What’s worth hand sewing (and what’s not)?

There were some great posts by some awesome sewing bloggers last year with some brilliant tips for better hand-stitching (from Closet Case Files and Did You Make That? to name just two). But I couldn’t help but wonder (cue Carrie Bradshaw…) how do you know when you should hand-sew something and when you’d be better off using your machine?

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I’m hand-stitching the inside of the waistband on my latest pair of Thurlow trousers.

The short answer is that it is, genuinely, up to you. If you and your machine get into fights inserting zips, or you just can’t get on with your buttonhole foot, then you might want to try doing these jobs by hand (with something nice and relaxing on the TV, or a Seamwork podcast on in the background).

Generally, I’m all in favour of saving time, so if I can do something well enough on my machine, then I will. But there are some jobs I prefer to do by hand because it’s quicker for me in the long run, and those are:

  • Sewing on buttons – I’m not even going to bother finding out if my machine can do this or not when it’s so quick and secure by hand
  • Hemming woven fabrics when I don’t want the stitching to show through
  • If I’m putting a zip into a lined garment, I’ll usually insert the zip with the machine, but then secure the lining by hand along the opening – I always get puckers if I try to stitch both at once with a zip foot (Could someone please invent a walking zip foot?)
  • Tasks you only get one shot at, like attaching the leather toggle fastenings to my son’s School Days jacket – and hand-stitching them gave me more control for my first attempt

How do you feel about hand sewing? Are there things you could do on your machine but you opt to hand-stitch instead? And can you recommend a longish brand of sharps?

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