5 Tips to Improve Your Hand Sewing

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Hand sewing might not be every sailor’s go-to sewing method, but from time to time it makes a lot of sense. For example, if you need to repair heavy or large items, it can be difficult to bring them to your sewing machine. Or, for high-stress applications, you might need to use a heavy twine rather than a thread, leaving hand sewing as your only option. For these, and all the other times you find yourself sewing by hand, we’re sharing five helpful tips to make hand sewing a little bit easier.

The best hand needles for sailors are forged from cast steel and feature reduced edges, triangular points, and long eyes for easy threading. A great brand that has all of these qualities is William Smith & Sons. It can be tempting to try and save some money by using cheaper needles, but inexpensive needles will break as you try to push them through thick fabric assemblies, so buying a high-quality needle right off the bat will lead to fewer headaches and improve your hand sewing experience. It also helps to use a sailor’s palm when hand sewing. Not only does this hand thimble make it easier to push the needle through heavy fabrics, but it also helps to prevent needle breakage.

In really thick assemblies, use a standard awl to pre-punch holes in the fabric for your needle to slide through. The sharper point on the awl punctures the fabric much more easily than your needle and will save you a lot of effort. This will also help you to create uniform and evenly spaced stitches.

Knots can abrade over time and fall off causing your stitches to unravel. We recommend avoiding knots altogether. To do this, leave an inch of starting twine exposed and lay it where you will be sewing. Then, carefully sew over the tail, trapping it under your stitches.

The Speedy Stitcher is a sewing awl that makes quick and easy work of seaming repairs. This tool can sew both heavy threads and twine in canvas or leather. The Speedy Stitcher can manually create lock stitches just like a sewing machine. Best of all, they are really affordable and the convenience of having one is really worth it.

When you need to sew a seam, use a flat, waxed twine. Twine typically has a round construction, but a flat twine will lay closer to the fabric and therefore be less likely to chafe away. Flat twine is also great for sewing rings because the twine will sit closer to the ring. This makes it less likely to get cut when an eyelet is installed.

What are your best hand sewing tips? Share them with us in the comments!

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