Skip to Content

Hand Sewing for Beginners: Basic Stitches and Projects (2024)

This site is supported by our readers. We may earn a commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through links.

hand sewing lessons for beginnersAlready know the basics of using a sewing machine, but want to expand your skills? Hand sewing opens up a whole new world of crafting possibilities. In this comprehensive guide for beginners, you’ll learn hand sewing techniques that let you fix holes, replace buttons, and create small projects without lugging out that heavy machine.

We’ll cover everything from choosing needles and thread to mastering stitches like the running stitch and blanket stitch. With just a needle and thread, you can make beautiful embellishments like fabric yo-yos and repair treasured items by hand.

I’ll walk you step-by-step through the fundamental hand sewing skills so you can get stitching. Whether you need to mend clothes or make a cute st■ animal for a gift, this class has you covered.

Let’s reconnect with the simple pleasure of needle and thread – no electricity required.

Key Takeaways

  • Select smaller needles and finer threads for delicate fabrics, larger needles and heavier threads for thicker fabrics.
  • Use a thimble for finger protection and precision. Make sure it fits snugly but not too tightly.
  • Practice basic stitches like running stitch and backstitch on scrap fabric before sewing projects.
  • Start with small, simple beginner projects like sachets to build confidence before moving on to more advanced techniques.

Needles for Hand Sewing

Needles for Hand Sewing
You absolutely must have needles as ginormous as your arm for hand sewing, my friend! Pick your jaw up off the floor, I’m just playing with ya.

The truth is, you’ll want a variety of needle sizes for hand sewing. Smaller needles work best for delicate fabrics like silk or linen. You’ll glide through the fabric without leaving big holes. Larger needles stand up to thicker fabrics like denim or canvas.

Trying to force thick thread through a wimpy needle leads to frustration – trust me.

A good rule of thumb is to match the needle size to the thread thickness. Heavy topstitching thread calls for a needle with a large eye. Delicate embroidery floss slides easily through a finer point. The key is that the thread moves smoothly through the eye and doesn’t shred or fray.

Don’t let me catch you wrestling to thread a needle! It should be a zen-like experience, meditative and gentle.

Take time to find the Goldilocks needles that are just right for your fabric and thread combo. With the perfect needle, your stitches will be smooth and even. Your fingertips will thank you.

Soon hand sewing will feel natural as can be, bringing you joy with each running stitch and backstitch.

Choosing Thread for Hand Sewing

Choosing Thread for Hand Sewing
Selectin’ thread for hand sewin’ ain’t as overwhelmin’ as it seems. Take a breath and let’s break it down, stitch by stitch.

The key is matchin’ thread to fabric so your stitches blend in. Here are a few tips:

  • For light fabrics like cotton or linen, go with cotton thread. It’s flexible and won’t leave marks.
  • Wooly fabrics like tweed or felt pair nicely with wool threads. They resist frayin’ and give wool its natural look.
  • Silk thread is lustrous and strong. Use it for silky fabrics or special details. The sheen adds subtle beauty.

I’m often asked about thread thickness too. Finer thread works for delicate fabrics – it won’t poke holes or warp seams.

Color matters too! Aim for thread that matches or complements your fabric hue. Contrasting threads can make pretty accents if you want ’em to peek out.

Most importantly, let your materials guide you. Trust your instincts, and your hands will follow. With practice and patience, you’ll get a feel for what threads sing in harmony with your fabrics.

Then you can stitch, snip and sew to your heart’s content, creatin’ your own handmade heaven.

Using a Thimble

Using a Thimble
When it comes to hand sewin’, protectin’ your fingers is critical. After coverin’ thread types, let’s chat thimbles before we start stitchin’.

Slippin’ a thimble on helps guide the needle and saves your fingers from poke holes! Made of metal, leather or plastic, thimbles fit on your middle or thumb knuckle, wherever you push the needle best.

As you sew, the thimble takes the brunt when the needle pokes through the fabric.

Thimbles also give you control to precisely pierce the fabric. This prevents the needle from slidin’ off course or damaging delicate materials.

Tailor your thimble size to your finger for a snug fit. Too loose and it’ll slip off mid-stitch. Too tight and it’ll cut off circulation makin’ your finger numb, which defeats the purpose.

It may feel foreign at first, but practice makes perfect. Soon that thimble will feel like a natural extension of your hand.

Now you’ve got the basics – needle, thread, fabric and thimble. A few starter stitches and you’ll be on your way! Keep at it friend, you’re learnin’ a life-long skill stitch by stitch.

Basic Hand Sewing Stitches

Basic Hand Sewing Stitches
Needle ready? Let’s dive into some essential hand stitches to start building your stitching skills. The straight running stitch joins seams while the backstitch reinforces them for durability. Add a blanket stitch along edges for decoration or to prevent unraveling – these three have you covered for basic projects.

Running Stitch

Bout time we covered the most basic stitch for hand sewin’ – the straight ‘n even runnin’ stitch.

This easy peasy stitch is the backbone of hand sewin’. Master it first before movin’ on to fancier stitches.

  • Keep your thread taut
  • Use a thimble
  • Go up ‘n down evenly

Poke the needle up through the underside, then back down a short, uniform distance along the fabric top. Continue this motion in a straight line to produce the runnin’ stitch. Adjust your stitch length and keep your tension steady for straight, solid seams.

Once you get the rhythm with consistent spacing, you’ll whip through hems and seams in no time. Practice on some scrap fabric until it becomes second nature. This fundamental technique opens the door to creative stitches down the line.


Now y’all stitch a stronger seam with the backstitch. This stitch is mightier than the runnin’ for sewin’ seams that handle tugs ‘n pulls. Sink your needle up through the backside, then down just ahead where the thread came up.

Scootch your needle back up that original hole, advancin’ the thread. Continue this back ‘n forth, linkin’ each stitch to the last.

Your thread will crisscross over the seam to create a durable line that won’t loosen under pressure. An oldie but goodie passed down for ages, the backstitch builds muscle in hand sewin’ before movin’ on to a machine.

Blanket Stitch

You all accent a pretty edge with the blanket stitch. Loop your thread under the fabric’s hem, then over the edge to the front. Insert the needle back down a little ways along, bringing it over the loop and pulling through.

Continue this rhythm of stitches linked together like chain gangs to make a row. It binds layers of fabric while embellishing hems, towels, and blankets with texture.

Don’t tug the thread too tight or pucker the material. Let the needle lead your hand in a fluid dance, like I’m teaching in this here hand sewing course.

Sewing on Buttons by Hand

Sewing on Buttons by Hand
You’ll need to tackle both shank buttons and flat buttons. Shank buttons have a small loop on the back to provide space between the button and fabric. Flat buttons lie flush against the fabric. Follow the guidelines for your button style to neatly and securely attach them.

For shank buttons, thread a needle with a double thread about 18 inches long. Knot the ends. Place the button on the fabric’s right side where you want it positioned. Bring the needle down through one hole and up through the opposite hole.

Repeat this a few times to secure the button. Knot the thread on the fabric’s wrong side.

For flat buttons, thread the needle as for shank buttons. Mark the fabric where you want the button. Sew a few stitches at that spot to serve as a shank and provide space under the button. Place the button on the right side of fabric over the stitches. Bring the needle down through one hole and up through the opposite hole.

Always use a thimble to push the needle and tightly sew on buttons by hand. Take neat stitches for a professional finish.

Shank Buttons

You’d be sewin’ those shank buttons in a jiffy! With the right technique, you’ll have ’em attached quicker than your grandma finishes piecin’ a quilt. Now ain’t that a stitch in time? Just grab your button, thread, and needle and I’ll walk ya through it.

Start by threading your needle with a double strand of thread. Tie a knot at the end and insert your needle up from underneath your fabric right where you want that button. Now pull the needle back down, leaving a little slack. Place your button on top and push the needle back up through one of the holes.

Insert your index finger under the button to form the shank – that little space allows the button to actually button. Sew through the opposite hole and repeat this in-and-out motion several times. To finish, stitch right over the threads between the button and fabric.

Make sure to secure everything with a knot on the underside before snip-snipping your thread.

Flat Buttons

When attachin’ flat buttons, gotta remember to wrap the thread right over the button with a criss-cross stitch before knotting off on the underside.

Now, flat buttons ain’t got no shank so we need that thread to hug ’em real tight to the fabric. Start by cuttin’ a tiny piece of fabric and placin’ it under where you’ll stitch your button.

Next, thread your needle with some bright color thread and tie a knot at the end. Push your threaded needle up through the fabric from the underside and pull it through til the knot catches.

Place your button on top then zigzag the needle down through one hole and back up through the opposite.

Lastly, stitch over the threads between the button and fabric in an x shape without sayin’ finally.

You’ll be buttoning up handmade treasures in no time!

Hand Sewing Seams

Hand Sewing Seams
Let’s sew those seams together real quick n’ secure, ’cause a sturdy garment’ll make it all worth it.

When hand sewing seams, thread choice makes all the difference for achieving clean, durable results. Select a thicker thread that matches or blends into your fabric color. For lighter fabrics like silks or cottons, go with cotton thread.

Sturdy fabrics like denim and wool can handle polyester or nylon thread. Make sure to use a longer 24-36 inch length so you’re not rethreading constantly.

Thread your needle and tie a knot in the end. Use your dominant hand to push the needle smoothly through both layers of fabric, keeping the seam taut. Take small 1/8-1/4 inch stitches for a tidier seam allowance. Keep them straight, even and tight together without visible gaps.

Don’t pull so tight that the fabric puckers. Aim for 10-12 stitches per inch for best durability.

For truly invisible seams on sheers or linens, try a lighter weight invisible nylon thread. It essentially disappears into the fabric. Just be gentle pushing the needle to avoid breaks.

Well-sewn seams will withstand years of wear and washing. Your handiwork will prove sturdy despite the tediousness, and you’ll take pride in clean construction details.

Making Fabric Yo-Yos

Making Fabric Yo-Yos
Take that circle of fancy fabric and gather it up real cute ’round the edges to birth a fabric yo-yo, a fun decorative touch on any sewing project.

  1. Cut pieces of fabric into circles using a cup or plate template. The bigger the circle, the fuller your yo-yo.
  2. Thread your needle with sturdy nylon thread and make a knot.
  3. Holding the fabric circle in one hand, take tiny basting stitches to gather the fabric around the edges. Pull tight as you go to form the yo-yo shape.
  4. When fully gathered, take the end tails of thread and tie a double knot. Bury the excess thread inside the yo-yo so no ends show.

Add yo-yos as embellishments by hand sewing them onto garment edges, pockets, collars, or hems. Cluster them together for a fuller effect or sprinkle them sporadically. Contrast them against the main fabric or match them seamlessly.

Either way, these sweet gathered bundles inject charm and whimsy into any project.

Yo-yos work well on kids’ clothes, aprons, bags, blankets, and more. Make a bunch ahead of time in different fabrics to have on hand. Mix colors, patterns, textures for unlimited variety. Wherever applied, fabric yo-yos are sure to delight.

Finishing Hand Sewing

Finishing Hand Sewing
You’re set now that those final few stitches snugged everything up. So gently tug the last loop tight and stitch-over those thread ends ’til they disappear for good. Don’t rush to cut those threads just yet! Take a moment first to reinforce and secure those stitches so they hold up beautifully.

Run the needle back through the last few stitches and pull the thread taut. Make a knot right up against the fabric, then take the needle back through the knot a few times to really lock it in place. Clip the thread close to the knot so no ends are left dangling. Voilà! Your hand sewing is complete and all tidy.

If you secured buttonholes or sewed on buttons, check that the spacing allows easy fastening. Give each button a gentle tug to ensure it feels firmly affixed. Smooth any ruffles in the fabric around seams and hems too.

Now step back and admire your hand sewing mastery! All those careful stitches came together to create something unique and functional. The personalized touches you added make it extra special. Wear or use your item with pride, knowing your talents brought it to life.

And next time inspiration strikes for a project, you’ll be ready to pick up a needle and thread again. Hand sewing connects us to traditions past while allowing self-expression. However you choose to stitch, enjoy the journey of mindful creating.

Hand Sewing Projects for Beginners

Hand Sewing Projects for Beginners
After mastering some hand sewing basics, you’ll be ready to start simple projects. Don’t be intimidated – even beginning sewers can make fun, functional items with just a needle, thread, and a bit of creativity.

A great first project is a scented sachet. Pick a pretty scrap of fabric and cut two squares about 5 inches across. Stack them with right sides together. Sew around the edges using a 1⁄4-inch seam allowance, leaving a 2-inch opening.

Clip corners, turn right side out, and press flat. Fill with dried lavender or a potpourri blend. Hand stitch the opening closed. Tie a ribbon at the top and hang in a closet. The sweet aroma will make you smile each time you see your handmade creation.

For another easy starter project, sew a matching set of coasters. Use thicker fabrics like felt or denim so they withstand condensation rings. Cut four circles about 4 inches in diameter. Blanket stitch around the edges in a contrasting thread color.

Stack the coasters and tie a bundle with twine as a housewarming or hostess gift.

Start simple, be patient with yourself, and have fun as you learn. Don’t fret over imperfections – they give handmade projects character. The pride in creating something with your own hands is a special feeling. Let your first projects be stepping stones to a lifelong hobby that brings personal satisfaction.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I keep my stitches neat and even when hand sewing?

You’ll achieve nice, even stitches by maintaining a steady pace—don’t rush. Keep one hand underneath the fabric to brace it. Use your thimbled hand to push the needle through in smooth, consistent motions.

Focus on technique rather than speed. With practice, neat stitches will become second nature.

What are some good beginner hand sewing projects I can start with?

Try sewing simple items like pillows or tote bags. Start with fabrics like felt or cotton that are easy to sew. Practice basic stitches like the running stitch on scrap fabric first. Move on to making simple clothes or accessories once you feel comfortable with stitching.

How do I avoid getting stabbed by the needle when pushing it through the fabric?

Use a thimble on your pushing finger to protect it from the needle. Keep the fabric taut in your opposite hand and push the needle straight through in one smooth, steady motion.

Varying your motion and keeping even tension on the fabric will help the needle glide cleanly through. Take care not to push or jab – a gentle, smooth technique is best. Build up finger calluses if you’ll be sewing a lot.

And don’t sew when overly tired or distracted, as accidents happen more easily then.

Is there an easy way to thread the needle? My eyesight isn’t great.

Try using a needle threader! Slide the wire loop through the eye, grab the thread with it, then pull the thread back through. It’s a simple tool that makes threading effortless for anyone. You’ll be stitching in no time with this handy trick.

What supplies do I need for hand sewing? Is there any specialty equipment I should get?

Needles, thread, fabric, and a thimble are supplies needed for hand sewing. Needle and thread types depend on the fabric. Thimbles help push needles safely. There’s no need to worry about specialty tools yet – just focus on mastering hand stitches before adding fancy gadgets.


Through these simple stitches and starter projects, you’ve picked up the needle and thread and started stitching your own hand sewing journey, friend. Though once an old-fashioned craft, we’ve seen that hand sewing still gifts us warmth, savings, and satisfaction today as it did for our grandparents before.

Keep your eyes pinned to the horizon. Continue practicing and learning new techniques to grow your sewing skills. With each prick and pull of the needle, cherished creations worthy of your care and time await.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.