The majority of projects you encounter require at least a little Hand stitching. Often, it’s the final Seam closure after turning a project Right side out. The goal is to make your Hand stitching as invisible as possible. Although it’s tempting to rush through this last bit of stitching, the Pro Secret is to take the extra time to create a clean Finish. The most common (and quick) Hand stitching choice is usually the Whip Stitch, but it doesn’t yield the best look. We recommend the Ladder Stitch, also called a Slip stitch.

The Whip Stitch is a fast and secure stitch that wraps around the two folded edges of your opening, cinching them closed. It’s certainly an option for some situations, but it’s not the best choice when your Seam shows on the exterior of the project – it always ends up looking like you’ve closed up a wound. The stitches are visible and there is a slight pucker along the length of the closure.

Instead, try the Ladder or Slip stitch to create an invisible Seam between two folded edges, or a folded edge and a flat edge. You can use a this Hand stitch for bindings, to close a Lining, for the final stitches on a stuffed pillow, or to apply Appliqué invisibly.

The smoother and tighter your stitches and the better the match of your Thread to your fabric, the more invisible the stitches will appear.

  1. Collect your tools. In addition to a Needle and matching Thread, we recommend a Needle threader (we love this lighted one by Dritz®). If you’re closing up a longer Seam, you might also want to consider using a Thimble.
  2. Iron the folds of your opening flat.
  3. Slip your threaded Needle inside the fold to hide its knot.
  4. Bring the Needle out through the folded edge.
  5. Push the Needle into the opposite fold – directly across from the fold where it came out.
  6. Slide along this opposite fold about ⅛” – ¼”, staying inside the fold, then push the Needle out again.
  7. Bring the Needle straight up from where it came out and insert into the opposite fold.
  8. Continue this back-and-forth-and-slide pattern until you reach the end of your opening.
  9. As shown in the drawing below, as you cross from folded edge to folded edge, you are creating the look of the “ladder” that gives the stitch its name. In the drawing below, the solid green lines are the tiny stitches that show and the dotted lines are what is happening inside the folds.

The pillows we used for these technique examples are made from our popular Relaxing Neck Pillow pattern. You can find the full instructions here.

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3 years ago

I’m never sure how to end this stitch, and most tutorials don’t show how. Do I tie a knot at the end? If so, how do I hide it? Any good tutorials or youtube videos you can point me to?

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Taryn

@ Taryn – The traditional method is to use a small, simple knot with your needle and thread, cinching it up tight against the seam and trimming the tails close. Take a stitch, leaving a loop, and feed your needle back though that knot and pull tight. Do that once, twice – or even three times. Whether or not you can kind of bury it within the seam and/or the surrounding fabric depends on the project and the fabric type you are using. For example, hiding the knot in fleece or corduroy is easy; hiding it on silk is a… Read more »

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