5 Invisible Stitches for sewing seams and hems without a sewing machine

Learn the different methods for sewing hems and seams using stitches that seem almost invisible from the front and sometimes from the back of the fabric

invisible stitches

Invisible! Is that even possible? The way my stitches go, any person can spot it from a mile away. Even my machine stitching is weird enough to be visible from far enough. So it is indeed a challenge to think about invisible stitching of a seam or hem entirely by hand. There are some cute invisible stitches that make the impossible seem possible. 

Conditions favorable for making Invisible stitches.

The first condition for making the stitches invisible is to use matching thread. If you did not get the closest matching thread use a darker shade rather than a lighter one. Lighter colors stand out. If you want true blue invisible, lift up a thread from the fabric itself. You cannot get more matching than this.

Thread single thread on the needle, and do not tie both ends into a knot, so that you will be sewing with a single thread. If you have a strong thread, the single thread may be enough to hold the hem, though for seams, you may need double thread. Use a short fine hand sewing needle.

( In the examples given below contrasting coloured thread is used so that it is visible, not invisible )

There are ways by which you can knot the thread at the start of hand sewing so that it is not too obvious.Check out this post on making thread knots for hand sewing for more details.

The list of 5 best Invisible Stitches

1. Hemming stitch

As the name suggests it is used for hemming. This stitch makes small slanting stitches on the inside folded fabric edge catching the front fabric with small almost invisible stitches.

How to make this ‘almost’ invisible stitch

Fold the hem twice as per the width you want  for the hem edge. Take up the thread on the back near the fold as you normally do for hand stitches, securing it with double stitching.

Take a small slanting stitch on the fabric catching just 1 or 2 thread.

insert needle through the outer fabric and take on thread; take one stitch on the fold

In the same motion, come up from under the folded fabric taking the folded edge into the needle. Now pull the needle and thread up.

One thread and one stitch through the fold

Continue making slanting stitches on fabric and coming up with the folded edge. The picture below is that of the wrong side. On the front you will hardly notice the stitches – they are as I said, almost invisible.

Make several stitches joining the fabrics

2. Ladder stitch

Next on the list of invisible stitches is the ladder stitch. This is the best method for joining seams, especially to close an opening – for eg. a bag lining. You can also join fabric edges together this way

ladder stitch disappears into the seam

How to sew the ladder invisible stitch

Start stitching by securing the thread on one edge

Go to the opposite edge and take a small 1/8 inch stitch on the fold.

insert the needle through the fold on one side

Return back to the first edge and take 1/8 inch stitch on the fold there.

next insert needle through the fold on the other side

Do this repeatedly till the whole edge is covered.

make several stitches along the fold

A ladder-like stitch will be formed between the two edges. Pull the thread to tighten the stitch and close the opening effectively and invisibly. The stitches will be hidden along the seam line.

Learn more about Ladder stitches and its variations in embroidery. This stitch is very useful in mending clothes – like joining two fabric pieces together by hand – for example, a ripped seam

Another application is when you have to alter clothes – if you want to make a tuck make some ladder stitches as shown in the pictures below and you have an easy peasy tuck/dart

Mark the dart legs and make ladder stitches along the lines.

make parallek stiches along the dart

sew the parallel stitches till the top edge

Tighten the stitches to close the seam

pull it tight to make the stitches disappear

3. Slip stitch

This is a hem stitch. This is a favorite method to hem as it is almost invisible when done correctly from both the  front and the back. It is especially useful in hemming see through / transparent fabrics.

How to do this invisible stitch

After securing the thread , take up 1 or 2 thread from the front fabric.

take one small one thread stitch on the outer fabric
Bring up the needle through the fold of the fabric and then take one thread from the fabric

Bring the needle to the fold and slip the needle through the fold of the hem. Go 1/4 inch further and then come up.

Slip the needle through the fold
Slip needle through the fold about 1/8 inch

Now repeat the above steps of going through (slip) the fold etc till the whole hem is finished almost invisibly. Read more on slipstitch in sewing

4. Lock stitch

This is another hemming stitch. The specialty of this stitch is that it is a strong stitch which doesnot unravel even if the thread breaks in between. This is because of the loops made with this stitch. Another advantage of this stitch is that it has some stretch

Make loops while sewing

To make this stitch the starting procedure is almost the same as the hemming stitches but here the thread is placed under the needle and a loop is created when you pull the thread.

loop again as you continue to stitch the fold to the fabric

Make these stitches continuously. An edge is formed with the looped stitches on the back but on the front, the stitches are invisible if you have done it properly.

this creates a strong but invisible stitch

5. Pick stitch

This is a stitch you can use to sew a seam or join two fabric pieces one on top of the other with very little evidence from the front.

Basically, it is a back stitch. The difference is that only a tiny stitch will be visible on the top of the fabric – the stitch taken on the back will be longer. This is regularly used when sewing jackets to finish edges, sew the lining to the outer fabric and to sew zippers by hand. The short stitches are made 1/4 inch apart

pick stitch

You can learn how to do the pick stitch here

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

16 thoughts on “5 Invisible Stitches for sewing seams and hems without a sewing machine”

  1. I still haven’t seen how to use a sewing machine and make a invisible
    I am making a blouse and it wants you to sew the front band on the fold
    line invisibly. How is this done? Oh by the way I really don’t know how to
    sew I am just learning.

    • Hi Jen
      All the hem stitches look like the first title picture – as only one thread is taken the stitching is nearly impossible to make out from the face of the fabric. The seam stitch – pick stitch is not as invisible as you can see from the picture. The ladder stitch, of course, disappears into the seam

  2. Excellent instructions and photo display. I rate this 5 *****. More instructions on the basics of sewing 101.Thank you , for clear instructions.

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