How to Start a Hand Stitch

Learn how to start a stitch hand sewing with this simple tutorial.

Whether you are a sewing beginner or went straight to machine sewing, this tutorial on How to Start a Hand Stitch is just what you need to learn the basics. We will go over the materials needed and each step of the process to get right down to it.

You'll be hand stitching in no time with this easy-to-follow tutorial. Plus, after the tutorial, you will find a whole slew of free hand stitching patterns. Use your new skill to make any of the pretty patterns or others you find on the many sewing blogs.

Once you want to learn how to start sewing by hand, then use this tutorial to do hand embroidery, add top stitching, embellishments, and more hand sewing projects. It may be the main type of sewing you are using or it may be simply to add smaller or special details to a machine-stitched project, but it's great to know if you want to be an expert in sewing.

Check out the full tutorial with images below to learn how to start and end a hand stitch. This is a great beginner sewist lesson. Plus, we have a selection of free hand stitching projects for you to try once you've mastered this skill.

Hand Stitching Tutorial

How to Start a Stitch by Hand:

Before starting, you need to gather supplies. You only need a few things but the specifics are important.

  • Hand sewing needle
    There are many different sizes and types of hand sewing needles. Learn more about choosing the best one by reading our page on Sewing Needle Types.
  • Sewing thread
    Read through What Types of Thread to Use: A Sewing Guide to help you choose the best thread for your project.
  • Scissors
    Any sharp scissors that can cut thread without splitting it will work.
  • Fabric/items you are stitching
    If you want to learn more about fabric, then check out Sewing for Beginners: Types of Fabric.
  • Optional notions: needle threader, pins, measuring tape, embroidery hoop
    If you are a beginner or want to speed things up, then using these helpful tools may be important to have ready.


  1. Thread your needle, cut, and knot the tail of your thread.

    Note: The length of thread needed depends on the project but a safe bet is to start with about 10-15 inches. It's easy to rethread and start again. Plus, a longer piece of thread has more of a chance to get knotted while you're working.

  2. Coming up through the bottom of your fabric, push the needle and thread through and lightly pull up until the knot has reached the back of the fabric.

  3. For a standard straight stitch: Move forward about 4mm and push the needle and thread back down through the fabric.

    Note: The length of your stitch is dependent on which type of stitch you are using. Find more information by looking through this Embroidery Stitches Free PDF Book from Muse of the Morning.

  4. Again, depending on the stitch you are using, you will move another 2-4mm or so or push the needle and thread up next to the stitch you have already completed and through to the front. Then back down, matching the same length of your previous stitch (unless otherwise desired).

  5. Repeat the process with consistent stitch lengths going from the front to the back until your hand sewing design is finished.

  6. How to end a hand stitch: Turn the piece around to the back. Push the needle through a part of the first stitch at least once to secure.

  7. Once the beginning and ending threads are knotted together, cut the excess thread.

  8. Make any additional finishing touches as needed and you're done! Enjoy your hand-stitched artwork.

Free Hand Sewing Patterns

Raindrops Bean Bag DIY Kids’ Game

This children's game sewing pattern could not be more fun to make!

Vintage Car with Christmas Tree DIY Ornament

Use your hand stitching skills to create decorations like this DIY ornament for Christmas.

Felt Embroidery DIY Paper Clip Craft

Who would want a normal paper clip when you can create an adorably embroidered version?

Home Run Baseball Embroidery Hoop

Any sports fan will love making or receiving this fun and sports-tastic embroidery hoop baseball.

Rainbow DMC Stitchable Cuff Pattern

You will not believe how easy this embroidered bracelet is to make! It's stylish, too!

Sequins Embellished Felt Flowers

These beautiful flowers can be used to decorate anything and making them is so fun.

Peppy Penguin DIY Ornament

Use basic hand stitches to design this beyond cute felt penguin ornament for the holidays.

Free Watermelon Embroidery Pattern

Summer parties will be even more festive with this easy-to-make watermelon embroidery pattern.

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