Learn how to whip stitch for sewing, knitting, and crochet. Whip stitch is a popular method of hand stitching seams that are attractive and durable. You will often find it in sewing patterns that use felt, and it is great for hand-appliqued designs. This tutorial will discuss what is a whip stitch and then show you how to sew a whip stitch for seams and applique.
Whip Stitch Tutorial
What is Whip Stitch?
Whip stitch is an easy stitch used in sewing, knitting, and crocheting, which is used to sew 2 pieces together. The stitch forms a loop that passes over the edges of 2 pieces of fabric, joining them together. It can also be used in applique as a decorative stitch or sewing leather garments. The technique for using whip stitch for sewing or knitting/crotchet is exactly the same.
Whip Stitch in Sewing
Whipstitch is a hand-sewing technique used to join fabric together or applique and to create a durable bound seam. Many felt sewing patterns and toy patterns, in particular, use whip stitch to sew pieces together as it doesn't add much bulk and protects the edges from pulling. Because the stitches wrap around the edge of the fabric, it is less likely to fray or come apart.
Crochet Whip Stitch
Whip stitch is often used in knitting and crochet to join pieces together, for example, sewing the sides of a jumper or the shoulder seams. When sewn neatly, the whip stitches disappear into the knitted or crochet stitches, making a durable and very neat seam. Whip stitch is commonly used to sew amigurumi toy pieces together and is great for stitching granny squares into a larger blanket.
Supplies For Sewing Whip Stitch
You will need the following:
- Thread - For felt or applique fabric, use embroidery floss with an appropriate number of strands. For knitting or crocheting, use matching yarn. It is up to you whether you use a contrasting color or matching thread. If joining fabric to create a seam, then the matching all purpose thread will give an almost invisible finish.
- Hand sewing needle - tapestry needle if using embroidery thread or sharps if using regular thread.
- Small sharp scissors
Thicker threads can be hard to thread through the eye of a needle, so read my article on how to use a needle threader. If you struggle with threading needles, you will be amazed at how easy this is.
Most of the time, you will thread the needle with a single strand of embroidery floss, but if you are using regular sewing thread, then it would be better to thread the needle double for extra durability.
How to Whip Stitch, Step by Step Instructions
The direction of whip stitching: In this how to sew whip stitch tutorial, I am stitching from right to left. You may find you are more comfortable with the opposite direction, so just give it a try and see what feels the most natural to you.
The photos below show two pieces of felt being sewn together, but the technique is the same for crochet or knitted pieces.
Step 1 - Secure and Hide the Knot
Start by knotting the end of your thread and bringing the needle through the middle of the 2 layers and up to the top. This will hide the knot in your finished project.
I have used a contrast thread for this tutorial, but if you wish to have invisible whip stitches then use matching colored thread and make your stitches as small as possible.
Step 2 - Starter Stitch
Bring the needle directly down and then push it up through both layers of fabric from the bottom to the top. The needle should exit at the same hole where you started. This is will give you your first stitch and secure the end of your row of stitching.
See how your stitch has gone through the same exit hole.
Step 3 - First Whip Stitch
Once again bring the needle through the same hole at the bottom but this time bring it up at a diagonal next to your first stitch.
How far you bring it across will depend on how small you want the stitches to be. Stitch length should be matching the scale of your project. Small items need small stitches and larger items can have larger stitches. Do a little experiment and see what you like the look of.
Here the needle has exited on your diagonal stitch
Step 4 - Continuing Stitches
Next, bring the needle up from the bottom in line right underneath your last stitch. (This is directly underneath the stitch at no angle.) Angle the needle so the thread comes up next to the last stitch at the same diagonal distance as the previous step.
Try and keep the distance between the stitches nice and even. If you are looking for perfect stitches, you could mark some dots along the edge for even stitching. Keep repeating this stitching method until you get to the end.
Step 5 - Knotting Off
You should now have a row of whip stitch and it is time to finish. Bring the needle up into the middle of the two fabrics so you can hide the knot.
Separate your layers and knot the thread off on the inside.
Step 6 - Open the Seam
Gently open your fabric up and there you have a strong seam hand-sewn with a whip stitch.
What are you planning on using your whip stitch for? Please share below if you have any extra tips.
How to Whip Stitch for Applique
Whip stitch can also be used to applique fabric or felt. The technique is almost identical to using whip stitch for joining.
Step 1 - Secure and Hide the Knot
You can hide the knot between the applique and the fabric or come up from underneath the fabric. From underneath take your first stitch to the top of the applique a short distance from the edge.
Step 2 - Stitch at a Diagonal
Take the needle in a diagonal direction to the edge of the applique and put the needle down to the underneath of the fabric. It is up to your personal preference how much of an angle you sew the stitches. You may even like to sew them almost straight.
Repeat. Don't overthink it - just go over and over the edge at a consistent angle.
Whip Stitch Projects
Now you know how to whip stitch, try it on my free felt pincushion pattern. I used whip stitch to sew the pincushion seams and to applique the hearts and the sewing machine Because this was a small sewing project I used regular sewing thread which was threaded double.
Alternatives to Whip Stitch
If you are looking for an alternative to this simple stitch, there are plenty to choose from
- Back stitch, while it can be used for applique, is more commonly used for joining. It is one of the strongest hand stitches and can be used for sewing, crocheting, and knitting.
- Running stitch is the easiest hand stitch and can be used for joining or applique. It is best for absolute beginners and is not as strong as the backstitch or blanket stitch.
- Blanket stitch can be used for joining pieces or applique and adds an attractive border to the edge.
Whip Stitch vs Blanket Stitch
If you look at the photo below, you will notice that the biggest difference is that the blanket stitch has a thread along the border. The whip stitch just has small horizontal stitches. For larger stitches, I prefer blanket stitch over whip stitch, as it is easier to get neat and even. Whipstitch is better where you need smaller stitches.
More Hand Stitching
- 6 Basic Hand Stitches
- How to Sew a Seam by Hand
- How to do Blanket Stitch
- Ladder Stitch for an Invisible Closure
- Hand Sewing Needle
- Knot the end of the thread and bring the needle between the 2 layers to the top.
- Push the needle through both layers from the bottom to the top. Exit at the same hole you started.
- Bring the needle through the same hole at the bottom but this time bring it up at a diagonal next to your first stitch.
- Bring the needle up from the bottom in line right underneath your last stitch. (This is directly underneath the stitch at no angle.)