Even if you have loads of fancy machines and tools, there’s no replacement for hand sewing in certain situations in garment construction. It lends the hand of the maker to the finished item and allows you to use couture sewing techniques when sewing your own clothes. One of the most common stitches you’ll need is the simple yet essential baste stitch.
What is the baste stitch in sewing?
Baste stitches are elongated running stitches that’s used to temporarily hold fabric in place. It’s made to be removed, and the long stitches make it easy to pull out the thread later on.
You may have sewn baste stitches on your sewing machine by simply sewing a straight stitch on a long stitch length, 4.0 or higher. Sewing the baste stitch by hand is the same principle.
Though a machine can be handy for this step, the length of a machine’s baste stitch is limited to the machine’s settings; however, hand-sewn baste stitches can be even longer, making it a fast and ideal stitch for sewing up seams when fitting a muslin. The stitches will come out fast since they are so long and you can move onto the next phase of the fitting process.
Follow along to learn how to baste stitch by hand
Thread your hand sewing needle with your chosen thread and tie a knot at the end. Make sure to use an appropriate needle size and type for the fabric you are sewing with. Insert the needle into the fabric from frontside to backside. (Because you’ll remove the stitches eventually, it doesn’t really matter whether the knot is on the right or wrong side of the fabric.)Pull the needle and thread through the fabric so there is a knot on one side and all the thread is on the opposite side of the fabric.
Insert the needle through the fabric from the underside to the front side, equal to the distance of your preferred stitch length away from the original knot.
Before pulling the needle through the fabric, insert the needle point into the front of the fabric to the underside, that same preferred stitch length.
Repeat by inserting the needle back to the front of the fabric the same length as all the other stitch lengths so far, but again, still not pulling the needle through just yet.
Repeat one more time by sticking the needle point through from the front to the back of the fabric, maintaining the same stitch length.
Pass the needle through to the front one more time, then finally pull it through the fabric, creating all the stitches at once. If you were even in your stitches as you were passing from front to back, they will all be of equal length, on both the front and the back of the fabric.
Repeat all of the previous steps to make the seam as long as you desire. It can be tricky to create a perfectly straight line when doing the stitches this way, so if you’re making a muslin, following a stitch line can be really handy!
And that’s it — a perfect baste stitch sewn by hand!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2014 and was updated in February 2018.