• Lindsey

Sewing Basics: Hand Stitches You Need to Know

Welcome back to Stylecamp's #sewingbasics series, created in the spirit of learning new and valuable skills during the global pandemic. The lockdown has thrown up a rare gift of time and reflection for many of us, prompting us to think about the necessities in life and how to nurture ourselves and the things we already have while also providing a great environment for learning new things.

If, like me, you've used the downtime to have a good sort out (check out my #slowfashion article, How to Clear Out your Wardrobe Responsibly), you may have come across some items in your wardrobe that could do with a little TLC or alteration.

Sewing machines are handy and efficient for these purposes, but they can be both expensive and bewildering to first-time users, and if you don't have a dedicated space for sewing, then a real hassle to get set up. Often the job can be done just as easily, if not better, by hand. You can see part 1 of my Sewing Basics series on hand sewing a button if you don't believe me!



Learning basic sewing skills is really useful and also ties in neatly with the concept of #slowfashion, which philosophises careful shopping habits as well as the care and repair of clothing you already own. By learning and applying basic sewing skills, you'll be doing your bit to make your wardrobe longer-lasting, which is great news for the planet.

As with learning anything new, give yourself time and patience to master the basics. For complete beginners, here's some basic hand-stitching techniques to practise on fabric scraps before you get going!


  • A needle

  • General purpose thread

  • Scissors



Call it a lockstitch, anchor or a starting stitch, every piece of hand stitching needs a start and end point. Ever tried to tie a decent knot in a single piece of thread? It almost always pulls straight through the fabric when you come to sew. Here's how to start sewing without a knot.

How to sew a lockstitch
Keep a grip on the eye of the needle so the thread doesn't come out

Begin with an arm's length of thread and thread the needle, extending it a fair amount so you can grasp the tail in your sewing hand. It won't be secured so you'll need to keep a conscious grip on the eye of the needle to make sure the thread doesn't come out while sewing.

How to sew a lockstitch
Make a starting stitch only millimetres apart

Pierce the needle through the fabric downwards and upwards at a short interval, only millimetres apart, and pull the thread through until you have a tail about 1"/2.5cm coming out of the fabric.

How to sew a lockstitch
Leave a tail of thread and hold this down with your other thumb

Place your thumb over the tail to hold it in place, and then pass the needle back through your initial stitches, following the same direction as you started. Pull the thread through gently and don't let the tail pull through the fabric.

How to sew a lockstitch