How many types of sewing stitches are there? There are 22 types of hand-sewing stitches and 6 types of machine sewing stitches. These stitches I should add are used for holding pieces of fabric material together including sails.
Learning to sew is a skill that comes in handy when you have to mend your shirt, dress or pants if the hem comes off or if it rips and can be repaired. For seamstresses like me, we use this craft for making clothes for ourselves and those that appreciate our style. 😊
However, for us that love making clothing, we continue studying and mastering our sewing skills.
We are aware of the kinds of stitches we can make by hand and those that are only made through sewing machines.
To make things much easier for you, I shall walk you through the different types of stitches so that you are also in the know…
To reiterate, there are a plethora of sewing stitches that are both standard and decorative. But, I am going to start with the basics.
Hand Sewing Stitches
Hand sewing stitches are the primary path to learning this skill.
Techniques such as embroidery ( passing the needle from the fiber’s back to the front and back again) and quilting ( sewing together two or more fabric pieces) are essential for quick repairs and finishing off small sewing projects.
Even for us the experienced sewing machine lot, we often use hand sewing stitches to get the best results.
Wait…before I define the different types of hand stitches, I need to remind you something. You will need thread and a needle to start practicing the stitches.
Hand sewing needles are sold in all kinds of shapes and forms. Some of the most common hand sewing needles you can find include:
- Sharps: general purpose hand sewing needles
- Quilting/Betweens: perfect for quilting
- Ballpoints: great for knitting fabrics
- Cotton Darners: the best for darning
- Crewel/Embroidery: perfect needles for thick thread
- Tapestry: great for stitching hand knits
- Chenille: an excellent needle for decorative finishes on heavy fabric
- Milliners: an excellent needle for basting, decorating and pleating
- Leather: a triangular leather needle which cuts as it enters the fabric
- Beading: a thin needle for beadwork, pearls, and sequin
- Upholstery: a perfect needle for hand tying quilts, upholstery on mattresses and furniture
- Doll: a perfect needle for sculpting fabric dolls
With a majority of needles, the smaller the size number, the larger the needle. Needles with a more extensive tip work well for thick fabrics while finer needles are perfect for delicate fabrics.
To make the stitches of your choice, you have to thread the sewing needle. If your eyesight is not as sharp, and to add if your hands are shaky, threading a needle can be quite tedious.
Use a magnify and hold the needle and thread against a white background in a well-lit room. Cut the thread at a 45° angle, and slide it in through the needle hole.
After getting the correct size of thread you need, you have to make a knot to hold in place the end of the thread when you start sewing.
Now we can have a look at the different types of hand sewing stitches…
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Back tack: also known as backstitches, you make them by sewing backward, they form a straight line.
They are mostly used in outlining shapes and adding finer details to embroidered pictures. Finally, back tack stitches are wonderful for holding two fabric pieces firmly.
Backstitch: this versatile form of stitch that covers both intricate and smooth stitch outlines. One line of backstitches holds together fabric.
Basting stitch: basting also known as tacking is the process of making quick and temporary stitches. Basting is used for trimming or seaming in place until when it gets sewn in permanently.
Blanket stitch: A stitch that strengthens thick material edges. The decorative stitch appears on both sides of the blanket.
Blind stitch: a stitching method that joins two fabric pieces leaving the stitch nearly invincible or invincible.
Buttonhole stitch: the stitches are packed together tightly and most times resemble the letter “L.” they’re made to prevent the woven fabric from raveling.
Chain stitch: these are a series of looped stitches that appear like a chain-like pattern. They are often used in macrame, tambour lace, crochet, and needle lace thanks to their form flowing, curved lines.
Cross stitch: the stitches are made in a cross (+ or X) shape. They are popular in needlepoint and embroidery designs which use several related stitches.
Catch stitch: the stitches hold in place a folded piece of fabric thus preventing it from unraveling. A hemstitch is usually the last stitching done on the garment.
Darning stitch: a stitch that is mostly handwoven on worn fabric areas, knitting or for repairing holes. The thread gets woven in rows along the fabric grain.
Embroidery stitch: the stitch is made by moving the needle from the fiber’s back to the front and the end again. It can be singular or some stitches that get executed similarly thus forming a figure.
Hemstitch: it’s defined as a decorative openwork or drawn thread stitch that embellishes household linens or clothing hems. They are made using contrasting colors thus making them noticeable.
Overcast stitch: a stitch that is used for enclosing unfinished, raw edge or seam. Its role is to prevent the fabric from unraveling.
Pad stitches: these are stitches that are placed perpendicular to the stitching line. They combine two or more fabric layers thus adding firmness. At times, the suture is used in firming up overall layer curvature.
Pick stitch: this is a smooth running stitch that passes through a few fabric threads. The stitch appears minimally on garment’s outer side.
Running stitch: a basic stitch which forms the base for all the other sewing. The stitches run through the fabric and can have varying lengths, but a sizeable chunk of the same remains visible on the sewing top as opposed to the underside.
Sailmaker stitch: a stitching type that stitches together awnings and sails where it’s impossible to use a machine.
Slip stitch: a type of stitch that fastens two fabric pieces together. The stitch runs from the right side, and the thread doesn’t show.
Stoating stitch: a stitch that joins together two woven material pieces. The raw edges get placed together thus hiding the stitches from appearing on the cloth upper side.
Tent stitch: a small, diagonal stitch that crisscrosses over a vertical and horizontal intersection canvas. The stitch forms a slanted 45° angle.
Topstitch: the stitching design is either functional or decorative and appears from the garment’s exterior.
Whipstitch: The stitch that makes it easy to sew a seam quickly. It also acts as a source of additional strength when tacked where there’s backstitching. Whipstitches are also used for finishing patch edges.
These different types of stitches are just the most common and necessary.
The more you gain experience in sewing the higher the chances of discovering newer sewing methods that will work for your craft. Now let’s jump into the next lot of more complex stitches…
Sewing Machine Stitches
There are sewing machines designed to offer basic stitches, while the more intricate devices provide upwards of 100 stitches!
We shall take a journey through some of the most common stitches that you need to know of…
It happens to be the most popular stitch in construction sewing. The stitch comes out strong, straight and both threads (bobbin and upper) interlock regularly.
The length of the stitch acts as this stitch’s adjustment. The longer straight stitch is a basting one which comes off quickly. However, the shorter stitch is firm on the fabric and takes a lot of effort to remove.
The stitch is perfect for sewing stretch fabric. It’s a straight stitch that stretches without popping or breaking.
A simple sewing machine with a narrow zigzag stitch and a straight stitch can create stretch stitches through the narrow zigzag stitch.
High-end sewing machines come with a plethora of sewing stitch designs. Decorative stitch options are rear but excellent for decorating and embellishing.
One way to get the hang of using this type of stitches is by using different kinds of threads and be as creative as you can be. You will have to experiment with stabilizers to achieve smooth and consistent stitching.
This is a standard stitch that is unfortunately not present in all kinds of sewing machines. The stitch sews hems in place while leaving behind minimally visible stitching.
In a majority of sewing machines, stretch blind stitches, and straight blind stitches are standard features. The type of fabric being sewn determines the kind of blind stitch used.
Use straight blind stitches for non-stretch or woven fabric and stretch blind stitches on stretchy fabric.
Zigzag stitches closely resemble the letter “W” where every W connects to the next from both sides. The suture is continuous and is used mainly for enclosing raw edges.
A zigzag stitch assumes the role of a stretch stitch if there are no other available options. A narrow zigzag stitch stretches the fabric making it ideal for stretchy pieces.
It’s possible to adjust both the length and width of a zigzag switch. The adjustments are predicated to how narrow or wide the “W” formation gets.
Buttonholes that are manually made use zigzag stitches in a variety of lengths and widths. The buttonhole sides are sewn in with a short stitch length which creates narrow stitch widths.
The bar tacks, on the other hand, are sewn using a wide stitch and a shortened stitch length.
Stretch zigzag stitch: this is a stitch that is done through the “W” formation and makes it possible for stitches to stretch without breaking the thread.
A series of looped sutures that form a chain pattern are also created through machine sewing. Although it’s an ancient Chinese craft, sewing machines have perfect the art and make better-looking loops.
Also known as a damask stitch is composed of numerous flat stitches sewn for covering a segment of the background fabric.
The stitches are done through basic sewing machines that come with either a special satin stitch foot or through a zigzag stitch.
Back stitches play a big part in outlining shapes and adding the panache to an embroidered fabric thanks to the lines they form.
Back stitches are used as utility stitches that bind together two pieces of fabric thanks to their rigid nature.
Double or Holbein running stitches come with the second row of stitches that work in reverse direction in between the running stitches to strengthen the whole stitching series.
There you go…my extensive knowledge into the different types of stitches for hand and machine sewing.
But before I sign off, I need to explain something, seam finishes, and their purposes….
When two or more fabric layers are held together by stitches, the join their form is called a seam.
There are different types of seams, and each is achieved using unique techniques.
The whole point of having a seam is to prevent raw fabric edges from raveling and adding a smooth, neat texture to the final fabric.
Here are the different types of seams in use today:
French seam: the seam is sewn where the two wrong sides are together. The seam allowances are then shaved off and pressed.
A second seam is done with the right sides together thus closing in the original seam raw edges.
Lapped seam: the seam is used in materials like felt and leather which don’t fray. The two layers overlap where the right lower layer side is pressed against the wrong side of the top layer.
Plain seam: The most popular sewing machine seam. It joins together two fabric pieces, and you can apply either cording or poping to finish.
Flat/abutted seam: the seam joins together two fabric pieces from edge-to-edge. The stitching is famous in linen chemises and shirts.
By familiarizing yourself with the above, different types of stitches and seams, you will have relevant knowledge you can use on your sewing journey.
If you know of any other kinds of stitches I failed to mention, kindly do share the knowledge, it will benefit us all…