15 Hand and Machine Stitches To Improve Your Sewing

Embarking on a journey into the world of stitches can feel like entering a labyrinth of endless possibilities, especially if you’re not yet a seasoned sewing professional. Just as there’s a sewing machine for every task, stitches themselves come in a myriad of forms, each tailored to a specific purpose.

Stitches aren’t just lines of thread; they’re the building blocks of every sewing project, whether you’re crafting, quilting, or simply mending. The challenge lies not only in mastering these stitches but also in understanding when and where to use them. It’s a skill that evolves with experience, but fear not – whether you’re a newcomer to the craft or a seasoned seamstress, there’s always more to learn.

While hand stitching exudes a certain charm and authenticity, the modern sewing machine has become an indispensable tool in every sewer’s arsenal. It’s the marriage of traditional techniques with technological innovation that truly unlocks the potential of your creative endeavors. Together, hand and machine stitches form a dynamic duo, capable of bringing even the most ambitious projects to fruition.

So, as we embark on this exploration of stitches, let’s embrace the boundless creativity they offer. From the humble running stitch to the intricate embroidery, each stitch has its own story to tell – and it’s up to us to weave them together into something truly remarkable

Types of Hand Stitches


BackStitch is also known as Back Tack and this is one of the most common and widely-used hand-sewing stitches around the world. In this technique, the stitches are made backward no matter you are doing sewing stitching or embroidery. It also one of the oldest and most efficient ways of sewing two fabrics together.

Since the stitches are made backward, you can use this method to sew two fabrics together with your hands. The pressure has to be put on the fabric instead of the needle to make perfect back stitches. The stitches are made from right to left generally in this method and you can even have a count of the total number of stitches made with this method.

Buttonhole Stitch

The name says everything about these types of stitches. A buttonhole stitch is basically a hand-sewing stitch that can be used in lace-making, embroidery, and even in tailoring. The basic property and working direction of these stitches are when the stitches complete on the starting point. All of the stitches made in this method are placed very near.

The final result of each stitch may look like an “L” letter but these days people have started experimenting with these stitches types. You can see a lot of variations of this stitch type on the internet and if you are passionate about sewing and stitching then a little practice can help you in coming out with your own stitch type.

Darning Stitch

Darning means mending and this stitch type can help you in fixing worn fabrics and in covering the holes. This technique is being used by people all around the world as this method needs only a needle and thread to get the work done. In most cases, this stitch type is done only on the light-weighted fabrics.

If you have an automatic or mechanical sewing machine then you can also use it to make this type of stitches. Sometimes patching can’t be done on some fabrics and that is when you can consider using this type of stitching. There are three most common darning stitch variants being used by people and they are:

  • Pattern Darning.
  • Net Darning.
  • Needle Weaving.

Embroidery Stitch

Embroidery means craving something out with a thread. As you might already know various sewing machine types can help you doing Embroidery stitches but this method was introduced by the hands. In this method, a thread is moved from the backside of the fabric to the front and then returning back to the backside to its original position.

The upper side of the front side of the fabric will be considered the main part and the backside is just to keep the loop going. It completely depends on a design, what type of embroidery stitches you will need on the fabric. These stitches are very easy to learn and if you are a beginner then you can practice it easily.


Cross-Stitch is one of the oldest forms of stitching the fabrics and even today, in most of the eastern countries this stitching method is being used by a majority of the people. This method can be done by the hands without needing a sewing machine and that is why the ancestors loved this method of sewing the fabrics.

In this method, the thread is sewed in such a way that it creates either an X or + shape on the fabric. There are more than 15 different variants of Cross-Stitch available out there and some of them are from the 16th Century. Despite being an old stitch type, this technique of stitching is very effective and strong as compared to other stitches.

Catch Stitch

Catch stitch might not be as popular as other hand sewing techniques but this is definitely one of the best among all. This method is used mostly when someone needs to do tacking or hemming of the lined garments. The style in which the stitches are made on the fabric using this technique are zig-zag to prevent the unusual edges.

This stitch type reserves some space in between the stitches so the fabric can be moved easily. Also, Catch Stitch is used by designers to give a professional look to their stitch. This method is also known as Flat Stitch and Bling Stitch because from the top this type of stitch looks like a flat looped stitch.


Basting Stitch

Basting Stitch is also known as Tack Stich. This type of stitches is made for a temporary purpose. The main aim of these stitches is to fix a hole or unstitched seams quickly. There are various types in which these stitches can be made and it completely depends on a person what type of stitches he wants to make.

Remember that these stitches might not work on heavy fabrics such as leather. You might have to use a strong thread while making these stitches as if they are not made properly, there are chances of breaking. These stitches can be made on either side of a fabric as they are meant to fix a problem quickly and not permanently.

Overcast Stitch

Overcast stitch is basically a fixing stitch that is used to fix unfinished seams and edges of the fabric. The usage of this stitch type depends on the length of the stitches made previously on the fabric. This type of stitches is mostly evenly spaced and small as they are used to fix previously made stitches.

The best thing about these stitches is that they are reversible but that depends on the type of thread you are using and the fabric type on which the stitches have been made. These stitches can also be made with the help of a sewing machine but you will need an overcast or regular foot with it to get the work done.

Running Stitch

Running Stitch is the most popular stitch type and you too might have seen someone stitching with this method. In this technique, the stitches are made one after another after regular distance. The thread must go in and out of the fabric from each site and must end at the opposite side from where you have started the stitch.

From quilting to sewing this method is used everywhere and other stitching methods are based on this method only. Also, you might not be able to see this stitch on a piece of fabric as most of the people are using it for closing the seams. This method of stitching is very easy and if you are a beginner you can start with this technique to learn different types of stitching.

Tent Stitch

We are mentioning it, in the end, doesn’t mean it is not better than the stitches mentioned above. Basically, Tent Stitch is one of the best hand stitching methods that can be used by anyone. This stitch type if very small in size and the stitches are made at a 45-degree angle on one vertical and one horizontal thread at the same time.

The best thing about this stitch is that the stitch made on the fabric will be very strong even when you do it with a single thread. Some people also call it as Needle Point Stitch and there are three variants of this stitch available out there and they are:

  • Basketweave Tent Stitch
  • Continental Tent Stitch
  • Half Cross Tent Stitch.

Types of Sewing Machine Stitches

Chain Stitch

Chain Stitch is one of the oldest machine stitches types that is being used even these days. In this stitch type, a series of looped stitches are made on fabric, creating a pattern. Since this is an old technique, it was not mean to make the needle pass through multiple layers of fabric but things have changed now.

With sewing machines, you can make a chain stitch on multi-layered fabrics. These types of stitches can be found on curtains, bed linens, and on some bedsheets too. The machine chain stitch is different from the hand stitch as the friction of needle movement creates different sizes and types of loops in both of the techniques.

Straight Stitch

A straight stitch is also known as Flat stitch and in this method, stitches are made without creating a loop on either side of the fabric. This method is mostly used in embroidery and sewing can it can be done even with a basic sewing machine. Though there are some variants of this stitch type available out there but none of them make a loop.

The Backstitch we have mentioned in the hand stitching techniques can also be included in this category sometimes. This is also an old technique of stitching and it dates back to the 15th century. Some sewing machines are able to make double and triple straight stitch where they take one step forward, one backward and two steps forward, one backward respectively.

Zig-Zag Stitch

Zig-Zag stitches can be made pretty easily with sewing machines than with the hands. While buying a machine you might have to look for this feature as not every sewing machine can do the zig-zag stitch. This type of stitch is made when the cam of a sewing machine controls the motion of the needle side-by-side making it to work zig-zag.

Sewing machines with two needles are perfect to create zig-zag stitches. If you are looking for some unique and different sewing machine stitches then this is one among them. For old sewing machines, you can buy a few attachments to allow them to make zig-zag stitches. Zig-zag stitches are also common machine stitches for quilting.

Running Stitch

A Running stitch with a sewing machine is the same as the one made with the hands. The only difference between the two is the number of variants and speed. With sewing machines, you will be able to make different types of Running stitches at different speeds easily but while using your hands only a limited number of stitches can be made.

To make these stitches with a sewing machine, you can go with automatic, mechanical, embroidery, and even with mini and portable sewing machines. While sewing with hands you might have to work on thin fabrics but when you are doing these stitches on the sewing machine you can throw a heavy fabric like leather without worrying about anything.

Satin Stitch

Last but not least is a Satin stitch which is commonly known also as Damask Stitch. These types of sewing machine stitches are made to cover a part of the fabric with stitches. You can either use a special satin stitch foot or zig-zag stitch method to obtain the results of Satin stitch using your regular sewing machine.

Remember that you can’t only use this stitching method to get the desired results. Depending on your design and requirements, sometimes you may need to twin this stitch type with back, split or chain stitch type. There are different variants of this stitch used out there, some of them are:

  • Bourdon Stitch
  • Brick Stitch
  • Encroaching Stitch
  • Long-and-Short Stitch
  • Padded Stitch

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, we’ve covered various stitching techniques for both manual and machine sewing. We trust that your understanding of stitching methods has expanded through this post. It’s worth noting that while we’ve highlighted several types of stitches here, there are numerous others available that may not be as widely recognized.

We’re committed to continually updating this post with additional hand stitching and sewing machine techniques, so be sure to check back on the Quilted Sewing Blog for updates. If you’re familiar with any other hand-stitching methods or unique sewing machine stitches, we encourage you to share them with us. Your input will help enrich this resource for others


Hannah Nelson

Hi, there! I am Hannah Nelson, your host on this website. I started this blog to teach my lovely readers how to master the art of sewing effortlessly and how to turn this hobby into an income generating business.

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