Over the last year and half I have lost 70lbs and I’ve been building a new wardrobe now that I’m within a few pounds of my goal weight. It’s slow going since I don’t have much time to work on it and also because I’m terrified of sewing my first corset. So, I’ve been working on base underthings like chemises and drawers, and trying to incorporate as much hand sewing as my patience will allow for. Today I’ve been sewing on a waistband using a simple whipstitch and I thought I’d share a tutorial, since there are so few hand-stitching tutorials available online.

A note about materials: I really do recommend using linen, cotton, or silk thread for hand-stitching. However, I’m poor and using what I’ve got available, namely cotton thread with a polyester core. It works well enough, doesn’t tangle too badly, and can take a beating. Unless you’re working on an historical reproduction or heirloom piece,  it isn’t necessary to be too picky.

On to the tutorial!

So, I’m sewing a waistband onto drawers, which are made of just a natural broadcloth. I’m using a single thread. To insure everything is secure, you want to sew 16 to 18 stitches per inch.


Excuse my dingy fingers. I just got finished washing and hanging a load of laundry.

Insert needle through the first layer – be it a waistband, cuff, collar or just the first layer of material. Broadcloth is wonderful for hand-sewing as you can visibly see how much of the weave on the fabric you’re picking up. I try to pick up as little material as possible to keep the stitch unobtrusive.


Next, insert needle into the second layer of fabric – in this case the drawers themselves. I try to only pick up two or three threads of the second layer to keep the stitch on the opposite side as unobtrusive as possible as well. The stitch is still perfectly strong, so long as you keep to the 16 to 18 stitches per inch criteria. I prefer a slant to my stitch and, thus, when inserting the needle into the second layer, pick up fabric slightly to the right of where the needle is on the first layer. This creates a left-leaning stitch.


Then, simply pull the thread through until taut.


Geez Louise! Your fingers never look worse than when you’re taking close-ups of them.

Ta da! If you’ve not done a lot of sewing by hand, I know it seems tedious at first. Well, it is – at first. But, like with anything, the more you practice, the faster you become. Don’t fuss too much over how straight your stitches are at first, either. That will come with time. And, if all else fails, use the sewing machine. No need to stress yourself out.