Welcome to another stitch tutorial: the whipstitch! This one will be a bit different since it’s not exactly an embroidery stitch (though you can use it for embroidery), but more a hand-sewing stitch. It’s quite easy and so incredibly useful. Definitely a great stitch to learn for many uses.
I’ll show you first how to do it on a plain piece of fabric, without joining anything together so you can better see how it’s done.
I prefer to avoid knots when doing this stitch, since it’s usually used to join fabric together and securing it with anchoring stitches is more secure than a knot. You can see this post for how to start stitches without a knot.
1. For practice, I definitely recommend drawing two parallel guidelines of the width you’d like your stitches to be. Mine is about 0.5 cm wide. I also prefer to work this stitch horizontally from right to left, but that might be different if you’re left or right-handed.
2. Bring your needle up from the back at point A. Guide your working thread to lay at an angle towards the direction you’re working (to the left, in this case). Bring your needle down at point B (the distance between A and B will be how long your stitch is), and back up again in C in the same motion. C should be parallel with A.
3. Continue in this way for the remainder of the line, making sure that your stitches are even and equally spaced out. You can add more guidelines to your fabric to help you with this if you need! The stitches will lay at an angle naturally as you keep the needle straight while going through the fabric.
Where Can You Use the Whipstitch?
As I mentioned earlier, the whipstitch is more often used as a hand-sewing stitch. Back before sergers came along, it was often used to overcast raw fabric edges by hand. I’ve done it on velvet and it works incredibly well! A bit time consuming compared to using a serger, but it’s actually a really neat and efficient way to finish an edge. The whipstitch is also used to join fabrics together, often along fold lines or when using felt. It’s widely used in appliqué and English paper piecing as well (two crafts I’ve become enamoured with this year haha!). It’s not invisible like the slipstitch though, so it can double as a decorative stitch too!
Below are a few different examples of the whipstitch in practice. I really love this stitch and find myself using it pretty often :).
Joining Felt and Creating a Border:
Last week, I shared a scissor case I made out of felt, where I used the whipstitch both to sew my pieces together and create a nice border. I used embroidery floss instead of sewing thread and it worked really well.
Joining pieces together for EPP:
Here I used the whipstitch to join two hexagons together in EPP style (English Paper Piecing). The hexagons are fabric-covered cardstock, but I only sew through the fabric. A full tutorial on how to make a hexie flower using this method is available here.
Finishing the back of an embroidery hoop:
A bit similar to EPP, here I’m using the whipstitch to join a fabric-covered backing to the back of an embroidery hoop. The fabric from the backing is whipstitched to the hoop allowance of the main embroidery project. I also shared a tutorial on how to finish your hoop like this in this post.
To appliqué a piece of lace:
The whisptitch is super useful for appliqué, especially since in this case the edge of the lace is further covered with stem stitch in yellow thread. But in order to secure the lace to the fabric, I first ran a whipstitch all around. I kept my stitches small and close to the edge so they would be as invisible as possible. For a closer look at this project, you can have a look at my Wisteria Embroidery Inspired by Literature post.
As you can see, the whipstitch is a super useful stitch to know and can be used in so many projects. It’s also a great alternative to the slipstitch for closing openings. I find it much faster to work, but it’s not as invisible, which is why it’s nice when it serves a decorative purpose as well.
I hope this whipstitch tutorial was helpful, and don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions. Happy stitching!
P.S. – Have a stitch you’d like to learn, or questions about hand embroidery in general? I’d love to help! You can send me an email at email@example.com or message me on Instagram!