In this sewing tutorial I will show you how to make an invisible stitch by hand.
Table of contents
- What is an invisible stitch and how to do it correctly
- How to do an invisible stitch step-by-step while fixing a tear in a pillow
- How to sew an invisible hem by hand
- How to to make a truly invisible hem on silk garments
What is an invisible stitch?
Invisible stitch (slip stitch, or ladder stitch, or blind hem stitch) is a very popular hand sewing stitch and knowing how to do invisible stitch by hand is really helpful as you can prolong the life of many things (garments, pillows, soft toys, even furniture) and even save money on alterations if you can easily repair holes in expensive leather products, for example.
If you master this technique you can hem pants, skirts, curtains, carefully repair a tear in your favorite pillow, attach patches, etc. We use it also to finish waistbands on skirts and pants, to sew pieces of a bodice lining to a bodice or a zipper, to finish sleeveless armholes, etc.
Invisible stitch is called also slip stitch, or ladder stitch, or blind hem stitch.
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On the right side of the item it should look like the item was sewn exclusively using a sewing machine but only if all the stitches are neat, with the same intervals between each other.
An invisible stitch is a concealed stitch for sewing together fabric edges and suitable for most materials, from thin silk chiffon to leather and fur.
Sewing a hidden stitch is relatively simple to do and doesn’t require special skills of a seamstress but in order to make a beautiful and really hidden stitch you should follow some guidelines below. I have to warn you that this would not work well immediately without practice so make a test sample first on scrap fabric.
— Always pay attention to the quality of the thread. Use strong good-quality threads so you’ll never have an invisible stitch come out because of a broken thread. It should be strong enough to hold the seam closed. But it can’t be thicker than the fabric. It can be difficult to find cheap, good quality thread and here Amazon helps with their excellent return policy: text the thread and if not good enough, simply return it!
The reviews on Amazon tell us that all brands have from time to time a quality issue; some batches are better than others. Beware that embroidery thread, while good quality, may be too thin for regular sewing so it may not always be suitable for sewing.
— Choose the thread that matches the fabric color. If you can’t match the color perfectly, choose the thread that is a shade darker in color than the fabric.
— Never use a blunt needle, only a sharp one. Check if the needle is thin enough for the fabric and the needle eye is small enough so it doesn’t leave large punctures in the fabric. Needles are cheap, andwhen sewing by hand, they will last a very long time. My advice: use good quality brand name needles.
— For the invisible seam to be really invisible your stitches should be uniform, spaced at the same distance. Don’t make the distance between stitches too large – otherwise these small sections may become noticeable on the finished garment.
— Don’t tighten the thread too much.
— When repairing toys or pillows with the foam inside make sure that the foam doesn’t stick out from the item.
How to do invisible stitch step-by-step
Let me show you how to do invisible stitch by hand repairing a tear in a pillow.
I am going to use this pillow as you see in the image below. As you can see some stitches came out on one of the sides of the pillow. I am sure this is a common problem and everybody has a pillow, or a toy, or a chair to repair. I will fix it and will show you how to invisible stitch a tear.
Thread a needle and make a knot (hey, don’t skip reading this)
The needle for this stitch has to be sharp, thin, with a small eye and not long, more on shorter side. Check my tutorial on threading a hand sewing needle and making a knot if you want to know some useful tips and tricks on how to do it fast and easy.
Well, I know I know what you may think now – “I am sewing for 20 years and she tells me to go and read how to thread a needle, huh!?” Just do it and you may be surprised at how many helpful tricks are there – I didn’t know half of them myself before my vision got worse.
For this tutorial I used thick white thread so you can see it clearly but you should always use the thread of matching color and a little bit thinner than the fabric. Then your hand sewing stitches will be really invisible. In the image below you can see how I was threading the needle with dental floss.
Pull out the needle from the inside of the item so that the knot is hidden in the fold.
Run the needle through the fold so that the working thread comes out exactly from the fold of the fabric.
Move to the opposite side of the opening and insert the needle close to the starting point, grab 2-6 mm (1/16 – 1/4 in) of fabric with the needle connecting the two parts.
Make sure the needle is going directly into the fold.
Move to the opposite side again and grab 2-6 mm (1/16 – ¼ in) of fabric.
Pull the thread until the stitch is hidden in the crease between the fabric folds.
Continue doing that until you come to the end of the opening, pulling the thread every couple of stitches.
Very important moment – don’t overtighten the thread!
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In the image below you can see how the thread is supposed to go into the fabric folds (before you tighten it)
At the end of the opening (when you reached the part that wasn’t undone) finish sewing by tying a knot.
But don’t cut the thread yet – you should try to hide the thread tail inside the item: just run the needle (still threaded) through the fabric and come out of the fabric in some random spot. Pull the thread a little making sure the knot got inside the seam and cut the thread. The thread tail will be hidden inside.
As you can see even if I used the white thread for the green pillow the stitch I made is completely invisible and the white thread disappeared inside the fabric folds.
I hope you learned how to sew an invisible stitch correctly.
But wait, there is more info on making invisible stitching.
Blind hem stitch by hand
An invisible stitch is also called BLIND HEM STITCH and is used for sewing a hem by hand.
It’s very easy to make an invisible hem using a blind stitch presser foot of a sewing machine and you can check my tutorial on blind hem stitching by machine here.
Now let’s see how to use an invisible stitch for sewing blind hems by hand. It is a quick and easy way to make a professionally looking invisible hem on the clothes you sew.
So if you want to learn how to hand sew a hem then continue reading.
Prepare the hem.
For this (for example) draw a line with a sewing marker 1 cm (⅜ in) from the edge of fabric, fold fabric with pins or a running stitch and press with an iron.
Draw another line 3 cm ( 1 1/4″) from the folded edge, fold fabric inside again with pins or a running stitch, press.
Now you are ready to learn how to hand sew a hem.
I am going to use a thick white thread so you can see how an invisible hem is done. But you should use the thread of matching color of course and thinner than the fabric. The technique used is essentially the same as in the example before even if the type of work is really different so do not be surprised if the steps are the same.
Fold the fabric like this in the image below.
Hide the knot of the thread inside the fold, run the needle into the fold, then draw it up through the top crease.
Grab a few threads of the fabric just above the fold with the needle so on the outside of the fabric nothing (well, almost nothing) can be seen.
Put the needle back into the fold, keep the needle parallel to the fold. And on you go.
The length of the stitch in the fold is 3-5 mm (1/8 – 1/4 in)
Very important moment – don’t overtighten the thread!
As you can see on the right side of the item we have only tiny stitches that cover only a few threads from the fabric structure. And if you used matching color thread then you made an invisible hem (or as they say a blind hem). I didn’t use correct thread for this fabric so the stitches are a little bit more noticeable. But I did it on purpose so you can see how it’s done.
How to to make a truly invisible hem on silk garments
Now let me show you some amazing technique I use sometimes to sew invisible hems for silk garments. The hem in this case turns out to be absolutely invisible.
It’s a little bit time consuming because hems are sewn by hand in this case but the result is really fantastic – on the front side of the garment there is absolutely no hint of visible stitches.
Sometimes I feel like it is simply impossible to spoil an exquisite delicate silk blouse or dress with a line of stitches along the hem. Regular hem finishes just don’t fit the style of the garment. But this method is good only for straight hems or only slightly curved. So, what are the steps?
If you want to remember this article for the invisible hem on silk, please save the below pin and come back whenever you need to refer to the information!
Make sure you your hemline is straight. If you would like to know how to cut fabric perfactly straight check out my tutorial “8 simple ways to cut fabric perfectly straight”
Using a special marking pen or chalk, mark a straight line 1.5 – 2 cm from the edge. If you need to convert centimeters to inches and fractions visit my conversion calculator here.
Apply a piece of thinnest knit fusible webbing 1.5 cm wide with an iron.
There are ready-made fusible tapes (follow the link for an example) but I used my regular fusible knit interfacing (for knits) – I just cut a strip of it 1.5 cm wide. A regular fusible tape will not work well with delicate silk fabric, so for silk, I always use Pellon fusible knit interfacing.
Fold the fabric edge to the bottom line of the fusible tape, baste and press.
Fold the hem again but now to the upper line of the fusible tape. You can use pins to do it. But they have to be very thin and sharp – special pins for delicate silk fabric. Baste and press again.
Sew the hem by hand with invisible stitches inserting the needle only into the fusible tape. Be careful not to grab some threads from the silk fabric.
Take out the basting thread and press.
As you can see in the images above, the hemline is clean, without a hint of black thread stitches (I used the black thread just for this tutorial for you to see it clearly).
Did you find this tutorial helpful? If so, save this pin (see below) on your sewing board so you can come to this tutorial later when you are ready to sew an invisible stitch, and follow me on Pinterest for more tips, tutorials, and inspiration!
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