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How to Lock in Sewing: a Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners (2024)

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Welcome to the wonderful world of sewing! Locking your stitches is an essential skill in any sewist’s toolkit. This article will give you the knowledge and confidence to securely finish off all types of projects.

You’ll learn how to lock in both hand-stitched and machine-stitched seams, as well as troubleshooting tips for when things don’t go according to plan.

Key Takeaways

how to lock in sewing

  • Locking stitches are essential for creating secure and professional-looking garments in sewing.
  • Proper selection of tools and materials, such as thread, needles, and thimbles, is necessary for secure stitching.
  • Knotting techniques, such as double knots or ladder stitches, add extra strength to the stitches.
  • Adjusting tension, using backstitching, and cutting threads close to the fabric are important tips for creating secure stitches, both by hand and on a sewing machine.

The Basics of Locking in Sewing

The Basics of Locking in Sewing
Locking: Sewing your stitches securely is an important part of any project. When hand sewing, select the appropriate needle size for the fabric and thread you’re using. To secure a stitch with a knot, leave at least 6 inches of thread on your needle before looping it into the last stitch.

For machine stitching, adjust both tension control and stitch length to make sure end stitches are extra secure. Make sure to use the reverse button when 3/4 inch from the edge and backstitch several times before forward stitching to lock in place.

Finally, use proper knotting techniques like double knots or ladder stitches for additional strength depending on what type of slip stitch is desired.

The Tools You’ll Need

The Tools You
You’ll need the right tools and materials to lock in your sewing for a secure finish! Professional tailors, like Andrea Beaulieu, know that selecting the right thread, adjusting tension on the foot pedal of your machine, or using hand-sewing needles with thimbles are necessary steps.

It’s helpful to use a needle threader when working with small needle eyes, and securing knots can be done by double knotting through loops. To ensure perfect stitches every time, it’s important to use quality supplies like Dritz thimbles and threaders, which will make locking stitch easier during construction.

A lighted threader also helps you see better when stitching finer fabrics, while ladder stitches create an attractive look between folded edges.

Choosing the Right Thread

Choosing the Right Thread
When choosing thread for your project, consider the fabric you’re using and select a thread that will blend in with it. Thread selection is important to get tension control when sewing. This ensures smaller stitches so they don’t unravel easily.

You’ll also need to determine what type of needle works best for the job at hand, depending on whether you are doing hand or machine stitching. For most projects, fashion designer Andrea Beaulieu recommends a universal needle size 9-11 as these work well with most fabrics and threads.

It’s also essential to know how long your thread should be. About 18 inches allows enough slack for basting stitch but not too much that would cause tangling while sewing a full tutorial garment piece or something intricate like doll clothes where smaller stitches are critical in locking the last stitch securely without fraying when pulled apart from each other later on.

Following these guidelines can help make sure all of your hard work stays intact!

Understanding the Importance of Tension

Understanding the Importance of Tension
Maintaining the right tension while sewing is essential for a successful project. It ensures that your stitches are even, secure, and look professional. To achieve the desired results, you must consider four important things: embroidery tension, stitch tightness, fabric choice, and pattern selection.

Embroidery tension refers to how tightly or loosely thread is pulled through fabric when making running stitches or folded edges. Stitch tightness depends on the type and size of thread used. Thicker threads require more force to pull through thick fabrics than thin ones do.

Fabric choice should be based on the kind of garment you’re creating and what types of patterns will best suit it. Heavier fabrics like denim may need larger needle sizes than lighter ones such as silk chiffon.

Lastly, choose a pattern carefully so that all seams match up properly with no puckering or stretched-out areas due to incorrect stitching tensions! Ensure that your knots are visible only from the wrong side, not the right side, by double knotting at the end, looping nearest stitch, then pulling tightly after sliding the needle in the loop before trimming excess near the knot for a clean finish backside fabric.

Setting Up Your Sewing Machine

Setting Up Your Sewing Machine
Setting up your sewing machine can be a daunting task, but with the right tools and knowledge, you’ll soon be stitching away! Before diving into any project, it’s important to make sure that your machine is set up correctly.

First, select the appropriate needle size and thread for your fabric type. Use this helpful table below as a guide:

Fabric Type Needle Size Thread
Lightweight Cotton or Silk 60/8 – 70/10 All-purpose polyester
Medium-weight cotton or Linen 80/12 – 90/14 All-purpose polyester/cotton blend
Heavyweight denim or canvas 100/16 – 110/18 Mettler heavy-duty cotton/polyester blend

Next, adjust tension according to the thickness of fabric being used. Consult the manual if unsure where the tension dial is located on your specific model.

Once these settings are adjusted properly, use the needle threader provided by some machines (or manually) to pass the end of the thread through the eye of the needle.

Lastly, before starting, sew a small amount by hand using the middle finger of the hand holding the material towards the backside while pressing the foot pedal, allowing one stitch at a time.

Locking Stitches by Hand

Locking Stitches by Hand
To securely finish off your stitches, double knot them like a lasso for added assurance. The size of stitch you use will depend on the fabric being used – if it is lightweight, then smaller stitches are best.

You’ll need to leave at least six inches of thread on your needle before starting the loop technique. To do this, insert the needle under and pull through to make a loop that’s an inch wide or more.

Lastly, trim any excess threads close to the fabric with either scissors or a small thread cutter from Dritz, suggested by Andrea Beaulieu, a fashion designer and professional tailor owner of MOORE specializing in pattern making, draping & construction of garments who holds a BS degree in UNCG Greensboro Fashion Design/Merchandising.

For an even neater look, opt for ladder stitch which creates ladders between folded edges. However, don’t forget about using reverse button 3-5 backstitches while machine stitching as well as hand wheel when making a few end stitches together with having visible knots only on the wrong side, not the right one.

Cutting near the fabric, not the needle, and avoiding pulling out yarns all help lock sewing, creating strong seams that are hard to be pulled apart without unraveling.

Locking Stitches on a Sewing Machine

Locking Stitches on a Sewing Machine
You can make end stitches even more secure on a sewing machine by adjusting the stitch length. This is especially important when working with heavier fabrics or professional-looking projects.

Fashion designer Andrea Beaulieu recommends using thread tension, fabric selection, and needle choice to ensure that your stitching looks polished and neat. To lock in any type of stitch you choose, such as straight or zigzag, use the backstitching technique.

When finished sewing your project, cut close to the last stitch instead of near the needle so that the thread won’t pull out easily from the fabric surface. Lastly, inspect the right side of the fabric after finishing up all ends. Three lines overlapping indicate that the knot was tied correctly and securely without unraveling when pulling apart pieces of material.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Troubleshooting Common Issues
If you’re having trouble locking in your stitches, don’t fret – there are some simple troubleshooting tips to help.

Start by checking the stitch tension; it should be neither too tight nor too loose. If this doesn’t work, consider changing your thread selection as different threads have different weights and textures that can affect how well they lock into place.

Next, make sure your machine is set up properly for the fabric type you’re using and adjust any settings accordingly.

Finally, try experimenting with knotting techniques such as doubling up on knots or making a small circle before tying off the end of a stitch for an even stronger lock with extra security.

Andrea Beaulieu from MOORE in New York City recommends these tips when stitching garments together; so if all else fails just remember her advice!

Tips for Maintaining a Secure Lock

Tips for Maintaining a Secure Lock
By following these tips, you can ensure that your stitches stay firmly in place with no chance of unraveling. Be sure to tightly bind the fabric when stitching by using backstitching techniques and adjusting tension as needed.

After stitching is complete, double knotting the thread will create a very secure seam. To prevent pulling out threads, cut close to the fabric instead of near the needle eye before completing a stitch.

Dritz Apparel Workshop offers helpful tutorials on specific sewing tasks, such as an overcast stitch for right-handers or creating a strong seam using their Actual Size feature.

Taking Your Locking Skills to the Next Level

Taking Your Locking Skills to the Next Level
Now that you have the basics of locking in sewing, it’s time to take your skills to the next level. To do this, it is important to understand tension adjustment and thread selection for extra precision.

Additionally, different knotting techniques can be used on seams for a neat finish.

Here are five tips to get you started:

  • Adjust tensions appropriately to ensure consistent stitches throughout an entire project.
  • Choosing quality threads, such as those from Dritz, will help with durability.
  • Mastering basting stitches takes practice but provides extra strength when seaming fabrics together.
  • Reversing direction when using a machine guarantees secure knots at end points.
  • Using a pair of sharp scissors or pinking shears helps prevent fraying along seam edges.

With these tips in mind and regular maintenance of machines used, your projects should look professional enough even for marketing industries!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between hand stitching and machine stitching?

Hand stitching requires more precision and patience than machine stitching. It uses needles, threaders, and thimbles to secure fabric in place with various stitches like basting or backstitch. Machine sewing is faster but can be less precise than hand sewing when used on small spaces or doll clothes.

What type of thread should I use for locking stitches?

For locking stitches, use a strong thread such as nylon or polyester for the best results.

Is there a difference between a regular and a lighted threader?

Yes, a lighted threader is different from a regular one. It has an LED light built-in to make it easier to thread even the smallest of needles. Additionally, its shape allows for faster and more accurate threading, giving you greater control over your sewing project.

Do I need to double knot the thread when ending a stitch by hand?

Double knotting the thread when ending a stitch by hand is recommended for extra security. Leave at least 6 inches of thread on your needle and make two loops before inserting the needle through to create a secure knot.

Is it necessary to press the reverse button when locking stitches on a sewing machine?

Yes, pressing the reverse button is essential for locking stitches in place securely. Cut the thread close to the fabric and make 3-5 backstitches before forward stitching to the end.


In conclusion, locking in sewing is a valuable skill for creating professional-looking garments. To achieve the best results, ensure that you use the appropriate tools, thread, and tension for the project.

Hand sewing and machine stitching both have their own techniques for securely locking stitches. Finally, after completing the project, practice troubleshooting and maintaining a secure lock to keep your garments looking great.

With practice and the right tips, you can master the art of locking in stitches for any sewing project.

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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.