Introduction: Sewing the Running Stitch
The running stitch is the easiest hand sewing stitch and the one I was taught first.
The running stitch is the stitch that quilters use to sew the layers of quilts together - it's very strong for flat surfaces, but not as durable when two surfaces meet at a seam.
However, if you're really determined, a running stitch can be strong if you can make enough small running stitches. Quilters often sew between 8-12 running stitches per inch - my grandmother sewed all of her quilts using the running stitch and I am still using them decades later.
Tools and Materials
For this lesson, you will need:
- An embroidery needle
- Embroidery floss
- Felt or fabric to practice stitches
P.S. In this lesson, I'm holding the fabric for the running and basting stitches using an embroidery hoop. This isn't necessary for the class, but it makes a nice display for the stitches! If you're interested to learn more about embroidery, check out my embroidery 101 instructable.
A basting stitch is a very long and fairly loose running stitch. It's the way most people start sewing!
When you sew with a basting stitch, you're holding the fabric where it needs to be, but you're not having to worry about pins getting in the way. These stitches are also super easy to remove once you're done sewing since they're so long - you can either pull them out by hand or use a seam ripper.
Basting is used quite often in sewing clothes to keep pieces in place as they're sewn. It's also used for gathering fabric.
To do a basting stitch, first thread a needle and knot the thread. Bring the needle through to the front of the fabric.
Push the needle back through the fabric about 1/3 inch away.
Repeat this process until you reach the end.
The backside should look very similar to the front - just smaller stitches!
The Basic Running Stitch
The running stitch is just as easy as the basting stitch, but it should take you a little more time to do. You'll want to spend more time making sure your stitches are small and consistent.
I try to keep my stitches about 1/8 inch long or less. :)
When you're just starting out, I recommend making each stitch individually. Once you've gotten used to the spacing of the stitch, you can make several stitches at once using the continuous running stitch.
The Continuous Running Stitch
Instead of making every stitch individually, you can also use your needle to make several stitches at once!
This can be a little harder to do - it takes practice to make even stitches. I'm not the best at it, but my grandmother sewed quilts squares together by hand using a rocking version of this method. It's possible to get crazy fast at it.
Here's a view of the front and back, so you can see how it looks!
Running Stitch: the Right and Wrong Way
I wanted to show an example of a nice strong running stitch and one that won't hold up to any use whatsoever. Check out the photo above to see the front of the seams. The running stitch on the left was sewn in record time! I took my time with the running stitch on the right and made sure the stitches were even in size and spacing.
Here's the back of the seam shown above. See how uneven the stitches on the left are?
If a running stitch is sewn in a straight line with small consistent stitches, the seam will very much resemble a backstitch. It will lay nice and smooth when the seam is opened as shown above.
If a running stitch is sewn slightly haphazardly and with varying stitch lengths, the seam has a tendency to pucker and gap allowing the seam allowance to peek through. The thread will also be visible. With any force on this seam, it will come apart.
Share a photo of your finished project with the class!
Nice work! You've completed the class project