How to Hand Sew

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Knowing how to do a few simple stitches by hand can be a lifesaver from time to time. This article will show you how to do several quick mends. Ripped a seam on your favorite shirt? Is the button about to pop off? In just a few simple steps, you'll be able to repair it quickly, and save yourself some money in the long run!

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing Needle
  • Thread (in appropriate color)
  • Thimble (optional)

How To Do Simple Hand Sewing

  • Match the thread you're using as closely as you can to the existing thread that was used in the garment you're repairing. Cut about a 3 foot length of the thread. You don't want to work with too long a length or the thread will tangle and knot up. The fun or frustrating part is threading the needle. Even though that little eye seems to wink shut, don't give up! The thread really will go through there. Once you've beaten the winking eye, pull the thread through until the ends are even. Tie the ends of the thread together with a simple loop knot. Now you're ready to learn a few simple mending stitches.

  • Mending a ripped seam: Turn the garment inside out and smooth out the seam area. Starting where the rip begins, stick the point of the needle into the fabric, down through both sides, and back up again, using a weaving in and out motion. Use just the tip of the needle to do this, so that your stitches are as small as possible. Pull the needle and thread through the fabric until the knot is seated. Repeat this stitch in the same place to lock your thread in. Using the same in and out weave, work your way down the seam towards the end of the ripped area. Sew in as straight as line as possible. When you get to the end of the rip, repeat the lock in loop. You'll need to knot the thread off before you cut it. Thread the needle under the last stitch and pull it through just until you have a small loop left, then thread the needle through this loop and pull it tight. Cut the thread off and enjoy your newly mended shirt!

  • Sewing on a button: Hopefully, you have the original button, but if not you can use the closest match you can find. make sure it's the right size to fit through the button hole. Holding the button where it needs to go, stick your needle through the backside of the material and bring it up through the material and through one of the button holes. Now put the needle back down through the other button hole and material back to the backside. Continue this back and forth sewing about six times. On the last pass through, from back to front, bring the needle up through the material under the button, so that your thread pulls out between the button and fabric. Wrap the thread around the button several times. This raises the button slightly off of the fabric and makes it easier to get through the button hole. Push the needle back through to the backside of the material and tie it off. As simple as that, you have fixed or replaced a button!

  • Mending a skirt hem: Turn the skirt inside out and smooth down the hem. Start your repair by taking a small stitch where the original hem is still intact. To do this, push the needle in and out on the backside of the hem only. Create the lock stitch and you're ready to begin. For this repair, your stitches need to go across the hem line. Push the needle down through the fabric just above the hemline fold. Bring the needle and thread back through, just catching the hemline fold. Continue stitching in this pattern until you reach the end of the rip. Keep the stitches where you go under and back up as tiny as possible, as this stitch will show on the right side of your skirt. When you get to the end, simple lock the stitch and tie off the thread.

  • Practice: As with anything, the more you practice, the better you will get. Practice hand sewing on old pieces of clothing, or scraps of material. You'll find that these basic hand sewing stitches will come in handy, time and time again.

Tips & Warnings

  • Thimbles can make hand sewing much easier for some, or very awkward for others. The thimble slips over the end of the finger that you push the needle with. I would suggest using the soft leather finger thimble that slips on like a glove finger. The standard hard thimbles can take some getting used to.

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