Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Magic Stitch: Hand Stitching Tutorial

I used to hate hand stitching until I discovered 3 things:

1. The Thimble
2. Waxed Thread
3. The Magic Stitch

We'll talk about the first two later-- but today I wanted to show you the 'magic stitch'. I used this on the cap I showed you earlier this week. Truth be told, it's the only hand stitch I can do well!

The Magic Stitch by Make It Handmade

I love this stitch because it's practically invisible from the right side and it's way less fussy than a slip stitch or applique stitch (or even a running stitch).  Any inconsistencies or 'messy stitches' are hidden on the wrong side of the fabric.

I use this for stitching down quilt bindings, putting in zippers, applique... You can use this for anything that needs invisible stitching on one side only.

Prepare your Applique:

First you'll need something to stitch. I traced this '3' off of the computer and cut it out of felt.
Trace Applique. The Magic Stitch by Make It Handmade
Cut Applique. The Magic Stitch by Make It Handmade
Use a few pins to hold it in place. For hand stitching, use as few pins as possible to avoid poking yourself.
Pin. The Magic Stitch by Make It Handmade


I'm using contrasting thread, but you'll want to match your top fabric. Knot your thread, and bring your thread up through both layers.

Now (and here's the magic part!), put your needle back in right where you came out of, and come up about 1/4 inch away.
Stitch. The Magic Stitch by Make It Handmade

Work your way around your applique (or binding, or zipper). For a garment or quilt, I'd make my stitches about 1/4 inch apart. Since I'll be removing this later, I made my stitches a bit bigger. It's ok if your stitches aren't exactly the same length-- you won't see it!
Continue Stitching. The Magic Stitch by Make It Handmade

Remember to always put your needle right back where you came out of! Since i used a contrasting thread, you can see the stitches in the photo above.
Finished! The Magic Stitch by Make It Handmade

But once I fluffed up the felt a bit, it was practically invisible. I'm a pretty sloppy stitcher, but it looks pretty good to me!

Tips and Tricks:

1. I find it easier to use a long needle, but experiment and see what works best for you.
2. Periodically check the wrong side of your work to make sure your thread isn't tangled.
3. I normally sew with my thread doubled, but working with a single strand will produce even less noticeable stitches.

As you can probably tell from the photos, I like to curl up on the couch to hand sew. It's such a welcome change from sitting at the sewing machine. How do you all feel about hand sewing? Love it or hate it?

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  1. I love hand sewing. Sewing machines are too challenging for me. I do most of my work by hand even though it takes longer. I love this magic stitch can't wait to try it.

    Years ago I knitted a bunting for my son and had to put a zipper in it, as I said sewing machine were and are challenging to me, I hand sewed the zipper in and it is still around all these years later. My son is now 35 LOL

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Anonymous, the bunting sounds so sweet! I never knit anything larger than a sweater for my kiddos! It's true-- hand sewing gets such a bad rap; I used to avoid it like the plague! Now I don't mind so much.

  2. Oh I learned something new here! cool technique Palak! I love to hand-sew but lately I have been finding less and less time to do so. That hat looks very smart.

    1. Thanks Anshu! I'm just discovering the joys! I feel like I have a bit more time now that the kids are older. (and they know to stay away from my needles and pins!)

  3. I love hand sewing - it's so relaxing to sit in a comfy chair and just enjoy the stitching.

  4. I love handsewing but know that some things are better and faster with a machine. I'm not a fan of my machine right now because I have severe space restrictions which makes the task even more of a chore! Thanks for the tip, I will be trying it this weekend. How have I sewn for so long and not known this fact?

  5. How does it attach if you go back down the same place you came up?

    1. It's magic! (I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself!) No, really what happens is that you end up securing just the tiniest bit of top fabric threads. I didn't believe it until I tried it either. :)

  6. This is awesome. I have done a similar stitch, but not exactly. I like this one better than what I did. What I did with mine was to come up with the needle and thread about an eighth of an inch from the edge of the applique, and then The needle and thread would go down just at the edge of the fabric being appliqued to. I did use the same color thread as the applique. Am I as clear as mud on how I did this>

    1. Deborah-- clear as water! I have a hard time with making consistent stitches so its hard for me to keep an equal distance away from edge. But, I'll have to try your way sometime-- I need practice!


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