Hand Sewing Basics: Work Wonders with Fabric, Needle & Thread | Bernadette Banner | Skillshare

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Hand Sewing Basics: Work Wonders with Fabric, Needle & Thread

teacher avatar Bernadette Banner, Dress Historian & Filmmaker

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Tools And Materials


    • 3.

      Starting And Stopping


    • 4.

      The Running Stitch


    • 5.

      The Backstitch


    • 6.

      The Combination Stitch


    • 7.

      The Felling Stitch


    • 8.

      Sewing on Buttons


    • 9.

      Sewing Buttonholes


    • 10.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

If you think you can’t sew, think again! Join dress historian and YouTube star Bernadette Banner for a crash course in sewing by hand—all you need is a needle and thread.

Step into Bernadette’s studio and discover just how simple, soothing, and creative hand sewing can be. Drawing from her background as a dress historian, Bernadette breaks down the basic sewing techniques you need for mending or sewing garments by hand, from threading your needle to stitching fabric and sewing on buttons. By mastering just a few basic sewing skills, you’ll unlock the ability to create beautiful, long-lasting pieces from the comfort of your home or on the go. 

 Beginner sewists and sewing machine loyalists alike will learn something from hands-on lessons in:

  • Choosing the right materials for your project
  • Starting and stopping your stitches cleanly
  • Deciding which stitch to use when, and why
  • Mixing and matching sewing techniques with ease

Plus, unleash your imagination with tips, tricks, and examples from Bernadette’s history-inspired DIY wardrobe. 

Whatever you dream of creating, Bernadette’s warm, welcoming teaching style will empower you to make it a reality. Whether you’re an aspiring fashion designer or a hobbyist on a budget, by the end of this class you’ll have the tools, fluency and confidence to hand sew like a pro! 


This is a class for all levels, especially beginner sewists. To follow along, you’ll need some basic sewing supplies: a needle, sewing thread, scissors and practice fabric.

Meet Your Teacher

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Bernadette Banner

Dress Historian & Filmmaker


Bernadette Banner is a filmmaker and dress historian, best known for her YouTube channel documenting the exploration, reconstruction and interpretation of historical dress. Her work focuses on English and American dress predating the widespread use of the electric sewing machine, with a particular focus in the years of dress between 1890 - 1914; all reconstruction work is done by hand or with the use of period authentic machinery.

In addition to rediscovering the methods by which clothes were made in the past, the Bernadette Banner YouTube channel seeks to explore how we in the 21st century can learn from and adopt historical sewing techniques and attitudes towards dress in an effort to fight the effects of fast fashion and mass manufacture.

After some years working on cos... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hand sewing is the best place to start if you've never picked up a needle and thread before. Being able to do something repetitive with your hands that actually ends up producing a piece of art, effectively a garment, something that you can use and wear it's really cool. My name is Bernadette Banner, I'm a dress historian, so I study the history of what people wore. I run a YouTube channel which focuses on introducing the public to the importance of the history of dress in an entertaining and accessible way. I'm so excited to teach those class because I think sewing is just such an important skill. The ability for the individual person to be able to take control of the garments that we all wear in our everyday lives is very empowering, it's very liberating. In this class, we're going to cover the absolute foundation you need to sew pretty much anything by hand. We're going to learn how to start and stop your thread, as well as to thread your needle. We are also going to learn the three most important hand stitches. We're going to learn what these are, how to do them, finally, we're going to learn about buttons, how to sew on different types of buttons, as well as a little bonus on how to do the buttonhole stitch, which is a super strong stitch. If there's one thing I want you to walk away with, it is a greater appreciation of every elements of labor, every bit of care, every bit of craft that went into every single stitch in every one of your garments in a way that brings you joy. Let's get started. 2. Tools And Materials: Hello and welcome to the class. Today is a very exciting day. We are going to learn some hand sewing. Admittedly, I used to really hate sewing. It was time-consuming, it was tedious, I did not enjoy it until I started picking up hand sewing. I could really get a sense of physically tangibly how a garment was coming together. There was a whole other sense of magic in that the way that I learned how to hand sew was through the lens of how hand sewing was done historically so that was how I enjoy teaching it, because the way that garments are stitched historically is a lot different from the way that garments are hand stitched today. The sewing machine was only popularized and widely distributed in the 1860s, meaning that clothing was made very durably and made to last for centuries before that. It is possible to sew entire garments and entire garments that could last you a lifetime, just using your own two hands and a needle and thread. Because you do not need machines to sew things, it is therefore one of the essential apocalypse skills, which I think makes hand sewing sound pretty bad ass, but that's just me. One of the things that we're taught today, if you have taught sewing, is that we are taught that hand sewing is meant to achieve the tasks that machines can't necessarily accomplish. Therefore, we're not really taught how to sew strong and structurally, we have this idea in our heads that hand sewing is weaker, It's not as strong and that's completely not true. The things that you'll need for this class, and hypothetically that you will need to make an entire garment are as follows. Firstly, you will need some needles. I like to keep an array of different sizes of needles because they do come in various sizes. This is probably more sizes than you will ever need. If it were just me and I needed my absolute essential needle selection, I would go with this tiny little Number 10. This is a Number 10 sharp. This may not be your preference if your hands are a little bit bigger, if your eyes are not as sharp and you can't quite get the thread through the needle. If also you are working with a thicker thread, this won't be of much use. But I find that using a small needle helps me make my stitches a lot smaller and a lot finer and a lot more regular. This center one here is probably going to be best for starting out purposes. This could be a very good standard needle. You won't be able to get the finest of fine stitches, but if that's not your goal, then who really cares if it's easier for you to handle. This longer one is nice to keep in your needle kit just in the event that you have to do some basting, which is something we'll get into later. But it's effectively a very fast temporary stitch meant to hold fabric. It's very good because you can load up many stitches along the length of the needle and go very quickly. The final needle that could be very helpful for you is this is a tapestry needle. As you can see, it's not very sharp. You don't really want to be sewing with this too much unless you've got ribbon or cord or something fairly thick that you need the size of the eye of the needle to go through. This is really great because you can then thread that chord or that ribbon through a small channel. Either of these will allow you to make fairly small and neat and regular stitches while still providing ample eye room to thread the thread through. Also enough gripping room if that's something that you also require. The next thing that you will need to sew things is, of course, thread. Oftentimes you'll go to the fabric store, to the craft store, and pick up some thread and be on your merry way. But actually, there are many different fiber types of thread and many different weights of thread, and each of these have pros and cons depending on your specific sewing project or the part of your garment that you are intending to sew. Perhaps the most common and widely available and thus the cheapest thread is going to be your everyday polyester synthetic thread. This can be obtained very inexpensively. If you're on a budget, polyester thread can do you very well. Polyester is a petroleum-based synthetic fiber, which means it is effectively plastic. It is pretty strong. If you pull it very hard, it will break. The downside to polyester thread is that it is a petroleum-based fiber. If you are of the more environmentally conscious craftsperson in the world, then you may want to forego the polyester thread in favor of a natural fiber thread. The type of thread that I personally prefer to use the most is cotton thread. Cotton thread is also fairly inexpensive because it is very widely available and it is easy to produce. Cotton thread is not the strongest thread in the world. If you're doing a project that requires strength, such as button holes or if you're sewing together by hand, the seams of a very tight garment or for example, the underarm of a garment that will see a lot of pull and a lot of wear, you might not want to use unreinforced cotton thread. The next type of thread, this is also a natural fiber thread, is silk thread. This is fairly more difficult to find and it is a lot more expensive because it is a silk thread. In comparison to cotton thread, silk thread is a lot stronger. This is a fairly standard weight of silk thread, which would be used for general sewing. There is also silk buttonhole twist. This is the strongest of strong threads. This is the thread that you probably can't pull apart by yourself without the assistance of some scissors. This is primarily used for those areas that need that very hard wearing reinforcements such as button holes, which is why it's called buttonhole twist. The final type of thread that is often used in hand sewing is linen thread. It's a very unusual thread because it is a strong thread. It does take a little bit of force to break. However, because of the nature of the linen fiber, it's got barbs on it, which is how it's able to spin itself into threads. If you're using a length of linen thread to sew through a garment, those little barbs will catch ever so slightly so that by the time you get to the very end of your thread, you'll notice it's very frayed and it will eventually pull apart. It will become weekend. That's why whenever you use linen thread, you need to also have a block of beeswax. This beeswax gets just run a long the length of the thread a couple of times and this just helps to smooth out those fibers and let those barbs sit flat. This waxed thread is then dust wrapped in a little bit of paper and run through an iron just to really melt that wax into the nature of the threat itself. If you only have cotton thread or if you only have lightweight silk thread and you need to sew something fairly strong and durable, it can also help to wax that thread to give it a little bit more durability. The next most important thing, well, this one's going to be very brief. You will need something to cut stuff with. I like to keep a very small pair of embroidery snips in my little sewing band just because they fit. Many of you who sew will know of the seam ripper, which is a special tool that rips out any stitching that was done in error. But I actually don't use the seam ripper. I prefer just to use a little pair of embroidery snips. This also doubles as a means to take out any stitching that I do not want to be in my final garment. I do this purely because I don't feel like carrying around a whole other separate tool for that and this works perfectly fine. You can also, if you are trying to prove a very specific point about being able to sew an entire garment using only the tools in your tiny little makeup pouch, sides sewing bag, you can cut out garments with a very sharp pair of embroidery snips. The next most important thing for you to have is a thimble. If you are doing lots of hand sewing, you absolutely need to have some protection on your middle finger. This is a finger that you use to push the end of the needle through the fabric, which seems like it's perfectly fine, it's manageable, you can endure a little bit of pain. You're a strong person, but not after like the 5,000th stitch you've done, you don't need those calluses in your life. Its not worth it. What I would recommend for beginners, and this is something that you can also make yourself is a leather thimble, a soft thimble. It should be fairly strong and thick, tough leather so that the needle won't pass through it because that would be mightily uncomfortable. But a leather thimble will fit more comfortably to your finger, will be much easier to use and much more stable on your fingers. Hard thimbles are sized. This is not something that anyone ever teaches, which is so frustrating because having a thimble that's too big for you and it slides off and it's just annoying, turns people off of thimbles forever, and that's not fair. A thimble, when you put it on, and you hold your hand upside down, it should not fall off. This is essential because you will be using your hand in many different positions as you sew, and if you're a thimble is constantly slipping off, that is no fun. You don't want to be dealing with that. The final thing that is very helpful to have in your sewing endeavors are some pins. These can be obtained very inexpensively. These are just some plain straight pins. These are steel headed pins. I use specifically this type of pen because evidence of these exists all throughout history. I just like the aesthetic of that in my reconstruction work and the type of pen that you use doesn't matter. Ultimately, all you need to practice is fabric, anything that's woven, anything that can be stitched through. You can, if you're working on a garment, you can pick up that garment and start practicing your hands touching on that. If you have a scrap piece of fabric, you can also certainly practice your stitches on that. But I like to say until you start cutting into your fabric, any stitch that is put into a garment or a piece of fabric can be taken out. Meaning that you can practice on a tea towel, you can practice on the shirt that you're wearing right now, right here on your cuff, whatever fabric you have to handle the moment you can practice your stitches and then just rip it out if you decide you don't actually want that there permanently. With all that being said, grab your tools, grab your projects, and let us get a hand stitching. Be sure to share your stitching and your project progress down in the project gallery below so that I can have a look and see how you're doing. Next step will be starting and stopping your thread. 3. Starting And Stopping: This entire lesson is devoted to the art of starting and stopping your thread as well as threading your needle because having a strong foundation is essential in hand sewing. The two most common ways to thread a needle for the purposes of sewing are: threading single or threading double. For the most part, you should really only need to know the threading single method. Threading double is not quite as common just because it's a little bit bulkier. It's a little bit more cumbersome to work with. But to thread a needle single, which is how you thread the needle for most sewing purposes, you simply pass the thread through the eye of the needle as one typically does when threading a needle. You pull a little bit of a tail through a couple of inches depending on the length of your thread, but a couple of inches should do just enough so that when you are pulling your needle through your material, it's not going to unthread itself. You've got this much of a tail. As soon as you go to pull that needle out of your material, this could just flip right out and you don't really want to do that. Have enough of a tail so that there is that little bit of anchor room in there. You don't want to put a knot in here just at the eye of the needle. Just because this adds bulk, it adds just a little bit more circumference that when you pass your needle through your material, especially if you're working with the material that is more tightly woven such as silk taffeta, these materials show holes a lot more prominently, so you want to keep your needle and your thread as sleek and as slim as you possibly can. Threading double on the other hand, you simply pull the shorter end to match the longer end and then you have a doubled length of thread. This provides a stronger method of stitching because you will be stitching with effectively two links of thread acting as one. However, it will create a more bulky seam just because you have got the thicknesses of two threads passing through that. This can be very useful if you are trying to do something that needs a lot of durable strength such as button holes, eyelet holes where you need to just fill more surface area of a material. For the most part, most sewing is done simply with a single length of thread. To start your stitch, there are two different ways that you can do this. There is the back stitch method and then there is the method where you put a knot into the thread. The back stitch method is a lot more delicate, it's a lot less conspicuous. It is very popular with the Victorians who they say they absolutely detest knots in their work. The back stitching method is not quite as strong of an anchor as a proper knot in the thread but again, it is a little bit more conspicuous. If you want your knot not to be seen, then this is the method for you. Theoretically when you're stitching, you will most of the time be stitching through two layers of fabric. You will be stitching something to something at some point, whether you are stitching a hem on a single piece of fabric so you've got that folded edge here, or whether you're stitching something to something else, you will have two layers, which means you will also have a limbo layer in between which will not be seen either on the outside of the garment or on the inside of the garment. Say you want to start your thread around here-ish, you can enter your needle somewhere way off out of the way somewhere, and only go through that top layer of material. As you can see on the other side of the material, the needle does not go through, that thread is not going to be seen. You can bring your needle up to the point where you wish to start your thread, pull it all the way through so that the tail gets lost somewhere in that limbo. You don't know where it is, it's never going to be seen again. But that way you don't have to deal with tying a knot and then clipping that thread very, very close where the knot will eventually undo itself. It's just not a strong way to start. You want to be very delicate with this because this can just pull right out at this point. Take a stitch just the way is behind the exit point of that stitch and then bring it up just at the exit point previously exited and pull that through. Be a bit delicate with this first stitch because it is a little bit vulnerable. That is a back stitch. Just to make sure that that's very secure, I would go in one more time, out one more time, pull that through. You can be a bit more firm with this one because by this point, it has anchored itself. That is the way to begin it with a back stitch. Once you have anchored your back stitch beginning right there, you can then go ahead and begin your seam, but we will not quite yet begin our seam because we've got one more beginning method. This method begins with a knot and this can often be more secure than the back stitch, but will be a little bit more noticeable. For example, we want our knot to sit right here. We're going to start somewhere way off in the yonders of irrelevancy, make sure that we're going through only that single layer of materials, come up where we want our seam to begin, pull the thread through so that the end of that tail gets buried into nothing. Once again, we're just going to go a little ways back. The function of this is effectively much the same as back stitch method. The only difference is you're going to pull this most of the way through, not quite all the way through, and when we're left with this little loop here stick the needle through that. This effectively ties a knot in the thread and then that just gets pulled through to form the tiniest little knot. You can then if you want it to be super secure, go through and do that again. The more times you do this, the more conspicuous your knot will be. It's up to you if this is a seam on the inside of a garment that absolutely nobody is going to see then that is perfectly fine. Go ahead, you do you. This knot is just a little bit more irregular and a little bit more bulky than the nice, sleek smoothness of the back stitching beginning which will blend in with the rest of your stitches as you continue down. Once you reach the end of your thread, stopping your thread is exactly the same process as beginning your thread only in reverse. Say this is your final stitch just here, you're ready to stop, you then just take a little back stitch to meet the previous stitch, exit just the exit point of the current stitch. Then depending on whether you wish to have this be a back stitched finish or a knotted finish, either you will continue to pull this through and have that be a finished back stitch or if you'd like to knot this off, stick the needle through, pull that through and now you have a little knot. I would do this twice, whether your back stitching or knotting, just to make sure that that's finished off nice and securely. Then once you've got this thread, once again, we don't want to cut the thread just here because that tail will end up eventually undoing itself and loosening your seam. You want to do the thing where you enter the needle somewhere fairly unassumingly, pass the needle between your two layers of fabric without letting it come up either on this layer or on the underside of your material. Have the needle travel just centimeter depending on how much thread you still have left on your needle. Pull that through and then you can clip that just at the surface there so that that just disappears between the layers of fabric. You've got a nice knot with no excess thread visible. You do want to make sure that your thread before you go pulling it through into knots that it's not twisted in any way because if your thread is twisted, it will form other knots in places that you don't necessarily want a knot. Just being sure that your thread is pulling through neatly, that nothing is twisting around, you should be fine. By the time you have reached this ending point of your stitch, theoretically you should have stitch to seam. If you're not quite happy with the seam that you've stitched, you can pull it out and you can start again, that's the beauty of hands stitching. I will say however, don't let yourself get too wrapped up in the perfection of your stitches. The three most important things to keep in mind when you are starting and stopping your thread are that the thread should be secure, the thread should not pull out of its knot, and that the tail of the thread should not be seen. Go ahead and practice starting your thread through a double layer of material just to get a sense of how far away you need to start your thread to get that tail clipped nice and close to your material without pulling through. Next up we will start our first stitch. 4. The Running Stitch : The first stitch that we're going to begin with is the absolute fundamental, foundational, easiest stitch that you can do. It is the running stitch. It is fast, it is straightforward, it is super easy, it is effectively the stitch that you probably think of when you think of sewing. In and out, in and out, a series of small straight dashes. The running stitch is very great because it's very fast. It is very quick to put into a garment and it holds two pieces of cloth together. With that being said, the running stitch is not the strongest stitch. I wouldn't trust the running stitch to, say, hold together the seams of a very tightly fitted bodice. But the running stitch does have its uses, and that is, of course, that it is fast. If you do need to sew something onto something and you don't feel like spending a huge amount of time on it but it's an area of a garment that doesn't necessarily need to take a whole lot of stress. For example, this is the arm of a petticoat, and I put some decorative lace, just inserted in between the panels of the garment. This is an area of a garment that is probably not going to see a whole lot of strain, unless it's being regularly stepped on, which I don't plan to do that. It was more to my benefit in this case to running stitch the lace and because I could get it done super quickly and it wouldn't need to be the strongest portion of the garment. You can see just the tiny little running stitches showing through on the outside here where I've stitched the lace to the skirt. There are different degrees of strength that you can have with your running stitches. The finer the running stitch, the stronger it will be, but again, the longer it will take. I feel like that's a general running theme in sewing is, if it takes a long time, it's probably stronger, if it takes less time, it's probably not as strong. It's a little bit of a balancing act in deciding how you want to proceed with your different stitches on different parts of your garment. To begin your running stitch, first, you start off however you choose to anchor your thread, and then you simply place the needle in and bring the needle back up, and proceed. You want to try and get your stitches as relatively evenly as possible. It looks as if I'm doing approximately three to four threads per stitch taking up and passing over. You absolutely do not have to count your threads here, it should just be a rough estimation by eye, otherwise, you might strain your eyesight. The running stitch is great because it is just a straightforward stitch. The thread is just going in one simple straightforward direction. Which means that you can load up several stitches at a time on your needle at once. This is one of the features that makes the running stitch go so quickly. If you happen to be sewing on what is known as a one-to-one weave fabric, which means it's very clear that you can see the yarns in the weave of the fabric go straight across up and down in a very even and regulated manner, this type of cloth is actually the easiest to work with, especially if you're a beginner because you can follow the path of the fabric and get very straight and very even stitches. Once you reach the end of your stitch, you, just as we learned in the last lesson, finish this off according to your preference whether with a knot or with a back stitch. I have incidentally back stitched the beginning, and I'm knotting the end, which you may wish to be consistent with your starting and stopping methods, but no one is stopping you from doing whatever you so please. Within the running stitching family, there is another stitch. The primary function of the basting stitch is to be temporary. It is not meant to live in a garment permanently, but it's just meant to temporarily hold one piece of fabric to another piece of fabric until you can stitch it down more permanently and more strongly. Thinning does do this job. However, as you can see, when you place a pin into a piece of fabric, there is ever so subtly a little bit of work that it's introduced into that fabric. When you're trying to achieve a little bit more precision with your temporarily putting one thing on top of another thing, then it can be better to forgo the pinning and instead opt to baste your fabric. Basting is also great if you want to mark something temporarily on your fabric. For example, if you need a seam line, you need to draw a line where you need to stitch, but you need to be able to see it from both sides of the garment, then basting can be really good to thread mark, is what it's called in that circumstance. Just to do a little bit of marking in thread that's very easy to remove. That is the trick with basting, it should be fast and it should be easy to remove. Basting stitches are inherently a lot larger, you will need a longer needle in order to be able to gain that speed. To begin a basting stitch, you do not usually anchor your stitch. The idea with a basting stitch is that you want to be able to pull it straight out when it's finished, you don't want to go in with scissors if you don't have to. Basting stitch is definitely a lot longer of a stitch. It can be as long or as short as you desire it to be. It doesn't have to be neat, it doesn't have to be regular, it just has to mark where it's supposed to mark if you are marking something with a basting stitch, or simply hold your fabric pieces together. That's a basting stitch. Super-quick, super-simple, super straightforward. These stitches are quite long and I did them very quickly. That does mean however, that they are much weaker. As you can see, these longer stitches are much more prone to catching on things, they're then much more prone to breaking. They also don't quite hold the yarns of the fabric quite as firmly down, as you can see, because of the additional space between the fabric. There is a little bit more of a gap. You can get them quite as tight as you can. If your running stitches are very small, these, for example, are about three to four threads per stitch, these are going to be a lot stronger. They will take a bit more time though. Again, it comes down to the compromise between how much time you want to spend on your stitch, how strong you want it to be, etc. Go ahead and practice your running and basting stitches to your heart's content, and I will see you in the next step, which is the back stitch. 5. The Backstitch: The next most important stitch to know is the back stitch. The back stitch is a friend to the running stitch in that they both move ultimately in a forward direction in one straight line. The thing about the back stitch though is that for every stitch forward, you also take a stitch backwards. That dual pulling of the thread forward and backward makes that back stitch super, super-strong. A nice, sturdy, strong, properly done back stitch will actually outlast the fabric itself. Your seam will still be standing when the rest of the fabric disintegrates. It is not something if you read those historical romance novels where they're ripping their skirts and tearing off hems and ripping their [inaudible]. That's not exactly the most possible thing to do with the back stitch seam. This is a shirt that is entirely stitched by hand in the methods according to the 18th century, it was an 18th century style shirt which would have in the time period been entirely back stitch. The thing with these undergarments, this would have been a shirt worn right next to the skin. Linen fibers are the best to wear against the skin because they will absorb the moisture in the dirt from the skin. If you change these out every day and give these a wash, the outer layers of your clothes actually can last a lot longer without needing to be washed. Because these garments, these skin layers, these linen layers needed to be washed very frequently, they needed to be very strong. The seams of these would often have been done as strongly as they could. As you can see, this is done with a very, very fine small back stitch. These short, tiny little pinprick back stitches do take a lot longer, but they are very strong. To do a back stitch for yourself, once again, you start off your thread here so that you've got a nice anchored starting point. I have in this instance on a back stitch starting point. Because a back stitch, actually acts as a method of anchoring your thread, it's got that dual pull, which means unlike a running stitch which can just pull straight out like that, you can't do that with a back stitch. Once you have your anchored thread, you want to enter again just at a starting point, but you want to come up a couple of threads ahead of your back stitch. I'm demonstrating here with a fairly small back stitch. You can make your back stitch as large or as small as you feel comfortable, but just keep in mind that your back stitch doesn't have to look exactly like this. Once you have exited a couple of threads ahead, you want to bring your needle back, enter just next to your previous stitch. Then once again, bring your needle back up a little ways ahead. You want to be sure that you are regulating this forward distance here and repeating that in a uniform manner so that you can achieve fairly regular uniform back stitches. This will take a little bit of practice to gauge that by eye and once again, you probably don't want to be sitting there counting threads because who's got the time and patience to do that unless you do. When you're doing your back stitches, it is very important not to split your thread. For example, you don't want to put your needle right into this last thread because when you start splitting your threads, then you start weakening your threads. It's actually almost a bit better to place your needle a bit in front of and almost a little bit to the side of your previous stitch. With the fingers on the hand that are underneath your stitching, you can just gently as you insert the needle, make a forward pulling motion so that these threads on the underside here get pulled away from the needle because you also want to be sure that you're not splitting the thread on the underside of the fabric. This isn't something that you have to be absolutely meticulous about. If you split the occasional thread, that's absolutely fine. You just don't really want to make a regular habit of doing that. Back stitching can often take usually about twice as long as running stitching because you are doing twice the amount of stitching work. When you're pulling your threads, you want to make sure that your threads are pulled nice and tightly. This has to be gauged according to the type of fabric that you're working with. If you're working with a very lightweight fabric, you don't want to pull it too tightly or it will start to pucker. You'll have a bit too much tension in your seam and will look a little bit wrinkly. With more hard wearing fabrics such as this linen that I'm working with, you can pull it a little bit tighter. The nature of back stitching is because you've got this short distance traveled on top and a bit longer of a distance traveled on the underside. As you can see, you have to take up a lot more fabric underneath to get that stitch going from the back to forward of the next stitch. Your back stitch will look a little bit different on the underside than it will on the oversight. This will be a continuous line of stitching. Should be relatively straight if you're stitching is relatively straight. Whereas on the front side it will look a lot more like a series of very closely spaced dashes. This is something to keep in mind if you have a seam that may be seen on both sides just to make a plan for that and to decide which side of the seam you would prefer to see. Generally this working side here with the smaller dashes is the side that people select to be seen. For example, if you are working on one of those seams of a garment, as we saw on this shirt side, you see this fine pinprick side of the back stitching. Whereas this side is the side that gets folded over, as we'll discuss in the felling stage. But the seam allowance will be folded over that side, so you won't actually see that. Once again, this back stitch is very much on the smaller side of back stitching, but your back stitching can by all means be a lot larger to go a little bit quicker. Once again, you run into the issue of longer back stitches will be slightly less secure, but long back stitches arguably are slightly more secure than running stitches. Simply because you also have that dual pulling back and forth nature of this stitch. You can actually open up your seam a little bit and test to see how strong your seam is going to be just by gently giving it a little bit of a tug and seeing how much space you can see between your seam just there. Right here I've got very little space happening when I tug it. This seam here is pulled very tightly. It's going to be very, very strong. For example, here, just at the top where my stitches a little bit bigger, you can see there's much more of a gap because I've got the distance between my stitches a little bit longer, which means that this seam is not going to be quite as strong as you can see. In general, garments are not going to be seeing this amount of strain, but you do want to be sure that when you are pulling your thread through that you are giving it a really nice solid tug into place. That is one of the factors that makes the back stitch strong. Go ahead and give the back stitch a try yourself. Maybe turn on an episode of your favorite TV show just to get you into the flow of doing it. In the next lesson, we are going to be exploring a new stitch that combines the speed of a running stitch with the strength of a back stitch. 6. The Combination Stitch: This next stitch is called the combination stitch. Alternatively, it's also called the running backstitch. The combination stitch is a term specifically prevalent within the 19th century, you may have heard of it today as the running backstitch. I love this stitch so much, because it is effectively a hack between a running stitch and a backstitch. It is for every couple of running stitches that you take, you take one backstitch. You also get that little occasional anchor in the middle of the stitch, so that you can't just pull it straight out like you could a running stitch. This is a early 20th century reproduction of a lace skirt. We have all these layers of lace insertion. As you can see here, this stitch just up here holding the lace to the actual skirt itself has been combination stitch. For every couple of running stitches, you will see the unevenness of a backstitch happening. I selected to do this for this particular garment, because this is a very delicate material just here. This skirt is a lot longer than the petticoat we just saw in the previous lesson. The petticoat is meant to be a little bit shorter so that it doesn't show from underneath the outer skirt, but this skirt is an outer skirt. This skirt does go fairly close to the ground, and I wanted to be sure that even if I did step on the hem that I wouldn't risk pulling my layers of lace insertion out. Nevertheless, there is still about five meters of lace for each tier of lace going all the way around the hem, and that was a lot of hand stitching. I decided I wanted a little bit of the speed of the running stitch while also making sure I had a little bit of security with the occasional backstitch. To do a combination stitch, it is fairly straightforward if you paid attention in the last lesson, you will pretty much already know the techniques to perform this stitch. We're beginning with just a couple of running stitches. Let's do three running stitches. It's up to you how many stitches running you take between your backstitches, and it's also up to you how large these stitches are. Once again, I'm keeping mine quite small just so that they're a little bit more durable. Pull that through. You've got your running stitches, you've traveled already about one centimeter's distance with hardly no time or effort at all. Then you just take one backstitch meeting your previous thread, bringing that up again forward of the exit point of that last piece of thread, and then proceed to take three running stitches or whatever you decided that you did. This is obviously a very regular and metered version of a combination stitch. But I have also known and of course, practiced a bastardized running stitch in which you basically just running stitch to your heart's content. But every once in a while when you remember, or for example, if you're taking five or six stitches up on your needle while running stitching, pulling that through and then taking a backstitch, and then doing your five or six running stitches, pulling out through. But it's not metered or regular as I'm doing in this official version of a combination stitch in the event that your thread gets pulled. As you can see, unlike the running stitch, this stitch is not about to pull out, because we've got these little anchor points of the dock stitches every three stitches. When you're pulling your backstitch, you want to be sure you're pulling out nice and tightly. Once again, you can see I'm getting a little bit of puckering, because I have been pulling this a bit tightly. But you want to try and find a balance between pulling your thread as tightly as you can manage it to get that strength without distorting your seam. Opening up our seam to take a look at the strength. We can see the running stitches versus backstitches, and the difference in the spacing of the seam. We've got our running stitches just here, and our backstitch just here. We've got a little bit more strength and durability just at the center there, which will be very handy to have that every couple of stitches. That is the combination stitch. Go ahead and give that a try if you've already mastered the backstitch and the running stitch, or if you feel like mastering them both at once, go right ahead. Next up, we will be learning the filling stitch. 7. The Felling Stitch: The next stitch that we have is called the whip stitch, alternately called in history, the felling stitch. It is a stitch that moves rather than in a straight line like the running stitch, this stitch moves in a corkscrew, it moves in a spiral. Felling really does have a very special place in my heart just because it goes very quickly, but it's also relatively strong and it's a nice methodical, rhythmic stitch. It is not the most inconspicuous stitch, most of the time you won't see it unless you're very, very careful about it. But I think it can be quite decorative. Here is an example of a felled hem. This is a late 19th century reproduction garment. This is the side that you work the stitch from, and this is the side that will probably be the inside of the garment because the stitches will be the most noticeable. This is what your stitches will look like if you're sewing something on top. For example, if I were sewing a patch on here and I were whip stitching all around, this is what you would see, which is why I say it's not the most inconspicuous stitch. From the other side, it just appears a series of small little dashes. This is great, if you're hemming a garment, you can just work a hem from the inside, fell that down, and then all you see is the tiny pin pricks from the other side. This is a very, very narrow hem. A hem like this requires a little bit of practice, it requires handling the material a little bit. If you're just starting out in your felling or web stitching journey, maybe don't be disappointed if you don't achieve a hem of this length, but going for something between half an inch to a quarter of an inch is probably about realistic for beginner. Achieving a very narrow hem such as this does require a couple of extra little tips which we'll go over in a minute. To begin your felling stitch, first of all, you want to vary the end of your thread once again, under a multiple layer of material if that is at all possible. In this example of felling stitching, I'm felling hypothetically this edge of material to this ground layer of material. Alternatively, you can use felling to just do a straight hem. For example, that would involve just turning the raw edge, turning the raw edge again, and just felling this edge down. You would want to burry hypothetically the tail of your thread somewhere just up at the edge here where you know that that will get folded down and buried under your hem. The method of starting and stopping the thread is exactly the same as in any of the straight stitches. However, with the felling stitch, you are working with two layers of materials. You will insert your needle in the ground layer and then exit your needle just at the very edge of your top layer. Pull that through just a bit and at this point you will decide whether you are doing a back stitch or a knot. I personally prefer to knot my felling stitches just because with the backstitch you have to go diagonally, which I'm not sure if that actually makes it less strong, but I just prefer a little knot at the beginning of my felling stitches. I just do that again just to be sure that I'm absolutely secure here. Now I can begin the rest of my felling. The felling stitch works in a corkscrew. We are inserting the needle on the ground layer always and we are exiting the needle diagonally through the top layer pulling that through. Try and replicate not only this distance traveled here, but also the angle at which you are taking your diagonal stitches. Roughly I think I went about this distance, took about this angle. It may take you a couple of stitches just to get your stitches nice and even. You want to do your best to catch just the end of this top layer of fabric. If you come out too far into your top material, that stitch will be extremely noticeable. You'll see when I take the next stitch. Even if you haven't quite got your spacing perfectly even yet, you can at least make your felling look relatively aesthetically pleasing simply by following this rule of staying as close to the edge as possible. You want to be sure that you're pulling this as tightly as you can without puckering the seam so that you're felling is nice and strong. Now you'll notice the way that I'm holding this seam here. In order to get this top layer or if you're doing a hem, in order to get your hem to lay nice and straight and even, you do need to make sure not only that your fabric is in the right place, but that you have enough tension here. If your fabric is too loose, it will be in the wrong position, it could bubble, you could end up with things warping and it will just make your seam look a little bit less attractive. Keeping this tension as you're sewing each layer together will just help to keep your seam looking nice and neat and professional. This, after a couple of hours can get extremely painful on this hand. I have spent many a day running my poor injured hand under hot taps to get it to stop seizing up after a very long days of felling. It can help to pin your work to a cushion. It's important that the cushion is firm because if you have a cushion that is too loose, you can see trying to use this to tension your material, you'll end up just pulling half the material, the cushion along as you're trying to tension, it's just not a good time. Using a cushion that is nice and firm, this isn't going to go anywhere when I start to pull on it as you'll see but pending your work right at the base of the tension points. That is right along the crease of the seam, right where you are stitching. Pin that, make sure the pin is slanting into the direction that you're pulling it. Because if you slant it away, you will just end up pulling the pin out. This is how you achieve a very, very fine narrow hems, because this tension effectively does all the work of making sure that that hem stays nice and straight and you can make sure that it stays nicely tucked in really, really narrow without it hurting your fingers as much as doing that just by hand will do. You want to get your stitches to run as parallel to that crease as you possibly can. It won't be perfect obviously because these are diagonal stitches, but you can do your best. If your stitches are a little bit smaller, your stitches will probably be a little bit less parallel, just simply that is the nature of the shorter distance traveled, but there's only so much you can do about that. The larger stitches will be less noticeable. Especially if you know that you will be seeing these little pin pricks from the other side of the material, for example, if you are doing a hem and this will be seen from the outside, you may actually opt to do a larger stitch so that these stitches will be a little bit more further spaced out. Because the nature of the stitches that it moves in a corkscrew rather than a straight line, you will inevitably end up with a little bit of twist in your thread. This can actually happen in any of your stitches. Your thread may occasionally start to twist, but it almost always happens by the end of your thread in your felling stitching. This is not the greatest situation to have because this does leave your thread prone to knotting up on itself, which can be not the best time to have to unpick your knots every time it does that. If you do have some knots in your thread, all you have to do is slide your needle all the way up to the base of where it's exited the fabric last. Just gently run your fingers along this, let it untwist itself, then you can slide your needle back into place and continue stitching with a nice, straight, untwisted thread. You can finish this thread just as you began, either with a knot or a backstitch in this diagonal situation. Felling stitches are extremely useful for sewing things on top of other things, which I know sounds extremely vague but for example, sewing a patch onto another garment, sewing some trimming or some applique or something that needs to be sewn on top of another garment. Felling is also great for hem. For example, if you've got a raw edge on the hem of a skirt or a pair of trousers, all you need to do is to fold that edge down, fold it down once again to hide that raw edge, make sure that that's tucked neatly into your fabric, and then just felling stitch just along that edge there. That was the felling stitch, feel free to go ahead and give this a try I promise it's super nice and relaxing. Once you get into the rhythm of it, it's very difficult to stop. Next up, we will be talking about buttons. 8. Sewing on Buttons: Losing buttons is something that happens to all of us, and not all of us actually know how to put them back on. We put them in piles saying, I'll learn how to do that one day, and it just never gets done. Today, friends is the day we are about to learn how to sewn buttons on. Today I got two different types of buttons with me, and each of these gets sewed on slightly differently. It's super simple. Both of the processes for these, it will take you two seconds and it will improve your life tenfold. Here, first of all we've got what's called a shank button, which has got this little bit coming off the back of it, which means that it stands up. There are no holes in the top. It's purely decorative on the outside, but the stitching actually happens on the back of the button. Alternatively, you've got your classic button with holes. Let's begin with the shank button, which now that you understand the basics of sewing, should be one of the simplest things we've covered. I'm threading my needle double because buttons tend to need to take quite a lot of strain and might as well have a nice strong thread. The first thing to do is to anchor your thread. This is on the back of the garment, so not the side of the garment that's going to have the buttons sewn onto it. Make sure both of those tail ends with the thread get pulled through, and this is why it's important to make sure that both of those tails match up evenly. When you thread your needle. That way one end of the tail isn't pulling out the other end, just when the other end of the tail is only just disappearing. I'm taking one back stitch just in place. I personally prefer to use the method that puts a knot into the stitch on the back purely because this is a bit more secure than simply back stitching, and also because this is the underside of the garment, it's not going to be seen. Once that has happened, I can just stick my needle just at the base of that knot, bring it up to the other side of the material, which this is the correct side, this is the outside of your garment where you need to put your button back on. Slide the shank of your button just over that needle, and pull it through. The needle should then just enter immediately next to the exit point of the thread. That gets pulled through, securing that button into place, and you want to pull this fairly securely because these shank buttons do have this bulk on the back. If they are loosely sewn on they we'll just flop over and not be very interesting. Make sure it's pulled relatively tightly. Then it's just a matter of securing this a couple of times just to make sure that is super secure, which you can actually do now in one single swoop, inserting your needle just at the back here, making sure that is going through the whole of the shank, pulling that through, and then sending not just back through to the other side. If you're doing this with a silk buttonhole twist or a thicker thread, then you may only need to go through three or four times. But if you're using a thinner thread like I am here, you may need to go through six or seven times to get it nice and securely pins down. You've decided that you're button is complete. Back through to the backside of the material. Just take a couple of back stitches in place, and you can knot these if you feel like being super secure. If you're working through several layers of material, you can simply send that needle in, through only between that one layer of material out somewhere in the yonder of irrelevancy. Clip that into nothingness. That way, you've got a nice finished a little stitch on the underside and you've got a completed button on the outside. If you've got a button with holes in it, this one works relatively similarly to the shank button, but there's one additional little step that we need to take here. Once again, we're going to begin our stitch with an anchor. I have once again also double threaded this thread here. I'm going to send my needle from the back up through to the front of my garment, just where the buttons should be positioned, and I'm going to make sure that needle goes through one hole of the button. Now here's where you get to decide whether you want your stitches to be up and down, or side to side, doesn't really matter which is which. I'm going to go side to side, just because. I'm going to send that needle down through. Now for this one, you don't want to pull it super, super tight, and we'll explain why a little bit more in a bit. But just pull it so that that thread lies flat, but is not extremely pin down super firmly to the fabric. From the back of the material, come up through this hole again, down through this hole. I'm going to repeat this about three or four times. Again, fewer times if you are using a thicker thread. Once you've achieved that, you can come up now through the upper hole and once again down through that second hole. Once you have repeated the same number of stitches on this row as you have on the bottom row, you want to bring your needle from the back up to the front, just at the base of where all this is stitching is. But you don't want to come up through any holes. You want to come up just under the button there. Bring this thread up. Now, wrap that thread a couple of times very tightly around the base of that button because this button does not have a shank, it is flat, unlike the shank button, which comes with a little bit about three dimensionality. This button will need a little bit of a lift to keep it off the ground fabric so that there's a little bit of room for your garment to sit between the button and the fabric. Once you wrap that around a couple of times, just at the base of that massive thread under the button, send your needle back down through to the underside, and finish off your thread. It's surprising how little time it takes to sew one button super securely. Very often when we buy cheap or hastily made garments nowadays, they're not secured very strongly at the back. Meanwhile, doing a couple of little anchoring, not stitches, it takes like three seconds more time, but in manufacturing that's often something that's a little bit skipped over. Often if I'm feeling very ambitious, if I have a blouse that has been mass manufactured, I will often just take all of the buttons off in advance and sew them all on, nice and strongly so that I don't have to worry about being out in the world, losing a button and having to sew it on the fly, which is something that I can do because I know how to hand sew and you can too now. The techniques that have been outlined throughout this entire course, but especially in this lesson, will really help you to sew on buttons that really do stay where you put them. Next, we will cover the buttonhole stitch, which can be used to make your own button holes by hand. 9. Sewing Buttonholes: Finally, we are going to cover the buttonhole stitch, which can be used for many different applications, most of them on closures. We're going to cover the fundamental method of doing the buttonhole stitch. Then we're also going to address how the buttonhole stitch can be applied to several different closure methods. For example, you can use a buttonhole stitch to make nice strong, reinforced button loops. These are really great if you don't feel like cutting into your fabric as with a buttonhole, you would need to take scissors and actually physically make an incision into your fabric. Button loops are great because these can just be clipped off and then reposition wherever you want them to be. Buttonholes, on the other hand, are just used to reinforce this raw edge of material so that the button can pass in and out of this little slit in your fabric without damaging the fabric. Buttonhole stitching can also be used for worked bars. For example, if you've got a junction where two loose pieces of a garment meet at the hem of a shirt that splits off to give you a little bit more movement room. A worked bar just across that junction can help to take a little bit of strain to that scene that I want to split. A worked bar is also often really good to use as a point for hooks. If you've got a dress hook, but you don't have an eye for that hook to go through, you can't just make your own out of thread. That hook can just hook onto that reinforced bar of thread for you to close the garment. Finally, buttonhole stitch is can also be used to secure hooks and eyes to your garments. If your garment needs to hook together and it needs to hold very strongly, a buttonhole stitch all around that edge can be very useful. It's also extremely decorative. This is the method that you would use to buttonhole stitch across any free-floating item of closure. For example, the worked bars or the button loops that aren't necessarily into the fabric itself, but they're are free-floating entities made entirely from thread. In order to do that, if you are making for example, a worked bar or a buttonhole, you first want to, of course, anchor your thread on the underside of your material, bring that up to the outside of your material, and then bring that thread straight across and back down. This should be whatever width that you would like your finished worked bar to be. Or if you're doing a button loop, you leave it as a loop like that. If there's a button to be passing through this, you would leave enough space for the button to pass through but the thread would enter once again, just at the base here instead of coming across. Don't pull it too tightly, but don't make it too loose. Just let it sit naturally across that expense. I would put two or three widths here. I'm using a thick buttonhole twist for this purpose, so I'm only doing two, but you may wish to do three or four if you're using a thinner thread. Once I have established my initial thread base here, I'm going to anchor this just to secure that into place. Bring the needle back up to the correct outside of the material. Now, this is how to do the actual buttonhole stitch. You want to put your needle just under these threads. Bring the needle about halfway, and then take the tail of a thread that's coming out of the eye of the needle. Bring it around, wrap it over the needle, and then under the needle, and then you pull the needle through. This creates a small knot just at the base of the thread, just there and you want to make sure that that's pulled nice and tightly. We're putting the needle halfway through, wrapping that over and under, and then pulling it. When pulling you're not into place. You want to be sure that you're pulling it in the same direction every time so that the knot sit nice and straight and evenly. Every time I'm choosing to pull my knots in an upward direction because I want all of the knots to sit on that side of the bar. What this does is effectively it ties a series of knots all along that length of thread, which reinforces it, making it so that it can withstand more tension. It can be held by hooks, it can hold buttons, it can hold two sides of the garment together, and it won't snap. Once you reach the end of your bar where you can no longer fit anymore knots along your length there. You can just send that back down at the base of where your initial base threads have begun, and just secure that on the underside. There you have a little worked bar. If you want to do a buttonhole, the stitching process for that is exactly the same, but the starting process is a little bit different. First of all, it will be important to measure how wide your button is. You will have to mark on your material, roughly how wide to make your buttonhole, which should be about the width of your button. It should be able to fit comfortably. You'll then want to take a small scissor and gently cut a straight of a line as you can. Once you've made your cut, it is then usually a good idea to just test and make sure that your button goes through. Good, and as we can see, the function of a buttonhole is to reinforce this raw edge here so that we don't have to deal with this for the rest of our lives. We're going to start from the underside of the material, and we are going to just put a little anchor into the thread. Then flipping it over. I'm going to bring the needle up through the slit of the buttonhole. This is only the first stitch, so we're not actually doing an official buttonhole stitch quite yet, but I'm just going to bring the needle back down roughly where I want the buttonhole to sit width-wise. This is going to be a distance that I will have to remember because I will be repeating this along the rest of the buttonhole. I'm then bringing the needle back up through the slit of the buttonhole. You're going to put your needle in. However, at whatever depth you wish the buttonhole to be wide, the needle is passed through the slit and then out at the same level to the entry point of that stitch down there. We're going about halfway through and then bringing the tail of the needle over and around just as we did with the worked button in the previous step, and then this is getting pulled. The buttonhole stitch should always be pulled so that the knot rests at the edge of the material just there. Once again, passing the needle through the slit, exiting the needle level to the previous stitches over and around so that we tie a knot in our thread, which then gets pulled to cover the edge. Then this just gets repeated indefinitely. When you reach one of the short ends of the buttonhole here, the technique is a little bit different. Spoiler alert. It's actually the same technique as a worked bar. To form this ending reinforcement bit, I'm going to place the needle in through the exit point one end, bring it up through to the exit point at the other end. I'll just do that again so that I form a nice little bar of thread just across there. By bringing the needle, I want to catch just the smallest bit of the ground fabric so that the stay secure and the worked bar doesn't just free float across the buttonhole. It's best to endeavor to do an odd number of stitches along this be it three, five, seven however thick your thread is and however big your buttonhole is. Two of these stitches will sit along the first half here. One will sit just in the center where the buttonhole opens. Then two more and will sit just on the other side here. This thread can then just be passed through to the underside of the material once again and finished off. The thickness of your thread does play a difference in how thick your buttonhole is. For example, if you're using a thicker such as this silk buttonhole twist, your buttonhole will be a lot thicker, will be a bit more reinforced and a lot stronger, and would be a lot faster to do. Whereas thread that is a lot thinner will look much more delicately, but we'll take it a little bit longer to do. Because this edge is now securely finished with neat little rows of knots just sitting along the edge here, this raw edge is no longer exposed to the button as the button passes in and out of the buttonhole. This is essential if you want your clothing to last at all. Otherwise, you will button it a couple of times and it will just disintegrate. I have in all of these examples and this entire lesson been using contrasting thread for your ease of visibility. However, if you want your button hold to blend in a bit more with your fabric, then do be sure to use a buttonhole thread that matches your fabric. I mean, this buttonhole is a statement, but maybe you don't want it to be seen quite so much. That is the buttonhole stitch. Do feel free and go ahead and give this a try if you feel a little bit ambitious. This is a slightly more difficult stitch than the three that we previously learned. Just go ahead and practice your buttonhole stitch a bit first before you dive into the actual buttonholes, which are difficult. Even highly experienced people who sew still always have to do a practice buttonhole before they do a buttonhole on the real thing. It is a slightly more difficult stitch, but I completely believe that you can do this. 10. Final Thoughts: Congratulations, you have now made it to the end of this class. You should now have a pretty firm understanding of the foundational stitches that you need to do in order to make pretty much any garment entirely by hand. Of course, you don't have to jump into making entire garments right away, right now, but you can definitely, if you so choose, you can alter any existing garments that you have in your wardrobe, you can refashion or restyle anything that you feel like could use a little bit of an update. You can also perhaps tackle a little bit of your mending, if anything has a little bit of wear and tear, any buttons missing, I do expect all of those to be reattached, or if you just want to do a little bit of extra stitching practice before you move on to actual garments. These stitches are all extremely versatile and have hundreds of different applications, and I'm sure you will find a use for them. Do feel free to take some pictures and share in the project gallery down below. Thank you for watching, and goodbye.