Hand Sewing

Herringbone stretch stitch
Herringbone stretch stitch (photo by Chuleenan Svetvilas)

Over the past few months I’ve been hand sewing, not machine sewing, which has a very different feel. When I’m sewing on a machine, I want to have blocks of time to work. I want an uninterrupted five or six hours minimum to sew, iron, snip, etc.

But when you sew with a needle and thread in hand, you have more flexibility. It’s a lot slower than a sewing machine but you can be interrupted and it’s not a big deal. You can work on your hand sewing for 20 or 30 minutes and still feel as if  you got something done. And it’s very portable, you can just stuff it in a bag along with your needle and thread and work on it wherever you have decent light.

I’ve been doing some embroidery and though I’ve been working on off and on since October, I can see my progress. So far, I’ve written two posts on my embroidered wrap, which was inspired by the one in the book  Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin (my review). You can read about my embroidering experiences in this post “Getting Started on My Alabama Fur Wrap” and “The Embroidered Wrap.”

I’ve been making jersey garments from the book. If I were sewing this fabric on my sewing machine, I’d use a zig zag stitch or I’d use the built-in stretch stitch, which is a bit bulky and tedious because it goes over every stitch three times.

But as I discovered from Alabama Studio, there are many different hand stitchesincluding stretch stitches that you can use on jersey fabric and elastic. I had no idea.

I learned how to hand sew a herringbone stitch to attach the foldover elastic to the waistband of a skirt I made from the book. It’s a rather time-consuming stitch to so because there are sooooo many stitches to sew but I did it!

The cretan stitch is much faster to do because the individual stitches are further apart. I think I’ll use that stitch the next time I hand sew elastic!

Author: Chuleenan

Chuleenan sews, collects hats and shoes, and is a fabric addict. She is also the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists Meetup group.

4 thoughts on “Hand Sewing”

  1. I’ve become intrigued with the “idea”, LOL, of handsewing. I have been telling myself that I want to hand sew a dress for myself. We’ll see if that comes to fruition.

    Meanwhile, I am happy to have read this article about hand sewing as it keeps the concept alive in my mind.



    1. Handsewing is really different – more meditative. And there are so many stitches you can do – I was pretty amazed by the variety of stretch stitches in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design book.

  2. I really want to check out that book now and learn some more hand stitches. I watched Claire Schaeffer’s dvd on hand sewing and boy was that over my head. I picked up a couple of stitches and general technique but it’s been a while since I first viewed it. While I love how quick machine sewing is, I do like adding some hand stitching to let a garment breathe. CS says that the minute you add machine stitching, the fabric loses it’s inherent give. Just that thought sounds luxurious.

    1. There are many hand stitches Alabma Studio Sewing + Design features in the book. Some are rather intricate but beautiful. I like how fast machine sewing is, too. However, hand sewing is a nice break.

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