Long ago, in days gone by, when covered wagons crossed the west (are you becoming nostalgic yet,) women folk had homesteading skills. One of those skills that could be elevated even to an art form was sewing by hand *gasp* By hand you say!?!?! Yes! Fast forward to today and while a few homes may still have sewing machines, very few people use them anymore. We have become a society of replace, not repair. Which is very sad in my opinion. And it is rare to find a women that still takes hand sewing to the elevated form of art. When was the last time you sat around cross stitching with friends on a Saturday night? I’m just say….
So why then if we can replace instead of repair, or have the dry cleaner do our hems (no I have NEVER used a dry cleaner, I don’t think I own a single thing that requires one) why then should anyone in this day and age learn to hand sew? Because, I said so!! Honestly though, think of the money you can save by hemming your own items, replacing buttons, or how amazingly awesome you will be to your children when you can fix their favorite stuffed animal that has seen better days! There is satisfaction in doing it yourself and pride from a job completed by your own hand.
Hand sewing requires very few “tools,” takes up very little space, and who knows, you might even find a new hobby by learning just a couple of simple stitches! So go get some thread, needles, and scissors and let’s get to work learning the basics of hand sewing.
The Basting Stitch
The basting stitch is usually sewn with a single thread. The purpose of a basting stitch is to temporarily hold pieces of fabric together until final sewing by hand or machine. Honestly I rarely, if ever use a basting stitch. If I am temporarily holding something together, I use pins. That being said, this is a great stitch to start with for practicing your spacing. The stitches are farther apart then the running stitch. Once you get down sewing even stitches like the basting stitch, sewing a running stitch is easy.
The Running Stitch
The running stitch is a small stitch, sewn with a single thread for securing two pieces of fabric together (like delicate work on clothing.) However, having the country kids…. I always double my thread, my family, well they are rough on clothes. A double thread is a must on those overly loved stuffed animals too. You can also double your thread to pull fabric into gathers, like little bags. A single thread would not have the proper strength for pulling.
The Back Stitch
The back stitch creates a strong, secure seam. The front of your fabric will have a nice row of stitch, and the back will look like longer overlapping stitches. Make a stitch like you would for a running stitch but then on the next stitch go back behind where the needle just came out. Your needle should then come back out ahead of the last stitch. Think of it as a one step forward, half step back kind of deal. This is a good stitch to use when hand sewing pillows.
The Hem Stitch
Now depending on how “good” you get at this (which isn’t hard) you can make this stitch “invisible.” Simply fold over the edge of the fabric you wish to hem. You can iron it if you want, it will help you keep your stitches straight. Once you have tied your single thread to the material with a knot (on the inside fold of fabric) this stitch is fairly simple to do. You simply go from inside folded fabric with larger stitches to the outer fabric (the side people will see) with tiny stitches. Don’t pull your thread to tight or it will pucker. While this stitch is easy to do, it is hard to explain, so check out the photos.
I personally am lazy and tend to fall back on a running stitch for darn near everything I do, which is a shame because really there are so many reasons to use the proper stitch for the job. But in my house, even when fixing socks, I use a double threaded running stitch. While it may not be as pretty, it sure holds up against the men folk in this house!
So why not get a needle (choose your size depending on fabric type, the thicker the fabric the bigger the needle) and some thread and try practicing a few stitches. You never know, you might just be a natural! And think of all the great things you can make or repair once you hone your skills.
**Homestead Tips on Tuesday is a weekly series where we help you learn skills, tips, and trick to help you on your journey of homesteading. Many places post list of things you should/could do as far as homesteading skill, but I feel lists are at times overwhelming and can make people give up before they even start. So every Tuesday I share one thing for you to try or consider. I hope you join us every Tuesday and I would love to hear about your adventures with each weeks topic.**