Tips for Hand Sewing! For Couture Sewing & Beyond

I’ve always loved hand sewing, and, like most of us, it was some of the first sewing that I did. But I took my hand sewing to a new level when I was studying for a couture certificate.

Hand Sewing

Pin, baste, sew was the mantra. Where previously, I had only seen basting as an impatient step to machine sewing a seam, mostly to keep gathers in place, I now see basting as an art and the critical step that matches seams perfectly.

As I’ve written recently, I am creating a pillow from heirloom linens for a friend. Because I am layering the linens–an organza coaster on a table napkin and so forth–I am having to baste the items to keep them in place. I have spent a good amount of time on the basting, but once it’s done, I know that the rest of the hand sewing will go quickly.

Here are a couple of my favorite tips for basting that I picked up from my couture professor:

–Pin first: Before you start basting, take the time to pin accurately. It will make your basting and final stitches that much more accurate.

–Always keep the piece flat: By laying your work on a flat surface, you keep it secure and stable which enables you to accomplish the next step.

–Keep your basting stitches even: Whether you are taking small or large bites with the needle, you want to run your thread evenly through the fabric. Neat basting makes for a lovely finished product. Remember, you are moving the needle, not the fabric.

–Don’t knot your basting: This makes it that much easier to pull out the thread. Your even stitches will keep the thread in place until it’s not needed.

My hands-down favorite thread for basting is silk. It just slides through the fabric without argument. I found a stash of industrial grade silk thread on big wooden spools at the Brimfield Flea Market recently. What a find!

For the ultimate in luxury learn to sew couture with Kenneth D. King in his excellent course: Sewing Fundamentals With Kenneth D. King: The Dress. 

Follow along as Kenneth cuts out and constructs a demi-couture day dress. He will demonstrate the successive stages of construction while explaining just how and, more importantly, why each of these steps is necessary for a fine garment. From laying out the fitted pattern to the finishing touches on the lining, Kenneth will teach you all of the steps necessary to execute a beautiful demi-couture dress, techniques that translate to formal garments as well.

What projects have demanded your hand sewing skills recently? I would love to know!

Happy stitching!









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Hand Sewing

About Amber

Amber Eden is the editor of Stitch and She LOVES sewing and editing Stitch and She also loves dance, yoga, iced decaf triple espressos, and her two golden retrievers. She divides her time between Boston and New York.

4 thoughts on “Tips for Hand Sewing! For Couture Sewing & Beyond

  1. I am working on a birthday gift for my girlfriend. To get the “just right” effect I basted the layers together first. I am also working on a crazy quilted needle holder and chatelaine for another gift, it is all hand sewn. AND then I have the tote around project of pouches that fold over and button close. Two bandanas with cotton lining make the pouch.

  2. I hand sew quilts. I hand-sew my blocks and then sometimes sew it all together by machine and even sometimes I see all the blocks together by hand using a cotton thread that is dipped in beeswax. Makes it heavy-duty. I love to hand-sew my quilts. And, yes, this makes my work more perfect, which I love.

  3. i am not only a hand sewer but a hand spinner. A wise friend once said that “drop spindling is slower by the hour but faster by the week because you can do it anywhere.” The same applies to handsewing. Currently I am working on hand sewing a 36 block variation on Drunkard’s Path quilt and a gored skirt. Have recently finished 2 16th c shifts, a year 1500 style Tudor velvet gown. Next in line – a 1700s Polanaise and accompanying under garments. I also, when possible, assist with hand quilting pieces for a church raffle.

  4. My lovely fall/harvest throw pillow developed an opening in the seam. Last year it was put away that way having been forgotten. This year the opening was bigger so I kept it out to fix. What with the overstuffing and unusual fabric, I couldn’t keep the two sides together to do a controlled blind stitch. Pins buckled the fabric; clamps didn’t work. A friend saw it still in my “to do” basket so I explained the minor dilemma. Baste first, she explained. Oh, my, of course! “Old” wisdom!