What is a blanket stitch? The blanket stitch is a very simple yet very versatile stitch to learn. It is used mostly in embroidery projects and it can be used for both decoration and for functional purposes.
Although it is mostly used on the edges of items such as tea towels and blankets, you can also use the stitch on materials such as wool and felt. People learn how to sew a blanket stitch to join together two pieces of materials and as a way to make an item look a little fancier and more decorative. There are indeed a lot of uses for a blanket stitch!
What Is a Blanket Stitch?
Blanket stitches might sound confusing, but once you sew them just a few times, they’re a piece of cake. The best part about learning how to sew a blanket stitch is that you don’t have to be an advanced or experienced sewer to do them properly. Even before you finish your first project, you can become proficient at a blanket stitch.
When you’re sewing toys or even home decor items made out of felt or similar materials, the blanket stitch is good for joining edges together. Think about the last time you received a homemade felt Christmas stocking. Chances are good that it was sewn together using the blanket stitch. If you’re using applique fabric, a blanket stitch can be used to prevent fraying and give the edge an elegant look.
Learning How to Sew a Blanket Stitch: How Easy Is it?
Now that we’ve answered the question, what is a blanket stitch, and we’ve learned how many ways it can be used, let’s get into more detail about how to complete a blanket stitch successfully.
Below are some easy steps to learning how to sew a blanket stitch.
Step 1: Preparing Your Needle and Thread
Blanket stitches can be made with a regular thread and needle or with needles and thread used for embroidery. If you want a thicker look or you’re doing decorative stitches, it’s best to use embroidery needle and thread instead of regular sewing materials.
You’ll notice that embroidery thread comes in six different strands. Most people use two strands at a time for most projects, but of course, that number varies with each individual. It is completely up to you how many strands you use. You might have to practice a few times to see which number looks best to you.
When you start your blanket stitch, the very first stitch will be a little different than the rest of them. Why? Because you have to create an anchor for that first stitch. Start by knotting the end of your thread with either a single or double knot, which will depend on the look you wish to get in the end.
Then, bring your needle up through the middle of these two layers and all the way to the top. When you do this, the knot will look neat because it is now hidden between these two layers of fabric. Once you’re done with this, go ahead and cut the thread off close to where the knot is and push the end that’s loose to the inside of the fabric, making sure it is hidden completely
Step 2: Your Beginning Stitch
Aim the needle downward to your bottom layer of fabric. Put it through the exact hole that the thread came through in the first place. Tug on it gently, but always stop before the thread is pulled all the way through. The result will be a loop that is formed but is very loose.
Pull your needle through the loop again, then you can pull it tight. Once this step is complete, your starting stitch has been formed.
Step 3: Your First Blanket Stitch
At this point, the needle is put through the layers of fabric, starting from the top and going down just slightly away from the very first stitch. Take a look at where the needle ends up coming out at the bottom, then wrap your thread underneath your needle. This is a bit confusing, but it’s easier if you keep a few things in mind. These include:
- Every time, make sure the thread wraps around and underneath the tip of your needle
- Remember, you always sew with your needle pointing to the actual edge of the fabric
Once you get to this point, you can tug on the stitch a little tighter than before to complete the stitch. In some ways, the blanket stitch looks like a square with only three sides instead of four. The “bottom” of the square will be facing the bottom part of the fabric, not the top or edge of the fabric. The “top” of the square is at the edge of the fabric.
Step 4: Continuing the Blanket Stitch Pattern
Many people find that working in the same direction on all of their projects – for instance, from left to right – allows them to learn to be more consistent over time with their stitches. You can choose to go from left to right or from right to left; it’s up to you. But doing it the same way every time helps make the most out of your time spent working on the project.
Now back to the project. At this point, continue with the pattern until you get to the very end of the project. Remember, the needle goes down and then goes from top to bottom. The thread will always be caught underneath.
More Than the Basic Blanket Stitches
There are, of course, special situations that require knowledge of more than just the basics of the blanket stitch. After you’ve answered the question, what is a blanket stitch, and you’ve learned what the stitch can be used for, this isn’t where your learning stops. There are certain out-of-the-ordinary situations that require a few more skills, although they are easy once you get used to the basic blanket stitch rules.
Let’s take a look at a few of them.
The one thing you have to remember when stitching corners with the blanket stitch is that it works best if you plan ahead so that you know exactly how to space your stitches because they are a little different than the basic stitch. First, place your needle in the bottom of your very last stitch, but pull the needle out diagonally at a 45-degree angle into the actual corner of the fabric.
Next, put the needle into that same stitch at the bottom, and pull your thread at a 90-degree angle. At this point, you’ll notice that you have three stitches found at the corner and going into the exact same hole. This is what it’s supposed to look like, and it has a decorative touch to it.
At this point, you can continue sewing your blanket stitch as you normally would.
Applique edges are enhanced when you use the blanket stitch. Blanket stitches help prevent any fraying that sometimes occurs and gives the applique more beauty. If your fabric is too thin or frays easily, you might want to consider using some interfacing in between the fabric for a little extra body. Double-sided interfacing is especially helpful because it can help hold the fabric in place as you work on it.
To stitch appliques using the blanket stitch, keep in mind that the process is very similar to using this stitch to sew two pieces of fabric together. You’ll still start by hiding the knot of the thread in between the two layers of fabric and inserting the needle underneath the top layer of fabric to the top.
Then, after bringing your needle to the top in between the two fabric layers, tug gently until you see a loop. Next, place the needle through the loop, making sure you pull toward the edge of the applique when you’re done.
At this point, this will be your first stitch – the one that actually anchors your stitching. You’ll notice that the thread is being pulled to the outside of your applique. Make sure you don’t pull it in the direction of the inside of your applique. Next, you’re ready to sew the blanket stitch as you normally would.
If you want to use the blanket stitch for a hem, you’ve made a great choice because this stitch lends a lot of beauty and ambiance to your hems. It is especially popular when hemming a blanket.
To get started, iron the hem or fold it, either single or double. If the fabric you’re using doesn’t fray easily (such as polar fleece), a single fold will do. Otherwise, you’ll want to fold it over twice.
Turn the fabric on the wrong side and insert the needle through the hem in a downward fashion until you get to the fold at the bottom. At this point, your thread is supposed to be under the tip of your needle. Once you’re sure it’s right, pull the needle all the way through and repeat until the end of your project.
3 essential Tips for Making the Perfect Blanket Stitch
The blanket stitch is an easy stitch, but that doesn’t mean that a beginner can’t use a few tips to make the process a little easier. Just like any other stitch, the blanket stitch requires practice. There are a handful of tips you can use to make the process faster and simpler on your part while you’re perfecting this useful stitch:
- To make sure your stitches are nice and even and spaced properly, you can always use a ruler and mark the stitch lengths. Start by placing the stitches one-fourth or one-half of an inch apart. Some people even put lines on their fingers and then hold their finger next to the stitching to make sure they match up with one another.
- When sewing a blanket stitch, don’t assume you always have to use black or dark-brown thread. You can use the same color thread as the fabric or even a contrasting color. Play around with the colors and see what type of combinations you come up with that look good.
- When sewing a blanket stitch with a sewing machine, make sure you pivot on the fullest side – that is, the outer side – of the curves. If you’re using the blanket stitch around a circle, you’ll want to pivot with your needle in the background (not foreground) fabric. With inward curves, try to pivot while the needle is on the applique shape, or the outermost part of your curve.
Indeed, when you’re using a blanket stitch on your sewing machine, play around with them before using them on a project. Your machine may have more than one blanket stitch, so you’ll want to become familiar with them to choose the one that is best for a particular project. Many sewing machines have blanket stitches in several different sizes, so you have several of them to choose from.
Now that you know the answer to the question, what is a blanket stitch, and you’ve learned how to sew a blanket stitch for various projects, all that’s left is for you to practice the stitch so you can become better at it. Just keep in mind that you always have to have an anchor stitch as your first stitch, that the end of the thread (with the knot in it) will always be hidden between the two layers of fabric, and that you’ll be working toward the edge of the fabric and “looping through” each previous stitch.
Even during the Dark Ages, the blanket stitch was used as an acceptable stitch for many different projects. Whether you’re trying to sew two pieces of fabric together, sew a cute shape onto a bigger piece of fabric, or sew something attractive to the hem of an item, the blanket stitch works great. It’s an even and very neat-looking stitch, but it offers much more than that. The blanket stitch is also a very functional, fun, and practical stitch to use with a ton of projects.