Picture of how to sew.

This instructable will cover the basics of hand sewing - tools needed, threading the needle, knotting the thread, running stitch, basting stitch, backstitch, slipstitch, blanket stitch, whip stitch and finishing with knots.

Please comment with what you'd like to learn! I know this is not everything that needs to be covered, so I'd like input from everyone to see what you all want me to cover. :D

Here are some other tutorials that should be useful to help you learn how to sew:

And some beginner projects for you:

Step 1: Basic sewing tools.

Picture of Basic sewing tools.
These things will make you a nice little sewing kit:

  • Needles - You'll want to look for "sharps" for basic sewing. "Betweens" are used for quilting. "Embroidery" or "crewel" needles have larger eyes (an eye is the hole at the top of the needle) and are used with thicker threads, like upholstery or embroidery floss.
  • Scissors - You'll want a good pair of shears (normally sold with names like "dressmaking shears") and a pair of pinking shears. Pinking shears have small triangular teeth that cut the fabric in a such a way that it lessens unraveling. Smaller embroidery scissors are also good for cutting threads.
  • Pincushion & Pins - You'll pin most everything you sew to keep the fabrics from slipping. A pincushion keeps them neat and tidy.
  • Measuring tape - For measuring. ;)
  • Air soluble/water soluble marking pens: perfect for embroidery and using patterns!
  • Seam Ripper - This will help you correct mistakes.
  • Beeswax - Sounds odd, I know. But essential for hand sewing. When you run your thread over the beewax, it gives the thread a nice coating that will keep it from tangling and make it stronger.
  • Thimbles - These can be wood, leather or metal. They'll keep your fingers from getting sore and/or pricked.
  • Thread or Floss - An all-purpose cotton thread is good for most things. However, there are many threads to choose from. You'll often pick thread based on your project - cotton fabric = cotton thread, silk = silk thread, etc. Floss is much thicker and normally comes in six-string strands. You'll use this for embroidery and finishing.
  • Fabric - Might I recommend going to your local sewing store and buying some remnants to start off with? Remnants are small bits of fabric from the end of a fabric roll. They're quite cheap, I love them!
  • Sewing Needle Booklet - You can either keep the packaging the needles come in or make your own! I made my own! You can get the pattern for it here: http://www.instructables.com/id/how-to-sew-a-needle-book/, or buy one in my etsy store!
You may also want to invest in an iron, self-healing cutting mat, rotary cutter, and rulers. But they're not entirely necessary!

And now that we have the basics, let's thread a needle!
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kwokhn22 months ago

I made it! (^_^) I made a pencilcase and a card holder which is kinda floppy because its made of fabric so... ya.

mylk9 months ago

Thanks from a guy that took home-economics in the 70's. My brownies were not the best, but I learned to thread a sewing machine. Somehow the basics were skipped or rushed. @SolarSoda...Using the fingertip to cinch the knot is a practiced art. Intuitive and yet not! I learned from this tutorial to press lightly on the loop junction and pull steadily. And yes, double all the way! Single thread is for fine repair.

Thanks for sharing the info; Jesus Christ Bless you! :)
kody.dibble10 months ago

Hello! I would like to start sowing Sweaters and Shirts and such...can anyone help me! Thanks With Love in Christ, KD

jessyratfink (author)  kody.dibble10 months ago

Check out this tutorial for sewing with knits, it really helped me!


mlee1233410 months ago
How did u make that sort of book thing but for sewing
jessyratfink (author)  mlee1233410 months ago
VeganEthan11 months ago

Funny thing. The slip stitch was confusing me, but then I realized that my mom taught me the blanket stitch for hiding seams. Just do them on the wrong side, stitch, and turn inside out! It's how I made pillows and basic clothes for my stuffed animals(and a stuffed mole for International Mole Day for extra credit in Chemistry). I love the backstitch though, so thank you! I am feeling the urge to patch my jeans...

kgirl55231 year ago
I've been sewing for a long time and never thought to use beeswax.thanks for the tip;)
SolarSoda2 years ago
What drives me crazy is that I CANNOT get the knot up close to the fabric. No matter what I do. Any tips? And yes I've tried holding down the knot with my thumb/finger. It gets to a certain point and then it takes off in the opposite direction, slipping out from under my thumb/finger. It makes me want to do bad things with my needle. >:-(

Use your needle as the guide by placing it in the loop then pulling the thread tight. Your knot will be placed flush with the fabric every time.

icegreen892 years ago
I have wanted to learn how to sew for so very long, just to be self dependent (as opposed to mom or seamstress/ dressmaker dependent). Thank you! I don't know when I will start with this Instructible, but at least I know where to look now.
jcbeaver72 years ago
im confused... Do you knot the end after you've sewed what you need to sew? I'm trying to make a dinosaur hoodie...
jessyratfink (author)  jcbeaver72 years ago
Yep, whenever your seam or whatever else is done, you knot it. :D
I stabbed myself with a needle, so i gave up on the dino hoodie thing... but thanks for the help!
so im just 11 years old and want to learn how to sew really bad so im could MAKE MY OWN JACKET And impress my friends and is it more easy to use a sewing machine or by hand
tech dawg3 years ago
This is awesome.You've saved me hours of trying to get the stupid sewin-machine to work!Thanks alot!
Jaapio3 years ago
Nice instructable. About 10 years ago I had sewing lessons at school and made some pillows, backpacks and I even recall a stuffed animal. I always did a lot of extra "safety knots" This brings back some memories.
thanks!!! this helped me a lot im making arm warmers out of some old jeans now!!! (yes im a boy, but im a scene kid and places never have what we are lookin for so we gotta make our own stuff sometimes :D)
Here's a hint from my gran (always good, those) for threading needles: If you can't get the end through the needle's eye (maybe it isn't cut sharp enough or has frayed from all the luckless tries before), make a very short loop with the end of the thread you want to put through the eye. Then insert the needle's eye-end into this loop and pull it towards the closed end of the loop, holding the thread ends firmly with your other hand. Pinch the closed loop-end (maybe even with wet fingers) around the needle's eye end. Most of the times, that end is a little flattened from stamping the eye in during the needle-making process. So, pinching the loop here sort of "irons" the thread into a somewhat flattened, but rather precise point, or V-shape. Now just use the tip of that V to thread the needle. I use this "technique" almost everytime I thread a needle. I hope I have described it understandably and usefully...
jessyratfink (author)  nutellamonster5 years ago
 That is such a good idea! I think I'll try that next time I'm sewing really late at night and getting frustrated. :D

Do you mind if I copy and paste/give you credit in the main ible?
Sorry I'm so late with my answer - I don't mind at all, go ahead by all means - Granny's tricks should be preserved!! :-)
 Have you considered adding videos to your instructable? It would be really helpful. Nice instructable by the way :)
jessyratfink (author)  nutsandbolts_645 years ago
 After you posted this, I've been thinking about it!

I'm going to try to add some once I graduate this month and move. :P
 Thank you so much!! I was really inspired to start doing all these projects, but I needed to know how to sew. This REALLY helped! :) 
jessyratfink (author)  HopeWILLLead5 years ago
 Yay! I'm happy it did! :D
redsox595 years ago
 How does it feel to have the most popular page on the internet (according to google) for "how to sew"?
jessyratfink (author)  redsox595 years ago
 Preeeeeetty nice. 
Though I'm realizing I need to update this and make it much more awesome once this month is over. :)
stinbrook5 years ago
I need to learn how to use a hand stitching Awl - for sewing leather.
Kryptonite5 years ago
I'm sending ALittleStranger a link to that needle holder, if that's ok.
Stormstaff5 years ago
Anyone else having trouble downloading the pdf file?
MaDaZi5 years ago
I found this very helpful for me to start learning to sew. (I'm a guy, just so ya know, though it really doesn't matter)
mikelz MaDaZi5 years ago
It matters to me. I'm a guy. Now I don't feel nearly as weird here as I did.
MaDaZi5 years ago
I found this very useful, but the part about ending them was a little confusing.
smile--x5 years ago
Thank you so much for the intructions and pictures, it help a lot cause i'm a vision learner.
Kaiven6 years ago
What about the decorative stitch that looks like "XXXXXXX" on one side?
That's a fun one! It is called cross-stitch. You make a bunch of crosses in one direction and go back and do a second stitch on on each to finish the "X"

ProBiotic5 years ago
Great pictures! Thanks so much for the clear directions!
ah ha! so blanket stitch is what im going to use on my ipod cover ( was going to use super glue lol) ty
How did it turn out?
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