneven
    • your sewing machine keeps jamming
    • your machine is skipping stitches
    • your thread keeps breaking
    • the thread is looping on the top or bottom side of the fabric
    • the bobbin thread is pulling through to the top side of the fabric and vice versa
    • the thread is bunching up and ‘nesting.’

Cleaning sewing machine
Image source: Sew Essential

If this happens, know that you’re not alone.

Many sewers have similar problems, and there are proven solutions to them.

Lizzy talks about these issues in her YouTube tutorial: 

But we can also sum them up with the following points:

    1. Check you’re threading your machine correctly
    2. Change your needle regularly
    3. Use the correct needle type
    4. Use the right bobbins
    5. Use good quality threads
    6. Set tension correctly for different fabrics
    7. Maintain your sewing machine (cleaning and lubrication)

Read full descriptions on Sew Essential

Some tips sound obvious, some less. 

They are based on the practice of experienced sewers, so don’t overlook these hacks.