What Do You Love About Hand Sewing?

Last Sunday evening, after machine sewing a few simple baby bibs, I sat down in my living room to handsew the finishing touches. I don't know about you, but for me there's something so soothing about hand sewing.

Reversible flannel bibs made for twin girls.

I sat in the chair opposite the fireplace, with my dogs at my feet and my husband reading a book on the couch nearby. It was such a peaceful end to the day and the weekend.

The rhythm of hand sewing is comforting: pushing the needle up and down through the fabric and making slow but steady progress. Hand sewing is also satisfying to me because it often signals a finish is in sight. I felt a sense of accomplishment when the Velcro was sewn on the bibs and the opening for turning was sewn shut.

The bibs are a present for my friend who gave birth to twin girls recently. Twins! I can't even imagine how hectic her and her husband's lives must be right now. The end of January is truly a special time for my friend, as she celebrates her birthday, her wedding anniversary, and now the birth of her baby girls.

While I had my hand sewing tools out, I also took a few minutes to sew a button on that had fallen off one of my husband's shirts. I considered also spending the time to repair some holes in a well-worn pair of sweatpants of mine, but decided they might just be beyond repair.

If you are looking for some tips on mending clothes, check out Mend & Make Fabulous, in the Sew Daily Shop.

What are your thoughts on hand sewing? Is it a soothing or frustrating practice for you? I can't wait to hear.

Other sewing topics you may enjoy:

Categories

Hand Sewing, Sewing Stitches
Abby Kaufman

About Abby Kaufman

Abby Kaufman is assistant editor of Stitch magazine. When she's not scoping out new fabrics for her collection, Abby enjoys outdoor activities, and spending time with her husband and two dogs. 

33 thoughts on “What Do You Love About Hand Sewing?

  1. Sorry, there is nothing soothing in hand sewing for me. I find it frustrating and I get anxious just thinking about it. My hand sewing just piles up in a corner until I either machine finish it or throw it away. I am in awe of anyone who can find the time and where-with-all to sew something by hand.

  2. I LOVE hand sewing! It has always brought me back to when I first learned to sew with my mother teaching me to make Barbie clothes. Everything was so tiny but my little hands could manage the small pieces with a needle and thread and I was in heaven, and have been hooked ever since (about 55 years later). I enjoy the process of sewing but it’s something like hand sewing that soothes me and slows me down to enjoy my process more. My grandmother once sewed a jacket and complete hand-stitched the lining, so well that no one could find her stitches in the seaming. I learned then that it was important to take my time and make it look as professional as I could. If I had no other way to sew, I would be content to sit with my work in my lap and a cup of tea at my elbow, making whatever my heart contented by hand. (Past life must’ve been pre-sewing machine days… haha)
    -Darlene

  3. I agree, handsewing means the piece is near completion and it is rewarding. However, that being said, I hate sewing on buttons! A mending pile is something else altogether; that can sit forever and I don’t feel the need to dive right in.

  4. I used to be a cross-country truck driver. There is A LOT of down time while waiting for your load. Since weight is $$$ I couldn’t bring my machine with me, but I could bring my sewing and I finished up projects I had started by machine. I even hand made a vest to complete an outfit….I was hooked. Now I carry a small project with me, for the Dr. apt times or the simple waiting times. I enjoy sewing, machine or hand. Hand sewing allows you to quilt, embellish and finish.

  5. I have always enjoyed and admired hand work…beyond sewing, there is needlework to include needlepoint, embroidery and more. It can be a beginning or an end. I have a large basket by my chair that holds multiple projects from the newborn smocked and embroidered romper I’m working on for our granddaughter who is to arrive in March to a needlepoint Christmas ornament that was probably started before 1990!

  6. I have always enjoyed and admired hand work…beyond sewing, there is needlework to include needlepoint, embroidery and more. It can be a beginning or an end. I have a large basket by my chair that holds multiple projects from the newborn smocked and embroidered romper I’m working on for our granddaughter who is to arrive in March to a needlepoint Christmas ornament that was probably started before 1990!

  7. I, too, find hand sewing very relaxing. It makes me feel like I am accomplishing something when I am “just watching TV” It also slows my pace. My grandmother taught me what I know about hand-sewing (she was a Home-Ec teacher in the 1910’s) so I always thing of her, too. She told me anyone who sewed with their thread longer than their arm was just too lazy to tie knots. That has helped me not get my thread in a knot when sewing. The tricks of the trade.

  8. I love hand sewing. You can see the finished product where a machine gets all the credit. I know it’s our hand and knowledge that runs the machine, but it’s our stitches that really make a difference. Some day I would really like to perfect my hand sewing before my arthritis takes complete control.

  9. I’m with you–hand sewing is indeed soothing. I also love the fact that it is extremely portable. Soooo, I can take a project on a plane, a cruise ship, in a car, to a casual meeting. (I get sick in anything that moves, so I have to take measures not to get sick in vehicles, but it is quite worth the trouble!)

  10. I find hand sewing very frustrating. It takes forever to get anything completed.
    I agree with LBuser. My hand sewing pile also accumulates until I run out of space and I have to get out the needle and thread.

  11. I love hand sewing the binding on a quilt – it represents the final step of the quilt.
    I started off as a child doing embroidery so there are lots of memories involved. I am a confirmed machine quilter, but there is definitely something nice about having a hand sewing project. Recently for a fabric journal about my sewing history I sewed some tiny(less than 1 inch) hexagons over papers to represent the first quilting I did – a Grandmothers Flower garden (in the 70s in New Zealand that was where a lot of us started), and I have really loved doing them. This surprised me as I haven’t done anything traditional like this for years.
    I have loved it so much that I have ordered the dies from Accuquilt that cut the papers and the fabric.

  12. I went to a sewing machine store the other day and it had so many machine quilting devices I was astounded. then when your What do you love about hand sewing message came, I realized how much I missed the quiet winter evenings trying to squeeze 10/12 stitches/inch in quilting by hand as my mother in law taught me. And the many appliques lovingly handsewn on my children’s clothing when they were so very young. Thanks for the reminder:)

  13. One thing about hand-sewing or crochet projects is how portable they are! I can fill a tote bag and take it along in the car on trips or stitch and mend while waiting for appointments. Sometimes, I like to listen to TV shows such as Jeopardy more than watch them so hand sewing is perfect for that time of evening, especially when I am too tired to get into anything more complicated. The beauty of hand-sewing, embroidery, crochet, etc. is that you can do some specific designs more carefully than with a machine, and add personal touches spontaneously. It also tells you that you are nearing the end of that project, get ready for the next to begin! Cheers,
    Vicky P., Farmington, NY, USA

  14. One thing about hand-sewing or crochet projects is how portable they are! I can fill a tote bag and take it along in the car on trips or stitch and mend while waiting for appointments. Sometimes, I like to listen to TV shows such as Jeopardy more than watch them so hand sewing is perfect for that time of evening, especially when I am too tired to get into anything more complicated. The beauty of hand-sewing, embroidery, crochet, etc. is that you can do some specific designs more carefully than with a machine, and add personal touches spontaneously. It also tells you that you are nearing the end of that project, get ready for the next to begin! Cheers,
    Vicky P., Farmington, NY, USA

  15. After many quilts pieced by machine, I have recently evolved to art quilting, in which I only use the machine for the final finishing. I discovered the work of Jude Hill which she calls “slow cloth” and is almost exclusively hand done. Her blog, spiritcloth, is a revelation for her many followers, and I have taken several of her on-line workshops. I love the complexity you can get from the layering and stitching that hand sewing allows, and although it does take a good deal more time, the results are worth it.

  16. I agree, handwork is very soothing. While I miss my machine if I’m away too long,I’m never without something in my hands to work on. My biggest passion is Smocking, talk about handwork!!!

  17. Simply loved reading your article! Just reading it was making me slow down and dreaming of the next time I would pick up some hand sewing. I am a novice sewer and I don’t get to making or completing many projects but when it comes down to hand sewing I think I could sit for hours on end whiling away a day just completing a needle pulling thread sequence over and over! Thanks for the tip about the book. Looks right up my alley. dablmo – loved reading your response too!

  18. As a 5 yr old I learned to sew by hand and did so until Jr High and did very well. Also hand embroidery, etc but I now consider “hand work” 2 four letter words. There is only one thing that still has to be done by hand and that is a shank button, everything else my wonderful top of the line Janome does for me!

  19. I love hand sewing. I am working on a red work project now, also love working with wool and crazy quilt squares. It is so relaxing and seems to bring out the creative juices.

  20. I love hand sewing, embroidery etc. I am 58 yrs. old and still remember all the times that I would be sewing/embroidering and would be having a problem and who would come to my rescue to help rip things out for the 500th time? My Dad!! He didn’t always have patience but he sure had plenty when I really needed it. Daddy is gone now and I miss him terribly but when I’m doing anything that needs ripped out I miss him just alittle bit more!!

  21. I totally agree, as much as I quilt by machine, there is something about hand sewing that is so comforting and soothing. I love doing applique and other hand embroidery, while the rest of the family watch tv. This gives me my pleasure of sewing as well as being with them.
    The art of hand sewing lives on ……

  22. I love hand sewing. I always want to make it so you can not even tell that it was sewn together but some how magically blended together. I love to repair things too. Again I want them to be healed and left with no scar. Having 3 boys I had plenty of practice on repairing. There is just something about sitting down with that needle and thread and a piece of work. It just gives you time to think and reflect. I am 66 years old and have been sewing since I could hold a needle and thread. Besides my mother teaching me how to sew we were also taught in elementary school (boys as well as girls) and then of course continued into secondary school (high school for USA). It is a dying art I think.

  23. I also find hand sewing soothing. I also reflect on how a slave girl who could sew was “used up”, often having to sew by dim candlelight. I really enjoy hand sewing quilt pieces with colored thread. My granddaughter has shown an interest and I can’t wait to get her started!

  24. Like so many others, I love sewing by hand. That said, I also understand the frustration of those who see hand sewing as mending (I hate mending!) and sewing on buttons is boring, boring, boring.

    For me, hand sewing is wonderful not only because it is relaxing but because I can do a lot with it that I can’t do by machine–like taking tiny stitches and hiding them in a seam. Couture sewing is almost all done by hand and while I’m not by any means at that level, I still like the detail and control that is only possible by hand.

    I also love to embroider by hand, even though I have a big, fancy embroidery machine. Embroidering by hand seems far more creative than embroidering a purchased design on my machine. I love doing crazy quilts and crazy quilt techniques and again, there is just so much more creativity possible by hand. For example, I can use some of my machine’s fancy stitches on a crazy quilt, but what really makes it POP is to go back and add beading or other embellishment to those stitches. Plus I carry my hand embroidery with me just about everywhere. It’s not as portable as knitting or crocheting (especially when it comes to beading!) but it’s always possible to carry some fabric in a hoop and some embroidery floss in a needle. Add a small pair of scissors and I’m in heaven!

  25. Like so many others, I love sewing by hand. That said, I also understand the frustration of those who see hand sewing as mending (I hate mending!) and sewing on buttons is boring, boring, boring.

    For me, hand sewing is wonderful not only because it is relaxing but because I can do a lot with it that I can’t do by machine–like taking tiny stitches and hiding them in a seam. Couture sewing is almost all done by hand and while I’m not by any means at that level, I still like the detail and control that is only possible by hand.

    I also love to embroider by hand, even though I have a big, fancy embroidery machine. Embroidering by hand seems far more creative than embroidering a purchased design on my machine. I love doing crazy quilts and crazy quilt techniques and again, there is just so much more creativity possible by hand. For example, I can use some of my machine’s fancy stitches on a crazy quilt, but what really makes it POP is to go back and add beading or other embellishment to those stitches. Plus I carry my hand embroidery with me just about everywhere. It’s not as portable as knitting or crocheting (especially when it comes to beading!) but it’s always possible to carry some fabric in a hoop and some embroidery floss in a needle. Add a small pair of scissors and I’m in heaven!

  26. I have always loved hand sewing. I could sit with my husband while he watched TV and sew on buttons, do a hand hem, etc. But now that I have developed arthritis in my right thumb, it is somewhat painful to do hand sewing. I still try to do some, but have to stop when it becomes too painful to continue. I wish I was ambidextrous so I could hand sew with my left hand.

  27. I do some hand sewn applique. Totally love wool hand applique. But my most common form of hand sewing is hand sewing the binding closed on a finally finished quilt! I spend the quiet time, after so much machine stitching to get the top done and my always pieced backs done and the machine quilting done.
    This quiet time I spend with the quilt is my way of saying goodbye and thanks for all the good times together, my very personal signature. Le A. Santa Fe

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