Using either a running stitch or backstitch is two of the most common methods to sew a seam by hand. Although they are not always as strong as using a sewing machine, there are times that you can’t beat the convenience that comes with sewing by hand.

As a beginner sewer, one of the things you need to learn is to sew a straight seam. And with this tutorial, you will find it easy to learn how to hand sew a seam.

How To Hand Sew A Seam With Running Stitch

Running stitch is probably one of the fastest and easiest hand stitching methods you can learn. You can use this method if this is your first time at sewing or if you have a seam that will only be under a small amount of stress.

Running stitch is not quite as strong as a backstitch. However, considering how easy it is to do, it surely is an excellent option.

Running Stitch Instructions:

  • Put your fabric with the right sides together.
  • You will be stitching on the wrong side of your fabrics so that when your seam is the right way out, the stitches will be hidden on the inside.
  • Insert the needle into your fabric and make small up and down stitches of even length.

If you’re a right-handed sewer, you will find it easiest to work from your right to the left. But if you’re a left-handed sewer, work the opposite way from your left to the right.

For seams, It s recommended to evenly space gaps and stitches. As you become more confident, you will be able to sew several stitches at once in an up and down motion.

Keep in mind that the smaller stitches you make, the stronger your seam will be. Begin with small stitches that are 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch if you’re using thicker fabrics.

How To Hand Sew A Seam With Backstitch

Backstitch is a type of hand stitch that will provide you with a nice strong seam. It is great for repairing pieces of clothing and for small sewing projects as a substitute for using a sewing machine.

Backstitch Sewing Instructions:

  • Put your fabric pieces with right sides together, to prepare them for sewing sew the seam.
  • First, put the needle down through the fabric. Then, bring it up a short distance away.
  • Pull the thread through.
  • Again, if you’re a right-handed sewer, it is easiest to sew from right to left.

If you are a beginner, test sewing your backstitch seam with stitches that are at most 1/4 inch in length. The smaller your stitches are, the better. Try to see if you will be able to get it down to 1/8 inch once you have the hang of this stitch.

  • Next, take a small backstitch in the fabric, inserting it in the same place you started. 
  • Bring the needle up in front of the first stitch at an equal distance.
  • At this point, just keep repeating the steps. 
  • To finish your row of stitching, use the same method in the running stitch section above.

Other Options On How To Hand Sew A Seam

There’s no doubt that running stitch and backstitch are the easiest. However, these are not the only way you can hand stitch a seam.

Whip Stitched Seam

This is most often applied when you want to join two bias-cut fabric edges to preserve the bias stretch. Its effect nearly similar to applying the zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine, and is used in very similar situations.

  • Stitch in a diagonal direction to create a zig-zag pattern centered on the desired seam line.
  • The closer you make your stitches, the stronger and more stable your seams will be.

Whip Stitched Seam Finish

With this, you can create a smooth and flat seam area.

  • Fold the seam allowance onto itself and stitch it down to the body fabric with a whip stitch. 
  • As with a whip-stitched hem you only need four to eight stitches per inch.

Flat Felled Seam Finish

Doing this allows you to create a seam area that is flat and smooth as well.

  • Either join your seam with one layer of the fabric having half the seam allowance of the other. Or trim one layer of the seam allowance to half-length.
  • Fold the longer seam allowance over the shorter and hide the edge under the fold.
  • Stitch down the folded seam allowances using a whip stitch or running stitch if that’s what you prefer.
  • Usually, you only four to eight stitches per inch to secure the seam allowance.

French Seamed Finish

The result of this in a seam is very similar to a French seam on a sewing machine.

  • Fold the edges of your seam allowance in towards each other and the joining seam.
  • Whipstitch along the top of the folds to hold them closed (or running stitch if you prefer).
  • Often, only four to eight stitches per inch are necessary to secure the seam allowance.

Finishing Before Joining The Seams

There are many reasons why you may want to finish your garment pieces before sewing them together.  On top of that is that it is the easiest way to add layers or lining smoothly to only parts of your garment. If you have a garment with too much bulk, this can make it easier to work with its various parts without the need to have the entire garment in your lap until it is almost done. 

Furthermore, if you plan to add embellishments, this can help prevent the seam edges from fully unraveling while working. Likewise, it can prevent the overhandling of the decorated pieces while you’re assembling the bulk of the garment.  

Unless you are applying a fancy decorative seam stitch, seams are always joined with a whip stitch when your garment pieces are finished first. When you use a close, very tiny stitch, it will be tough to see on the finished garment. Hence, it is advisable to use no fewer than eight stitches per inch, and more likely twelve or more.