Monday, July 11, 2011

How to Start a Line of Hand Sewing: Hiding the Knot

When I hand sew with kids, we start by sewing (and stuffing) felt shapes. These basic silhouettes become whatever a child imagines them to be; pillows for dolls, stuffies to hug, toys for the family pet, decorations for the bedroom… So many options!

If thoughts of sewing with your child excite you, you have come to the right place. You may be wondering, How exactly do I teach my child to sew? and I have an answer. The method I teach here is exactly what I do in my own sewing classes.  

Does this remind you of a pre-school sewing card, or is it just me?

Hide the knot.

To starting a line of stitching begin by hiding the knot that you tied in the end of your thread.

We've already learned a fun way to make a knot

You need a knot to keep thread from pulling all the way through the fabric. But knots are unsightly, especially the big chunky ones that beginners often make. Let's learn how to hide them now! 

I'm going to go with the thought that your youngster has never sewn, and although you may know how to do it effortlessly, he needs some help. He needs the process broken down into bite-sized chunks.

I'm going to break it into 6 tiny bites for you.

1) Begin with a freshly threaded needle, with the two ends of thread knotted together, and two sides or matching pieces to a pre-cut, felt shape, or stuffie, that you want to sew together.

Notice that in the pictures there are dots on the stuffie. These show a beginner where to make each stitch until he has learned stitch spacing. Read about how I prepare sewing projects for beginners.

2) The next step is to line up the two pieces of felt and pin them together. 

3) Poke your needle through the top, single piece of fabric from the wrong side to the right side. Like this...


4) Pull on the needle-and-thread until the knot touches the fabric.  Like so…   

Make a knot 'sandwich'.

5) Next, make a 'knot sandwich’ by lining up the two pieces of fabric again, and sandwiching the knot in between them.  

Your child can manipulate the knot with his finger or the tip of the needle to poke it in between the 2 pieces of fabric and out of the way. He'll need to do this to 1) keep it from showing and 2) because the next stitch is going to be in the same hole. The knot needs to be tucked out of the way.

6) Whip the needle around to the back of the 2 pieces of fabric and poke it up through the exact same spot a second time. This time poke through both pieces of fabric, back to front. Like so... 

Pull the thread all the way through; snug, but not so tight that it cinches tightly.

When the second stitch is pulled through, the thread will make what's called a whip stitch.

With the method of hand sewing I use, you will be able to see the whip stitches but not the knot. It is tucked away out of sight inside the 'sandwich'.


Happy stitching!


  1. I just sort of muddle my way through any type of sewing project I attempt. Might have to come back here time and time again for some tips and lessons. :) Have a great day. Tammy

  2. lol I've been known to muddle through my fair share of projects too. I call it creative license :-)

  3. I love the whipstitch so much that I have a bad habit of using even when it's not warranted! :D Examples include binding a quilt, closing anything stuffed, and connecting two pieces of fabric-right sides together. XD

    1. Great examples for whipstitch use, Fortune Cookie. Keep stitchin' :-)

  4. I am super excited to find your blog. It is exactly what I need to help my grandson. I only wish he lived closer so I could REALLY be there to help him. He is coming in a couple months and I have promised to help him get started sewing. It is totally his idea so things should go well with your wonderful help!

    1. Thanks, Tonilea! I'm glad you found me! If it was his idea to begin sewing, then things should go very well. He will be keen to learn. I'll help any way I can. This IS exciting!

    2. well, when I wrote this my plan was to help him sew. About a week before I saw him, he fell on the playground at school and broke his elbow. It has been kind of a difficult time due to some nerve damage and now FINALLY 4 months later I am planning to see him in a few days. I have promised him a sewing lesson so we will see how it goes. He is still eager to learn, but I am not sure how his hand is doing. His mama (my daughter) says she thinks he will be able to, but it is kind of iffy. I'll let you know what happens. We will start with a fish and if all goes well, we may try a bird.

    3. So sorry to hear about your grandson's elbow. If I can give any encouragement it would be to tell you that when I wrote this blog post I had paralysis in my dominant hand and was sewing with my left hand. I'm sure that if he is interested in sewing, your grandson will find a way. Good luck!


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