How to End a Stitch? Different Methods

How to End a Stitch? Different Methods

Finishing your sewing projects with neat, clean finishes elevates your work. But how to end a stitch? From knotting to whip stitches, bindings, hems, and more, numerous techniques exist. Understanding the options allows you to choose the best method for your fabric and project needs. Some endings have functional purposes, preventing fraying on raw edges. Others create decorative accents. Alternative endings suit unique fabric types and applications.

This guide explores it all. Follow along for tips, step-by-step instructions, and visual examples for ending hand and machine stitches. Discover which technique works best for your next sewing endeavor.

Securing Stitches by Knotting Thread

Knotting thread ends secure stitches so they do not unravel. Different knots provide varying levels of hold and finish. Consider what works best for your project. You want knots secure enough to endure wear without uncomfortably stiff knots that could scratch the skin on clothing or break threads.

Simple Knot

The simple knot offers a quick way to finish threads. Passing the needle through a loop twice before gently pulling it tight secures the stitching. This easy technique works for most applications. But knots may come undone if subjected to frequent tugging or friction.

Double Knot

For more durability, tie knots twice by making a simple knot and then passing the needle through the loop again. Pull gently to avoid breaking the thread. The double knot supplies added strength to endure regular wear and washing. It works well for clothing, home décor items, and children’s crafts that need extra reinforcement.

Surgeon’s Knot

Medical professionals rely on the surgeon’s knot for suture durability. It incorporates an extra wrap around the needle before passing through the loop to create a compact, flat knot. This finish resists slipping loose even when tugged. Use it on garments, crafts, or any project requiring exceptional strength. Just take care not to pull too tight when finishing and break the thread.

Weaver’s Knot

Start this knot by making a loop with the thread end. Pass the needle through this loop, wrap the working thread around the needle, then gently pull on the needle to tighten everything into a secure knot. It lies flat, resembling the surgeon’s knot but without an extra pass through the loop. The weaver’s knot works well for finishing woven items without adding bulk.

Securing Stitches by Knotting Thread

Ending Stitches with Basic Stitches

Whip and blanket stitches supply simple yet polished finishes. Work slowly, making even-sized stitches in straight lines for best results. Keep stitches tiny, only catching a thread or two of fabric at a time to prevent obvious holes.

Whip Stitch

The whip stitch creates a near invisible edge with small, diagonal stitches catching the fabric. Sew evenly along the raw edges of your project. For added strength, overlap the edges slightly while whip stitching. This popular finishing method protects fray prone fabrics like linens, prevents stretching along bias grain edges, and conceals stitches on the right side of your work for invisible mending or hems.

Blanket Stitch

Slightly larger than whip stitches, blanket stitches form decorative loops along fabric edges. The whip and blanket stitches end up nearly identical on reverse sides. But blanket’s exposed top loops embellish outward edges. Use this finish to accent napkins, blankets, clothing edges, appliqués, or anywhere you want to highlight the stitches. Work carefully so loops appear uniform in size and evenly spaced.

Prevent Unraveling with Overcast and Zigzag Stitches

Protect fabric shreds from fraying and add shape with overcast and zigzag stitch endings. Best for preventing loose threads on raw edges, especially for knit fabrics, both techniques neatly contain fraying.

Overcast Stitch

Making small diagonal stitches over the fabric edge creates a tidy finish that prevents loose threads without adding bulk. Overcast by hand or select a machine overcast stitch foot accessory to finish fabric ends straight from the sewing machine efficiently. This works well when hemming woven lightweight fabrics and keeps edges flexible for easing curves and corners on projects like neck openings.

Zigzag Stitch

For woven fabrics, set your machine to a wide zigzag stitch to neatly finish raw edges. The angled stitching catches stray threads in the points as you sew. Let the fabric edge ride along the inside swing of the zigzag for best coverage. Try widths between 2 to 4mm and lengthen to suit fabric weights. Too wide risks sewing over the fabric edge, so adjust settings down if needed. Use zigzag endings on general garment construction instead of overcast stitching for added strength.

Binding Techniques for Decorative Finishing

Binding Techniques for Decorative Finishing

Binding neatly encases fabric ends in another fabric or trim. Not only decorating and streamlining uneven or curved edges, it also contains loose threads to control fraying.

Bias Binding

Cutting slim fabric strips on the bias grain, at a 45° diagonal to the selvedge edge, creates flexible binding tape that curves around corners. Fold and press the bias strips to encase raw edges. Hand sewing or using a machine blind stitch neatly hides binding stitches for an invisible finish. Purchase prepackaged bias binding or make DIY. Try cotton blends, faux leather, lace, satin, and more for an upscale look.

Fusible Bias Binding

Fusible bias binding offers the quickest finishing solution. One side features a heat-activated adhesive. Simply lay it over the raw fabric edge, fold over the binding, and apply a hot iron to bond it permanently in place without stitches. The adhesive may initially feel stiff, but regains flexibility after washing. Purchase various color options to complement projects.

Ribbon Binding

Decorative ribbons, lace, cording, and trims freshen plain fabric edges. Cut widths skinnier than the fabric hem to showcase unique accents like stripes. Sew bindings by hand or machine. Or utilize fabric glue for narrow trims secured without stitches. This quick treatment beautifies clothing edges, accent pillows, placemats, baby blankets, and endless craft projects in kids’ rooms or DIY home decor.

Creating Closings with Casings

Casings neatly draw in fabric ends and conceal raw edges in a tidy finish. The folded channel allows threading drawstrings or elastic bands through to cinch fabrics. Use casings when making durable outdoor accessories, masks, hats, bags, sweatpants, or any items needing adjustable closures.

Sew a Casing

Start by pressing under the edge twice to hide any frayed fabric in the folds. Determine casing depth based on what threads through it, including the hem allowance. Stitch channels permanently in place close to the inner folded edge, leaving the outer side open for threading drawstrings or elastic. Measure and cut ties several inches longer than the casing circumference to allow knotting off at the desired fit.

Make Buttonholes

Work buttonholes into one side of casings to create closable openings. Measure and mark evenly spaced placements before using a buttonhole sewing machine foot to stitch openings. Cut buttonholes to suit the band or tie widths. Sew corresponding buttons onto the opposite casing edge to align and close. This adjustable solution offers convenience for changing out cord colors or replacing damaged elastic on masks, headbands, jackets, and more.

Achieving Invisible Finishes

Some endings completely hide raw edges within folded seams for a clean finish. Take care aligning folded edges so no stray threads appear on the outside.

French Seam

Enclosing raw edges within double-stitched seams makes durable, imperceptible finishes, ideal for delicate fabrics prone to fraying. First, sew wrong sides together approximately 1⁄4” in from edges. Trim seam allowance close to stitching. Then unfold, press flat, fold right sides together to fully encase the cut edge, and sew a second seam 1⁄4” in from the first. Practical for sheers, silks, satins, linen clothing, and anywhere you want hidden endings.

Hong Kong Finish

Also referred to as a bound seam, the Hong Kong technique provides structure while sealing loose threads. Start by grading or trimming uneven seam allowances. Apply bias tape over cut edges, securing the bottom crease about an eighth inch down from the raw edge. Fold binding under top crease and stitch into place, similar to French seam construction. The encased edge finishes neatly while maintaining flexibility for curved areas like arm holes or collars.

Unique Stitches for Specialty Fabrics

Sometimes stretchy, decorative stitches better suit certain fabrics. Explore these creative endings for custom handmade flair and functionality.

Crochet or Knitted Edging

Work yarn trims using basic crochet stitches like single, half double, or double crochet. Or knit garter, ribbed, or stockinette stitch borders. Crocheting and knitting allows creating straight or scalloped finishing edges on fabric like dish towels, scarves, sweater necklines, baby accessories, and women’s lace overlays. The stretchy ornamental trims become part of the piece, not just decoration tacked on edges.

Elastic Thread Stitches

Elastic thread, also called elastic cord, adds flex to seams while preventing fraying. Made of twist rubber filaments wrapped with cotton or polyester thread, it permanently stretches up to three times its length without deforming. Use elastic thread in the bobbin and regular thread on top. Adjust tension slightly tighter than normal. Straight stitch or zigzag along fabric edges while gently stretching for shirring. The elastic edge makes something secured yet stretchy. Great for smocking blouses, frilly skirts, fabric jewelry, table linens, and creative upcycling projects.

Fray Check Liquid Seam Sealant

Fray check seam sealant offers a no-sew ending option for raw edges. Brush two or more thin coats over fabric ends. It soaks in to bind fibers together as it dries flexible yet tacky. The clear treatment dries transparent for discreet finishing on ribbons, craft trims, embroidery floss ends, and delicate heirloom repairs prone to shredding. Stand synthetic fabrics upright while drying to avoid runs. Fray check goes on white but dries crystal clear. For extra security, stitch fabric ends before applying.

Alternative Non-Sew Endings

Alternative Non-Sew Endings

Finishing stitches traditionally involves needles and thread. But some fabrics and applications allow for non-sewn endings. Consider when these options work best.

Leave Edges Unfinished

Knit fabrics resist fraying and unraveling thanks to lengthwise and crosswise loops interlinking threads, so raw edges may not require ending stitches. Layering folded edges inside helps neaten them. Handmade fashions, crucially stretchable activewear, toys, and accessories look great casually finished. Taking care not to pull and distort shapes while working, simply end seaming where edges meet without overlap. The material naturally curls under for tidy hems after washing.

Heat Seal Synthetic Fabrics

Fabrics like vinyl, faux leather, metallic lamés, outdoor gear fabrics, ribbons, and some knits can fuse when heated instead of sewing. Set irons, wood burning tools, or specialty fabric sealers to the appropriate synthetic material heat level. Then press along trimmed edges to melt and seal ends. The plasticized texture will bond permanently when cooled. Be extremely careful handling hot tools to avoid injuries or burns. Do not attempt heat-sealing natural fabrics; it will catch fire! Test scraps first and work in well-ventilated rooms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the easiest way to end a stitch when hand sewing?

For basic hand sewing, knotting thread ends offers the quickest finishing technique. Tie knots tightly right against fabric, but not so harshly as to break the thread. Using extra wraps when tying surgeon’s knots or double knots ensures added security.

How should I finish embroidery floss when cross stitching?

Do not tie knots right up against the fabric backside when cross stitching. This risks indentations showing through to the front embroidery side. Instead, weave tails under existing threads before snipping ends to hide knots inside stitches. Some embroiderers knot loosely an inch or more away, trim ends, then tuck tied knots within the backside stitching out of sight.

What machine stitch works best for finishing seam allowances?

Zigzag stands as the most versatile machine stitch for ending seams. Its angled movements catch and contain frayed edges neatly to prevent further unraveling when washed. Play with width and length settings until the points just barely sew off the fabric edge to secure threads while maintaining flexibility.

How do I make bindings for finishing quilts?

Quilted bindings require straight, bias-cut fabric strips to neatly finish around corners and edges of the layered quilting. Join strips end-to-end until reaching the quilt perimeter length. Sew onto the front piece with precise 1⁄4” seam allowances, then fold over and hand stitch on backside, mitering corners. Prepackaged double-fold quilt binding simplifies the process.

What thread should I use when finishing stitches?

Matching thread color to fabrics makes nearly invisible finishes. Heavier weight threads endure washing and wearing better than standard sewing thread. Options like quilting, topstitching, buttonhole twist, and hand embroidery threads resist breaking or pulling loose. Synthetic blends prove more durable than 100% cotton.

How should I end stitches on leather or vinyl projects?

Leather and vinyl edges can simply be left as-is or smoothed with graters, nail files, and sanding sponges. No need to prevent fraying on these fabrics. Avoid punching holes for stitching that could tear over time. Adhere trims or bindings with contact cement or epoxy glue instead of sewing. Or try neatly heat sealing vinyl edges.


Whether making clothing, crafts, or everyday household items, properly finishing your sewing ensures durability and longevity. No good comes from shortcuts leaving loose threads and unfinished edges to unravel over time. Mastering the techniques for knotting threads, hemming, binding edges, adding closures, and more elevates the quality and appearance of DIY projects.

Exploring alternative methods for hemming a dress without sewing can open up new possibilities for your sewing endeavors; consider factors such as fabric types, workpiece locations, desired aesthetics, and functionality to guide you in choosing appropriate endings for your projects.

Soon these stitches will become second nature. Before you know it, perfectly ended seams, neat knots, and tidy threads will be your norm! So grab those materials and begin practicing. The more methods under your belt, the more versatile a sewist you will become. Happy handcrafting!

Vincent Gross
No Comments

Post A Comment