Sewing 101: Basic Stitches

OK, OK. Just bare with me for just a couple more posts. I promise. This whole Sewing 101 Education Week thing is almost over with an apron tutorial coming tomorrow! So be excited about that. To sew, you’ll need to know the basic stitches and what it’s used for, right?

Top stitch side of the fabric.

  1. Straight stitch. It’s your regular stitch. I did it in different stitch lengths to show you what kind of effects it has. My machine goes from stitch length 1-4. Stitch length 1 being short and length 4 is for long stitches. You can find out how to adjust stitch lengths by looking in your manual. There is usually a knob at the front of your sewing machine that will adjust the stitch lengths. I normally stitch in length 3. When the tension is too tight on your straight stitch, your fabric will pucker up.
  2. Secure stitching. One way to secure the beginning and end of your stitches is to reverse then go forward again stitching over the previous stitches. Another way to secure stitches is by doing short stitch lengths (1 or 2) at the beginning and end then going back to your normal stitch length.
  3. Basting stitch. It’s when you stitch with the loosest tension and longest stitch length. It is great for gathering fabric to make ruffles or fabric flowers and such.
  4. Zig zag stitch. You can use it for appliqué, stitching seams and even for something decorative. Make sure you have the zigzag foot on to do this stitch.
  5. Other stitches. Your machine may come with only a few other stitches or a plethora of a variety of stitches. They can be used for decorative uses or sewing with different types of fabric or other purposes. This is another time when your manual will come in handy. Your manual should tell you how to use the different types of stitches available on your machine. So read it!
Reverse side of the stitches in the photo above.

7 Responses to “Sewing 101: Basic Stitches”

  • Anna

    I just want to thank you for these Sewing 101 posts! I learned a little about sewing as a child and a few years ago got brave enough to buy my own machine. Some of the knowledge came back to me when I sat down to make some pillows, but I’m learning and re-learning so much from you. I may even attempt a skirt for my little girl one of these days!

    • Tiffany

      hi anna! thanks so much for that comment. sometimes i feel like i over do it. especially since the sewing 101 edu week was supposed to be 1 week and turning into 2. so thanks! i hope to see your skirt you made for your little girl!

  • Tifani Gantt

    Hello Tiffany,
    I was wondering if you would ever consider doing a Education tutorial on the different types of pressure feet? I have been looking for something like that online and it looks like you have the sources to do it. Hopefully you will in the meantime i will continue to enjoy your website.

    • Tiffany

      huh, i’ll have to think about that. thanks for giving me the suggestion!

    • Tiffany

      alright. i think i have something set for friday about presser foot. hopefully that will help you!

  • Ali

    Thank you! Thank you! A million times, THANK YOU!! You have no idea how much all your time, hard work, attention to detail, straight forward, clean and clear explanations/tutorials tips and suggestions have helped. Hours of blind/unguided practic couldn’t give the knowledge you’ve provided in just a few reading moments of time. You really understand and grasp the whole idea of “101” and I appericate the non-assumptive explanations compared to most that are filled with instructions, lingo and verbage that is a foreign language in the world of sewing. I’ve only read a few of your posts so far. I’m excited and eager to read and practice all of them. Your hard work is appericated and will be put to good use!


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