How to Hand Sew a Running Stitch

A running stitch is used to gather fabric and to base stitch items together in preparation for machine sewing. It is called a running stitch because once you get the hang of it; you can just make the needle run through the fabric to create the stitch.

Hand Sew a Running Stitch
  1. Thread your needle and knot the double strands of fabric on the end. While you may be tempted to create a very long thread to save yourself from re-threading the fabric, it is best to make the thread no longer than your arm so you don’t end up tangling your thread.

  2. Pull the needle and thread through the back of the fabric using the knot to anchor the thread to the fabric.

  3. Insert the tip of the needle back into the thread one-quarter inch after where you pulled the thread through. Do not pull the needle through the fabric at this point, but instead push it back through the fabric and out again.

  4. Pull the needle through the fabric after making a few running stitches. Continue making running stitches in this manner. Use the stitch in this way to temporarily sew parts of a garment together for fitting before you stitch it with a sewing machine.

  5. Pull on the thread to create gathers if you are using this stitch to create a gathered skirt or gathered sleeves. As you pull on the thread, hold the fabric at the last stitch you made and gently pull the thread through your fingers. This will gather the material. When gathering fabric using the running stitch, you will want to make a knot every few inches so the gathers will stay in place.


  • Protect your fingers when sewing by hand.