How To: Hand Sew A Slip Stitch


Hand sewing often gets a bad rap. It can be thought of as tedious and time consuming, but the level of precision and impeccably clean finishes that can be achieved with practice are often overlooked.

Today's tutorial walks you through the slip stitch. Slip stitches allow you to join seams, at the waistband or collar for instance, hem garments, and enclose item without the presence of any visible stitches. This is useful if you're working on a project that can't be sewn by a sewing machine like a pillow seam for instance. There are instances when you're working with a delicate fabric, and a line of stitching at the hem would disrupt the fabric and overall appearance of the final garment. Alternatively, if you're working with a bulky fabric hand sewing may save you from trying to wrestle a folded layer of fabric underneath your presser foot. 

The photos below demonstrate how to use the slip-stitch to hem a garment, but you would apply the same stitching pattern for the other applications mentioned above. 

Pin and press your fabric in place. In the picture shown above, the raw edge was folded 1/2" (1.27 cm) and pressed, and then folded another 1/2" (1.27 cm), pressed, and then pinned. 

At the start of your seam, partially unfold your hem. Insert your threaded needle so that it comes up through the fold which will anchor your thread, and hide the knot at the beginning of your seam. 

Once your thread is pulled through, fold the fabric back down.

Insert the needle into the main fabric, directly below the exit point of your needle from the fold. Catch a thread or two of the main fabric.

Then, insert the needle back through the fold, about 1/4"(0.635 cm) to the left of your previous stitch. Pick up, or slip through, about 1/4" (0.635 cm) of the folded fabric before exiting. Gently pull your thread taut.


Moving another 1/4" (0.635 cm) to the left, pick up another thread or two from the main fabric. Repeat the previous two steps until your hem is finished. When you get to the end of your seam cut your threads leaving a thread tail. Knot your thread tail, and using your needle or a pair of tweezers tuck the the knot and thread tails under the folded edge.

When you turn your garment so that the right side is facing up you should see a smooth finish!

How do you feel about hand sewing? Let us know in the comments.