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Basic Sewing Stitches to Know

There are many kinds of stitches out there, so how do you decide which ones are the most important? What sewing stitches should you know beforehand, and what exactly do those stitches look like? Well, I’m here to help resolve some of those questions.

Running Stitch

This is the most basic and common stitch. It basically runs like a dotted line down your fabric and is used for sewing basic seams, hems, gathers and several other functions. Almost every other stitch has drawn from the basis of the running stitch making this an extremely important stitch for you to learn and know by memory.

Historically, this stitch is also seen in some clothing and embroidery styles that are thousands of years old. The running stitch is one of the first stitches designed and has also been used as a decorative stitch. It’s not just for sewing things together. This stitch is very versatile, so spend some time if you can just experimenting with its many uses.


On many sewing machines, including the Singer Stylist 7258 I use, there is generally a backstitch button. You will notice that this basic stitch applies a running stitch in reverse. It has several embroidery purposes, but for the sake of this article, in sewing, the backstitch is used to permanently hold multiple layers of fabric together. With sewing, it becomes a utility stitch more often than a decorative stitch. It’s very versatile in its usage though so take time to experiment with this stitch.

Zigzag Stich

As the name suggests, this creates a zigzag row down the fabric. It can be used decoratively in embroidery and sewing, but it also suffices as a way to prevent further fabric fraying. As you sew, you will see that fabric tends to fray at its edges. Zigzag stitches help to hold that fraying off. The zigzag stitch is not the only stitch you can use for this process though. Several other stitches exist for that as well. This includes serge stitching, which completely seals the edges off so that they cannot fray.

Buttonhole Stitch

More modern sewing machines come with a buttonhole foot for the machine and a specific stitch to make buttonholes. This provides an easier method to making buttonholes than doing it by hand. This stitch also used for couch stitching, applying appliques to fabric and several other functions. Once more, this is another stitch with multiple purposes besides utility.

Blanket Stitch

This stitch is used to finish off the edges of thicker materials. It’s also another form of the buttonhole stitch. The stitches form small squares, or blankets, as they continue on down the fabric. I’ve personally never used this stitch yet, but it may come in use further down the line as you continue to work on cosplay.

Basting/Tack Stitch

This stitch is used to temporarily hold fabric together. More often than not, a basting stich is later removed once its purpose has been served. This stitch is also a basic running stitch but the distance between stitches has been significantly lengthened since this stitch will typically be removed later on. It’s merely to hold a collective of fabrics together until you’ve done your final stitching. When stitching after a basting stitch, try not to run over the basting stitch as it will become difficult to remove the baste stitches later on.

Overcast Stitch

This stitch is used to finish off the raw edges of fabrics. This is a very useful stitch as it also helps prevent fraying. I’ve used it multiple times thus far, and perhaps you might too. Machines generally have a setting for this stitch.

Catch Stitch/Cross Stitch

For hemming purposes, this stitch is used to finish the edges. There are numerous hem stitches that exist. Cross stitching was also once widely used and until it no longer became a fad, it was one of the most used stitches. 

Final Thoughts

There are numerous stitches available to you as you sew and grow on your journey. These listed are by no means all the simple stitches there are. There are plenty of them, but I thought this would be a good way to introduce some of those stitches and how to form a few. The sewing machine, if you have that, fortunately does most of the work. If you have any questions, as always, leave a comment below, and I will answer as soon as I can.

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8 thoughts on “Basic Sewing Stitches to Know

  1. Hello, this is a very awesome piece and a very detailed one. I’m really happy I came across this as the information I’m getting from here is standard. I’m not a tailor or good with stitches but I feel everyone should know about basic stitching, every mum. I only knew of running stitches and it’s nice to see these other types. I’m thinking of getting a machine, if I eventually do, I’ll let you know 

  2. Hey Eiran Silver! 

    Muchas gracias for sharing this very beautiful, well detailed and informative piece of information with us. I am very happy I came across this because it contains all the all the valuable information one needs to hold on to. You constructed this article pretty well and I must say I really enjoyed it as It was easy and straight forward. This article will go a long way in showing us that everyone could learn sewing easily. Off to share now

  3. Hello there thanks a lot for sharing this beautiful piece  of information here with us. I must say i really did enjoyed going through your review as it contains valuable informations one needs to be aware of. This takes me back to my olden days when i learnt how to stitch, i probably know how to do almost all of the stitches listed out here and it is fun to make

  4. It has been a long long time ago that I took the home ed class. I vaguely remembered about sewing, I was horrible at it lol thanks for sharing such and informative post! I only know how to do the running stitch. The diagram helps a lot. Do you have any sewing machine suggestions for a new sewer like me? 

    1. Honestly, the sewing machine that I use is pretty simple. It’s the Singer Stylist Model 7258. It’s all digital and placing feet and needles is pretty simple. It also has instructions on how to fill up bobbins, the class of bobbins it needs and much more. I’ve had this machine for a long time, probably about 7 years, so to some it might seem dated, but I think it’s perfect for people just starting out. Other sewing machines have inputs and whatnot but get more and more complex depending on the threading and stitches you use. I’ve been able to play with a couple models when I was on a college campus, and I think I still prefer my own sewing machine. 

  5. Knowing the right stitch to use for the material is very important when finishing your work. From my little sewing experience I have seen stitches to determine the final outlook of my work. I will try the blank stitches and see how the will come ou on jeans or chinos wears for male 

  6. I know the very basic of sewing that I learned from my grandmother and my mother when I was still very young. My husband has gifted me a sewing machine for my birthday 2 years ago and it helped me improve more my sewing skills, but not much.:) The only stitch that I am very familiar with is the forward/backward stitch and I use it a lot when sewing. I also used the zigzag stitch once in a while but it’s difficult for me to calculate the distance to assure that it really reaches the very edge. Do you have a technique for that?

    1. Thank you for the comment, and what I typically do to try and keep an even row of zigzags is mark it with tailor’s chalk or something washable and follow that line while I’m sewing with the machine. It makes it a lot easier for myself if I have a line to guide my fabric and eyes to. I hope this helps. 

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