How To Sew
HAND SEWING ARTS
Today, Sewing is the world’s greatest hobby.
While it use to be a crucial skill for
survival, sewing today offers new horizons of
self expression and creative joy. Today sewing
is fun, relaxing, and deeply satisfying.
When people think of sewing,
many think of different things. In the broadest
sense, the term “Sewing” denotes the use of
thread and needle in a much wider range of
activities and needle arts. “Sewing” may be
divided into two categories:
1. Hand Sewing Arts
2.Machine Sewing Arts.
Hand Sewing Arts
Hand sewing arts are also
described as needlework. They include Crochet,
Hand Embroidery, Knitting, Macrame’, Rug
Making, Tatting, Cross Stitch, and Hand Sewing.
These arts have dominated sewing for thousands
of years, and are considered to be traditional
arts of excellence and beauty using threads and
needles. When you learn how to sew hand
sewing arts or needlework, you will enjoy
creating treasured momentos beloved by all.
Crochet is a needlework
system of interlocking looped stitches formed
by a single hook and a single yarn for creating
delicate open designs. Crochet became popular
almost four hundred years ago as a means to
creating “American Lace”. Today, crochet is a
treasured heritage skill used for making items
for home and family such as pot holders.
You can learn how to sew crochet by mastering a
few basic terms and stitch combinations and
following the detailed crochet patterns
When you look at a Crochet
pattern, it may look a bit intimidating. It is
full of strange letter combinations that
require you master the Crochet code or
language. For example, you will see
abbreviations for beginning as beg; block as
bl; and cluster as cl. Not only do you need to
master the code, you have a whole set of terms,
definitions, intricate designs, and skill sets
to learn. It is indeed a highly skilled art
form. You will quickly be able to
demonstrate how to sew your crochet and
needlework for everyone to enjoy.
Actually doing crochet is a matter of using the
hook or large needle to twist, wrap, insert,
arrange, and otherwise hand loop a single yarn
to form a multitude of stitch patterns.
The combinations form
stitches described as half crochet, single
crochet, double crochet, and treble crochet.
The stitches are chained together in rows,
joined, and expanded to form the interlocking
patterns. Different sized crochet hooks made of
various materials are also used for a variety
The end result is an
intricate design such as one of the afghan
stitch patterns (Basic, Cluster, Crossed
Tunisian, Framed Squares, Mesh, Purl, etc.)
There are hundreds of different patterns and
variations producing truly amazing crochet
art. You may even enjoy teaching others
how to sew crochet.
Embroidery is a technique to
embellish fabric using decorative threads.
Color, texture, and design become the artistic
tools of expression with thread and needle.
These techniques are commonly applied to
borders, motifs, and elaborate designs on the
face of the fabric. There are hundreds of
different stitches used to create beautiful
effects. There are border stitches, design
stitches, edge stitches, fill stitches, outline
stitches, and more.
This is a classic artform
passed from generation to generation as each
individual discovers how to sew beautiful hand
There are special tools and
materials used in this art form. They include a
collection of needles including the crewel
needle (short needle with long skinny eye in
sizes from 1 to 12. Lower number is largest
needle.), chenille needle (sizes 13 to 26), and
tapestry needles (sizes 13 to 26). Embroidery
frames are used to stabilize the fabric while
it is being worked on. These come in many sizes
from small lap circles to large free standing
square frames. Fabrics may range from simple
open mesh canvas to elaborate tapestry.
Embroidery scissors both
large and small are essential for cutting yarns
and threads. A stiletto may be used to make
eyelet holes. A thimble is essential for
protecting the finger from the sharp end of the
needle when pushing through the fabric. Yarns
and threads of all kinds are used to create
amazing color, texture, and design. Keep
in mind that you can learn how to sew fabulous
items quicker than you imagined.
Embroidery stitches may be
classified by how they lay on a fabric. Flat
stitches lay flat. Knotted stitches are more
raised. Liked stitches offer an interlocking
appearance. Looped stitches include the blanket
and feather stitches which offer a combination
of flat and raised appearance. Hand embroidery
stitches rival the most advanced sewing
machines in complexity and number of different
As sheer artwork, hand
embroidery is often considered superior to the
more modern machine embroidery. There are
designs and features of hand embroidery that
can and will probably never be reproduced
through machine embroidery. Although, machine
embroidery is much faster, hand embroidery is
like painting by hand with thread and
yarn. You challenge is two fold.
Learn how to sew hand embroidery and pass on
this treasured skill by teaching others how to
Hand knitting is very
similar to crochet in that it is a needlework
system of interlocking looped stitches formed
by using two (instead of one hook as in
crochet) large knitting needles and a single
yarn for creating delicate open designs. It has
been traced back to about 200AD from the region
of modern day Arabia. Theory has it that
Arabian travelers such as sailors, traders, and
adventurers took this special skill with them
and taught it to people wherever they
Knitting remains a popular
fashion oriented needle art. Among the more
common items made today include afghans, baby
blankets, booties, and other novel heirloom
items. Many people tend to shy away from
needleart, but when you learn how to sew hand
knitting; you will love it.
Like crochet, knitting has a
special code of its own. When you begin looking
at a knitting pattern for the first time, it
looks like long lists of gibberish. The code
might look something like this: inc R for
increase to the right; psso for pass or pull
slipped stitch over; or wyib for yarn to back
of work. It takes some time to figure out all
the details of the code, and even longer to
master the intricate skill sets to make the
almost limitless stitches and patterns.
Basically, the vast array of
knitting stitches are variations on either the
basic knit stitch or the purl stitch. These
variations are applied in many different
designs as well. Each stitch demonstrates
how to sew the knitting for different
appearance and variety of style.
Knitting needles are
available in both an American and a British
system of identification. In the British
system, they run from eighteen down to eight
(18, 17, 16,…13,… 8). From the British thirteen
to the British eight you have equivalent
American size zero to ten and a half
0,1,2,3,…). There are also circular needles,
double pointed straight needles, jumper
needles, and single point straight needles.
Knitting yarn comes in a
wide range of fibers (wool, cotton, silk,
linen, synthetics), colors, textures, sizes,
and twists. Each yarn offers its own special
uses and qualities. It is simplest, however, to
simply follow the pattern for best
results. Get startedtoday. Learn
how to sew knitting.
Macrame' is basically knot
tying to produce fringe or coarse lace designed
in a geometrical patterns. It has an uncertain
origin, but has been traced back to the Spain
and France and even back to Middle Eastern
A quick glance at macrame’
and you may be convinced that it is far too
complicated to actually do or learn how to sew
it, but once the two basic knots are mastered,
it is sometimes described as the easiest of the
needle arts. These two knots are the square
knot and the Half Hitch. The combination of
these simple knots quickly becomes an awe
inspiring display with amazing results.
The materials used for
macrame’ are quite simple: yarns, cord, rope,
pins, measuring tape, pins, pinning board,
rubber bands, glue, and crochet hook for
occasional poking and twisting. This needle art
certainly reminds one of the exceptional knot
tying skills of sailors.
Rug making is an application
needle art to a specific practical emphasis:
making floor coverings. This art form taps many
different skills and techniques including
Braiding, Crochet, Embroidery, Hooking,
Knitting, and Knotting. You are likely to have
one of these art forms in your home right now.
We have an embroidered rug in our family room.
We also have a braided rug in our kitchen.
In a sense this may not be
exactly how to sew rugs, but since it involves
fabric and "needles" it fits into the broad
catagory of needlework or needle art. It
is also easy to learn how to sew rugs using
Fabric for rug making may be made by cutting
long strips of fabric, tearing the strips, or
purchasing the precut rolls of fabric. The
width of the fabric will in large part
determine the size of your hooking and knots.
The narrower the fabric the smaller the
hooking, and the wider the fabric gives you
Tatting is needlework using
shuttle and thread to make loops and knots to
create gorgeous lace.
My grandmother was an expert
at tatting. She would sit for hours creating
the most delicate lace for table coverings,
lace collars, and all manner of other lace
items. I remember being awestruck at how
complicated it all seemed. I thought it must
take years to learn how to sew tatting.
Later, I was assured that if you learn the
basic stitch, everything else comes
automatically. Indeed, it is fun when you
can demonstrate how to sew tatting for others
Cross stitch is like
embroidery in that it embellishes fabrics, but
cross stitch uses special cloth called ida
cloth with specific count weave. This fabric
allows the cross stitch artist to create
designs, drawings, and images with cross
stitch. You can learn how to sew cross
stitch by following a few basic rules and using
the great cross stitch patterns now
Cross Stitch has become
highly popular for producing wall hangings with
wise sayings and interesting eye catching
designs. Cross stitch may be seen framed much
like an ordinary photo or in a hoop which
serves as a homey touch.
While many attempts have
been made to imitate cross stitch using
computer software, many people prefer the look
and feel of traditional hand stitching. I
frequently hear comments like, I love to cross
stitch because I can relax in my rocker and
stitch away, and when I am done everyone loves
Why not get started now and
learn how to sew cross stitch, or if you are
already proficient; show others how to sew
Hand Sewing And Hand Quilting
Perhaps the most versatile
needle art is hand sewing and hand quilting.
Not only does it offer highly practical
applications, it also offers great beauty and
It is easy to get started if
you learn how to sew by hand one stitch at a
Clothing construction and
embellishment have long been a primary focus of
hand sewing. Home decorating, pillows, soft
furniture covers, draperies, and other projects
have also been popular applications. Quilting
is also a part of sewing in which fabrics are
joined, layered, and quilted (sewn
Hand sewing and hand
quilting involve many special tools for
cutting, layout, measuring, and stitching.
Special hand sewing needles are used for
hundreds of different stitches and their
applications. Scissors, snips, and seam rippers
are vital tools. Tape measures and rulers make
measuring easy. Quilters find that quilt frames
or wooden frames are useful for holding fabrics
stable during the quilting process.
All of these activities and
traditional needle arts may be described as
handwork or Hand Sewing Arts.
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.