Sewing Tips Newsletter – Issue 5

Sewing Tips Newsletter
by Jenny T.

As many of you may know, most of my sewing videos use the sewing machine. But there are many cases where a sewing machine is just not going to cut it. Knowing how to properly use hand stitches will not only improve your sewing projects, but help resolve many problems with your sewing projects. Sometimes, a sewing machine will just not give the same high quality result has a hand stitch. Plus, let’s not forget hand applique and decorative stitching.

This week, I will review 9 hand stitches that you’ll need for almost any sewing project and explain how and when to use them.

In this issue:

1. 9 Handy Hand Stitches You Can Use In Any Sewing Project

2. 5 Quick Hand Sewing Tips

3. Ask Jenny T. Now

4. What’s new in Simple Sewing Projects

5. Decorating Advice

And now… on to this week’s sewing tip!


Sewing Tip #5: 9 Handy Hand Stitches You Can Use In Any Sewing Project

In this lesson, you’re going to learn 9 hand stitches that you’ll need to know for almost any sewing project. Even though most of your sewing projects will be sewn by machine, there is always a chance you’ll need to thread that hand needle a do a little hand stitching. Having these hand skills under your belt will help you be more successful with your sewing.

You’ll find this article with photos under Sewing Tips at

The video for this lesson is at

Backstitch: The hand backstitch is the strongest hand stitch. It is used to seam fabric together. The backstitch looks just like a machine stitch, so it’s a great alternative if you are mending a garment that has the stitching showing.

Blanket Stitch (Button-hole stitch): The blanket stitch is used to decorate the edge of fabric that is not prone to ravel. It commonly used in applique projects. Sew a cut out shape to a flat piece of fabric by sewing a blanket stitch around the shape’s edges. The thread passes under itself on each stitch (forming a half-hitch), binding the edge of the fabric. If the threads are kept tight together, it is a Button-hole stitch; if spaced out a bit (1/4″ to 1/2″ apart) it is a Blanket stitch.

Slip Stitch (Blind Hem Stitch): This hand stitch is commonly used to hem pants. It’s nice because the stitch is virtually invisible from the front of the fabric. Use the slip stitch when you need to sew a folded edge to a flat piece of fabric. The needle passes inside the fold of the hem, then emerges to catch one or two threads, then back into the folded hem for the next stitch.

Whip Stitch: A basic over-and-over stitch, can be used to form a hem or seam. This is an easy way to sew a hem. I prefer to use this method when sewing drapery hems and side hems. You can see it a little more on the backside of the panel… but it’s a little stronger than a slip sitch and faster to hand sew.

Overcast Stitch: Basically, a whip stitch on the raw edge of fabric, used to finish the edges neatly and prevent fraying. This is the alternative to serging or overlocking the raw edges of your fabric. If you have fabric that frays easily, sew an overcast stitch along the raw edges.

Catch Stitch: A catch stitch creates a flexible hem with some give. This is appropriate for sewing hems on skirts… neck lines… any hem that needs some flexibility. The catch stitch is used to finish a hem or tack facings. The thread catches a thread or two on the hem, then on the garment, crossing itself on each half stitch.

Couch Stitch: A stitch that is nearly invisible from the front side. The needle catches two threads in the garment, then passes behind the folded hem to emerge for the next stitch. It then rises vertically to catch two threads in the garment for the next stitch

Running Stitch: Perhaps the simplest of stitches, the thread runs straight through the fabric without doubling back on itself. Used to join fabric for gathering and mending. A running stitch is a straight stitch commonly used for hand quilting.

Basting Stitch: Similar to a running stitch with very long stitches. Used as a flexible alternative for pinning and for gathering, it can be pulled out easily. I use a basting stitch to temporarily hold 2 items together. You would use a basting stitch to secure welt cording to one layer of fabric before sewing all layers together at the machine. Or you would hand baste stitch a zipper to the seam before sewing it on your machine.

Discover video and audio of even more sewing tips, how-to’s and resources by visiting You’ll even be able to subscribe to these weekly sewing tips and how-to’s and receive them through your iTunes or podcast player.

To learn how to sew each of these hand stitches with detailed step by step videos… visit


5 Quick Hand Sewing Tips

1. Use a hand sewing needle that is appropriate for your fabric. Use a fine needle for delicate fabrics, and you can use a thicker needle for heavier fabrics.

2. Use a needle threader to thread your needles fast.

3. Double thread your needle for extra strong stitches. But be careful… there will be more of a chance of the stitching being seen. So, don’t double thread your needle for hidden hemming stitches.

4. Use a thimble… otherwise… OUCH!

5. Work in good lighting. It is near impossible to sew a nice hand stitch when you can’t see what you’re doing.


Ask Jenny T Now

While you wait for the next sewing tip, be sure to visit and submit your sewing question. Your question maybe answered in my next podcast or newsletter! For all the box cushion questions… I have not forgotten you! July’s project of the month is box cushions with welt cord, zippers and buttons. And all of your questions will be answered. I’ll let you know when that info is up.

Question from Mary Ann: Hi Jenny, My husband made me a cutting table from a ping pong table. He built the legs up so I don’t have to bend over and kill my back. I want to cover the table with a soft fabric or batting and also want to cover it with a teflon fabric so I can also iron on the table. I would like to have one large piece of teflon fabric to cover the whole so it can be seamless. If there any ideas on how to make a large covered cutting table you can suggest? Thanks for all your help and I love your site. Mary Ann

Answer: I really don’t have experience with making a cutting table. I love what you’re doing though. READERS: please email me and send me your suggestions for this. I’ll send them to Mary Ann, and I’ll also include the responses in next week’s newsletter.

Question from Melissa: You recently sent a tip regarding sewing sheer curtains and how to deal with the side hems pulling the bottom corners up. I accidently deleted it before reading it and am sewing sheer linen panels and am having this problem. Other than weights, what can I do?

Answer: The article you received in the newsletter is on If you go to the home page, and scroll down a tiny bit, you’ll see a column called Learning Center. The tip is under there. Just click and read!


Question from Bobbi: Sewing with sheers is frustrating Any tips?

Answer: Yes! Visit

If you go to the home page, and scroll down a tiny bit, you’ll see a column called Learning Center. There is an article for 12 tips on sewing sheer fabric. Plus visit for a video and 5 more exciting tips!

Question from Walid: Hi Jenny! Thanks for the great site. I’d like to know exactly how to measure fabric for my roman shades. I read on one site that I need enough for 1 1/4 inches wider than the length of the mounting board & 6 inches longer than the measurement from the mounting board to the lower windowsill. It said to find that measurement and then divide by 36 inches for yardage. Is this correct? I am ordering an expensive fabric and don’t want to order too much. Thank you so much!

Answer: First, there is a yardage calculator for roman shades on You’ll find this very helpful. For a flat roman shade, the cut length will be the finished length, plus 6″ for the bottom hem, plus the depth of the mounting board. The cut width will be the finished width plus your side seams. My instruction have you add 3″. As long as the cut width is less than the width of your fabric (usually 54″), then yes, divide the cut length by 36″ for the yardage. If the cut width is wider than 54″, then you’ll need to multiply the yardage you just calculated by the number of fabric widths you plan on using. So, if the cut width is 70″. Divide 70″ by the fabric width. 70″ divided by 54″ = 1.29 fabric widths. So after you divide the cut length by 36″… multiply that number by the number of fabric widths.

Again, this is all done for you through the calculators on the… and it’s free. Also, my video instructions for making roman shades is also on this site.

Question from Vera: when sewing the corners for box cushions and the zipper is almost the length of one seam does this not interfere when you measure in 2″ and sew across?

Answer: Good question! You are referring to last week’s sewing lesson. The answer is no. Yes, you do have to sew across it and actually cut it when you cut of the triangle… but that’s ok. Just be careful when sewing across the zipper so you dont break your sewing machine needle. When I did the box cushion for the video, I ended up sewing across both ends of the zipper and trimming them. Keep the zipper pull in the middle of your zipper so that you don’t accidentally cut it off.

Question from Liz: How do you make and sew a basket liner

Answer: This project is already on with step by step videos.

Question from Helen: you said that when sewing the bottoms hem they are all the same, that is the 3” double hem, what if i decide to sew on my rings instead of ring tape and made my shade with a 4” pleats or 10” etc. would my hem still be 3” double or what will it be

Answer: Your bottom hem will still be a 3″ double hem. The hem doesnt really have much to do with the spacing of your rings or how you plan sewing your rings. Hope that helps.

Visit and submit your sewing question today.


What’s New This Week In

1. How To Sew Hand Stitches Video Series. (*For Super Sewer Members Only*)

2. Video tutorial on how to cut and piece fabric to match a print. This is a really neat technique to learn.

3. Starting June 29th, my first online sewing class will start. “How To Sew Swags and Drapes – A Live Case Study”. Please visit for more info and to sign up.

Gain immediate access to all this exciting content plus to all of the archived sewing projects and how-to’s.

Here’s the link to subscribe to

I hope to see you in the member’s site!


Decorating Advice

If you have a decorating question, please visit and submit your question.


Happy Sewing!

Jenny T.

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