DIY Sewing Basics: Hand Sewing and Simple Stitches

DIY Sewing Basics: Hand Sewing and Simple Stitches

DIY projects can range from reupholstering furniture to mastering a hot glue gun — and everything in between. One standard skill is sewing, which can be used to reimagine fabrics into entirely new DIY masterpieces. Some of us were lucky enough to have a pretty solid home-ec class while others were taught to sew by parents or grandparents, but it might be your first time encountering the need to sew...and that’s okay! Today, we’ll be touching on the very basics of sewing including how to hand sew, tie knots, pick a sewing style, and even when to opt for hot glue instead.

How to Hand Sew

Hand sewing is a great place to start. Sewing machines can be a bit of a monetary investment if you’re not sure if you even enjoy sewing yet. Especially for one-off sewing projects, keeping it simple and especially “DIY” via hand sewing is more than enough.

Thread a Needle Like a Pro

To start, you’ll need to thread a needle. Even the best DIYers know that threading a needle can be a frustrating task. (Like, really frustrating.) Some big tips include:

  • Threading the needle against a piece of printer paper for better visibility
  • Cutting the thread with sharp scissors to prevent frayed ends from catching the edges of the needle’s eye
  • Or, use a needle threader! Needle threaders are considered a basic tool and often come with sewing needles themselves. If you happen to have gone without, you can purchase them in almost any sewing section.

To use a needle threader, insert the diamond-shaped wire into the eye of the needle. Thread your thread through the wire, keeping hold of it in one hand. Then pull the needle away from the threader and up the wire, passing the thread through the eye of the needle.

Tie the Perfect Knot

Tying the perfect knot can ensure that your sewing holds up for eternity — as opposed to needing repairs in the near future. To tie the perfect knot,  place the end of the thread on your pointer finger, holding it in place with your thumb. Wrap it around your pointer finger a couple of times. Use your thumb to slide the thread loops towards the end of your pointer finger so the loops wrap around one another as they move down your finger. Lastly, slide the loose knot to the end of the thread and tighten. Boom! A secure knot you and your fabric can be proud of.

Pick the Right Type of Sewing Technique

Before we dive in, there is something to note! Sewing often refers to the “right” and “wrong” sides of fabric. All this means is that the “wrong” side is typically hidden within the fabric piece, whereas the “right” side is what you see.

Running Stitch

A running stitch is the most simple hand stitch you can do. It’s typically used for bringing layers of slippery fabric together, but if done with enough tiny movements, could be used for gathering. Bring your needle up from the wrong side and put it back through a little ways away. Continue this movement with equal intervals until you’ve gone as far as you like. Then knot your thread on the wrong side.


Need to sew something sturdy? Try a backstitch! Backstitches are best for seams you’d like to keep permanent, or for reinforcing fabric weak spots. It’s notably strong and flexible, so it’s a win-win for most of us. To do this stitch, put the needle up to the right side of the fabric. This position should be slightly in front of the seam’s start. Then, put the needle back through the fabric behind where it came up. Bring it back up again a stitch length in front, and repeat the backwards motion. Continue this process until you’ve hit the end of the seam, tie off, and enjoy!


Whipstitching is preferred in the DIY community because it helps join layers of fabrics together at the edges. It’s ideal for attaching linings, patches, or other miscellaneous pieces. For this stitch, you'll likely want to pin the fabric pieces in place before beginning. Bring your needle up to the right side of the fabric, looping it around a bite of fabric from the unelayer before bringing the needle up again (though a little ways away). Pull through, and repeat. The end result will look like pieces of fabric looped together by thread.

Slip Stitch

Ah, so you’re ready for a bit more complicated of a stitch? Welcome to the whipstitch’s older sibling: the slip stitch. Much like the whipstitch, you’ll be joining fabrics by looping bites of fabric together. The catch is that the slip stitch requires closer proximity of stitching. By reducing the amount of space between thread points, the stitch becomes essentially invisible — making it ideal for those hand sewn garments.Bring your thread through the right side, as close to the folded edge as you can, and then take just a tiny bite of fabric out of the edge. The finished stitch moves in more of a horizontal direct with little vertical movement, as opposed to the simpler whipstitch.

When to Opt for a Hot Glue Gun

Getting to the end of this article and still feeling like you’re not quite ready to dive into the world of sewing? You’re certainly not alone. We all have different strengths when it comes to DIY, and sewing might not be yours! Glue guns can definitely be used on fabric, though you need to make sure you’re using the right glue gun and glue stick for bonding your fabric or other porous material.

Get More Out of Your DIYing With Project Home DIY

Whether you’re a sewing lover or loather, we can all agree that DIY projects challenge us in all the right ways! If you’re looking for more ways to get into DIY, we’ve got just the place to start. Project Home DIY is a DIY subscription service run by passionate DIYers hoping to spread the fun of learning more practical (and crafty!) skills. 


When you subscribe to Project Home DIY, you get one subscription DIY box complete with all of the supplies you need to create one handcrafted decor item, delivered right to your doorstep every month. If you’re ready to get started ASAP, you can visit our site now to see past monthly boxes and purchase them! All new subscribers receive a complimentary starter tool kit alongside their first box, and of course gain access to our subscriber-only social groups! Subscribe today to kickstart your DIY journey, and keep up with our blog for more DIY tips and advice!

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