I thought I knew how to sew by hand until I started sewing by machine. I also thought I liked it. It’s relaxing, right? You just go in and out and join some stuff together and voila! You have sewn a thing. Lovely.
But now I’ve been sewing on my sewing machine for 6 months or so, I am doubting and hating my ability to hand sew.
Firstly, I did not realise how much hand sewing is still needed when sewing by machine. I’m shocked! I thought sewing machines were revolutionary inventions that allowed you to knock up a frock in a couple of hours, not slightly imperfect beasts that require you to finish your creations off by hand. Why can’t they do everything?
Secondly, it turns out I am a really scruffy hand sewer. Even just doing a straight running stitch, my stitches are irregularly sized, don’t go in a straight line, and are often at angles from each other. I never noticed this before in the few times I sewed by hand before the machine arrived, but now it has arrived, my hand sewing looks appalling. I mean, I know I’m not going to get my hand stitching to look like machine stitching, but the contrast is so stark, it’s laughable. My hand sewing makes a garment that was looking quite professional look like it was done by a five year old in the dark.
Thirdly, it’s not discreet and does not give me the polished finish it’s supposed to. In fact it does the opposite and is highly visible. I know you are supposed to use hand sewing for things like blind hems and discreetly attaching your lining to a waist band, but as above, I can’t control the needle enough to make this look ok. In fact I think my sewing would look better if I just used the machine to do everything because then even though you would see my stitching, it would be straight and regular.
Finally: there are so many different hand stitching techniques and I don’t know how to do anything apart from just go in and out of fabric with my needle. What is fell stitching? Back stitch? Overcast stitch? This legendary blind hem stitch? More importantly, why do I have to learn these?? I just want to go vroom vroom on my sewing machine! I don’t want to be slowed down by hand sewing!
I know my attitude to hand sewing needs to change if I am going to be able to make more complex items with professional finishes, and I know I am going to have to practice a lot to get it up to scratch.
Do you have any tips for hand sewing? How did you learn it? Are there any good projects to practice on?