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Straight Hemstitch

This stitch typically is stitched in the space where one horizontal fabric thread has been removed. Cut the fabric thread about 4” ahead of where you want to stop and reweave the end back into the fabric. Your hemstitch is often done around an entire piece so be sure you do all sides. You start with a waste or away knot. Please be sure to have at least 3” of thread to weave back in when you are done.

Working from the right to the left, you begin at 1 and go over two fabric threads. Bring your needle out at “2” (two fabric threads to the left) and back down where the first stitch ended. Going under the fabric on a diagonal, come up two fabric threads to the left of the first stitch, “3” and gently pull to bring all the threads together. Continue this three step process all the way around. When you reach the end, take your needle to the back and run under several of the previous stitches, do a back stitch and continue to go under a few more of the previous stitches. Make sure that your thread is secured well before trimming the end.

Turning a corner is just as easy as shown on this diagram.

You will probably have to start a new thread several times as you stitch around a piece. Here is a simple way to stop one thread and start a new one.

As you near the end of your thread, stop with at least 4” left. You want to stop at Point A. Bring your needle up through the fabric like you were going to make another stitch, but instead take your needle about 3” towards the center of your piece and make a little backstitch to hold it gently in place. Thread your needle with the new thread. You want to start at least 1.5” back from where you stopped stitching. On the back side, run your needle under several of the hemstitches, then do a backstitch through a couple of hemstitches and then continue to the left. Come out at point B and start stitching as before. Once you have stitched another couple of inches, you can go back and gently release the old thread from where you backstitched it out of the way. Rethread your needle and take your thread through the fabric at point C, which completes that stitch. Keeping your needle on the back of your fabric, thread the needle to the left underneath the stitches with the new thread. After going under a few stitches, do a back stitch and then continue under a few more stitches to the left. Cut the end of the thread.

That’s the basic stitch….now comes some fun. I truly think your hemstitch is only limited by your imagination. You can use elements from other pulled and drawn thread projects, including needleweaving! Some of the simplest designs are simply created by how you bunch your threads together. For the next two designs, you want to remove four horizontal fabric threads. Be sure to weave the threads into the fabric at the edges. It worked best for me to do one fabric thread at a time, including the weaving. I found that your edges look nicer if you always reweave the ends either above or below the fabric thread. Otherwise you might have two rewoven threads in the same space and it got a little bulky.

We will be working with pairs of threads, so first you need to do the straight hemstitching along the bottom and top edges of the open area you created.

When you finish both edges, you will have created a series of bars.

You can leave these bars as is, or weave a ribbon through them for a basic hemstitched edge.

For more Hemstitching variations, visit the Hemstitching articles.

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