HOW DO YOU
DO A BLANKET STITCH?
The blanket stitch takes its name from its
classic use as a stitch in finishing the edges
of blankets. Like all stitches, the blanket is
essentially a straight stitch that occasionally
adds stitch width or that adds stitch width
plus a reverse stitch. The blanket stitch may
be varied by adding or reducing stitch length,
and by increasing or decreasing the stitch
The blanket stitch may be
one of four basic types: Regular with a left
jump, Reverse with a right jump, Stretch with a
left jump, Stretch with a right jump. Above is
an illustration of how blanket stitches are
In the first example, you
will notice that the stitch begins as a
straight stitch and adds a left (only) zig to
the stitch and zags back to the center for
another straight stitch. The Reverse Blanket
Stitch is exactly that. It starts with a
straight stitch and zigs to the right and back.
The Stretch Blanket Stitch adds increased
strength and versatility to the stitch by
reinforcing the straight stitch with a backward
stitch and a second straight stitch prior to
the zig left and back. The Reverse Stretch
Blanket Stitch does the same but in a mirror
image of the other.
The blanket stitch has great utility. It is
often used as an appliqué stitch to attach
appliqués to garments or other items for
decorative purposes. It is frequently used as
an edge stitch such as edging around blankets
from which it derives its name. The blanket
stitch may be used as a buttonhole stitch
especially when backing or stabilizer is
needed. Heirloom sewing uses the blanket stitch
for all manner of decorative applications
including attaching delicate lace and wing
To sew on an appliqué with
the blanket stitch, you have two choices to
make before you sew. Do you adhere the appliqué
to the garment or article first, or do you
simply begin sewing with your blanket
If you choose to stabilize
the appliqué or otherwise attach the appliqué
prior to sewing, you will find a host of
products useful. Heat n’ Bond Light is an iron
on adhesive that you would press on to the back
of the appliqué and set it in place. You might
also consider using Spray 505 an adhesive you
can spray on the back of your appliqué, and set
it in place. Other products are also available
for similar application.
You may also use pins or
basting stitch to initially attach the appliqué
prior to sewing with the blanket stitch to hold
the appliqué in place.
1. Once you are ready to sew
with the blanket stitch, choose the correct
stitch. Align the appliqué so that its edge is
just left of the needle, but not under it.
2. Begin sewing slowly
making sure to sew the straight portion of the
stitch just outside the appliqué on the base
fabric or garment. Watch the blanket stitch zig
over to stitch on the appliqué.
3. Remember, you can adjust
how far the stitch goes into the appliqué by
adjusting the stitch width control up or down.
Also you can adjust how close together the zig
portions of stitches are by increasing or
decreasing the stitch length control.
4. Sewing is not a precise
or perfect science. Use the blanket stitch to
make the appliqué look the way you like it. The
Finished product is fantastic.
5. The finished project is a
beautiful finished appliqué that will inspire
its user for a long time. This project is an
appliqué for a towel. Ethan, our grandson,
called his Dad at work today and asked, “Please
digimatize Sparky for me.” Well, Grandma heard
about it and immediately set out to fill the
need with this precious little appliqué.
The Blanket Stitch makes a great edge stitch.
Before sewing machines came along, the blanket
stitch was hand sewn on the edge of blankets to
make a functional and attractive edge finish.
Today the blanket stitch is a popular choice
for this application.
To sew an edge stitch is
very similar to sewing on an appliqué. Fold the
raw edge of the fabric over about an eighth of
an inch and finger press it in place. Position
the folded edge of the blanket, bib, garment,
or other project just left of the needle, but
not under it. Begin sewing and adjust the
stitch for its most appealing setting.
Once the edge stitching is
completed, a second step is required. Turn the
fabric over and notice that some of the folded
over edge is left a bit sloppy. Using your
embroidery scissors or pelican shears, trim off
the excess fabric from the blanket stitch
leaving a beautifully finished edge. The
illustration below illustrates the basic
technique, but you will find it easy to trim
Another popular use of the Blanket Stitch is in
the arena of Heirloom Sewing. Here it is used
for a variety of decorative applications
including attaching lace, sewing with winged
needle, and fagoting.
To attach lace using the
Blanket Stitch, align the fabric with the left
side of the needle. Position the lace in line
with the needle. Using a blanket stitch,
carefully guide the straight stitching along
the edge of the fabric while feeding the lace
into the seam. The blanket stitch will zig over
to the left picking up the fabric and attaching
it to the lace. This technique is ideal for
adding lace to infant garments, bibs,
tablemats, and hundreds of other similar
Align the fabric with the
left side of needle.
Align the lace with the
right side of the needle.
Straight stitch along
Zig over to pick up the
Guide the fabric with your left hand.
Feed the lace along with
your right hand.
The Blanket Stitch will join
The finished product is not
only functional, it is beautiful.
Using the Blanket Stitch
will make you proud of your sewing.
The Finished product is
always amazing. Notice, if you use a winged
needle you can add a special feature of little
holes along the end of the blanket stitch as
you see here.
Notice the distinct holes on the left. These
are made by the winged needle in the fabric. It
makes an interesting addition.
Here are some additional
samples of the special effects you can achieve
using the blanket stitch with the winged needle
for that heirloom impact.
You can sew decorative
stitches, add lace in the middle of a garment,
or add lace to the edge easy as it can be.
Another neat technique is
fagoting, which is simply joining two fabrics
into one without overlapping them. Using the
Blanket Stitch is easy to create a gorgeous
heirloom effect using the fagoting
To fagot two fabrics, fold
over their raw edges and press or finger press
them down. Line them up with the presser foot
of the sewing machine so that the left fabric
is slightly under the needle ready for the
straight stitch portion of the stitch.
The Blanket Stitch sews
straight on one fabric while zigging over to
attach the other fabric. The two fabrics are
thus joined together using the Fagoting
The finished product is
simple, where there were two, there are now
one. The two separate fabric pieces are now
One additional application
of the Blanket Stitch is its use on button
holes. You may see these on thick fleece or
winter coats. They are especially useful for
larger buttons requiring larger
Begin by marking the start
and stop of the button hole by measuring the
button (lay the button down) and marking the
ends with pins. It is always a good idea to
stabilize buttonholes by placing special
stabilizer fabric under the location where you
intend to make the buttonhole.
Then proceed to sew
completely around the buttonhole carefully
pivoting around the ends.
The zig of the stitch should
reach into the buttonhole, while the straight
stitch portion maintains a solid perimeter.
The finished button hole is
strong and dependable. It is also a beautiful
buttonhole thanks to the Blanket Stitch.
Donna Trumble is a professional designer,
seamstress, author, sewing educator, and sewing
business owner. She leads several
Sewing Show And Tell groups in her stores
guiding participants to shop sewing machines
and learn about sewing and quilting.
David Trumble is a sewing
professional, author, semi-retired minister,
sewing machine technician, and CFO of Temple
Sewing And Supply, Inc.
For more information on sewing show and tell
groups, check out "Sewing, The World's Greatest
Hobby" by Donna and David Trumble. And
check out the local Sew And Quilt Stores in
Killeen, Temple, and Waco, Texas or at