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Hand Stitching

Okay, we’ve got to talk……

There’s no hiding it anymore………….or at least trying to.


I have ridiculously short and stubby thumbs. No more cropping my thumbs out of the pictures or trying to bend them out of the way, avoiding the camera lens. They are lovely in their own little way.


And just for the record, no they did not get cut off, get stuck in a door, or trimmed down to use the skin and bone to graft to other parts of my body. (Yes, all those things are questions I’ve had since childhood….) Hahaha!


Ridiculous that I’m even wasting space talking about my thumbs. But, now I can feel better. ((wink))


And I know there are more of you out there. (Who have realized, just like I have, that they will never be a hand model!!) Come on, embrace those little stubs.


Whew, onto the tutorial for today. (And a LOT of thumb pictures!!) :)


I have had several questions about hand stitching, shortcuts, etc.


I figured I would share this with you all.


When I was a little girl, my mom taught me how to knot thread. I don’t know if other people do it this way or not, but I find it to be the quickest way to put a knot in the very end.


Wrap the end of the thread around your moistened (yes this helps) forefinger one time. See how the thread lays across your finger 2 times? (The rest of the thread is draped across my middle finger and is hanging down behind my hand. You just can’t see it.)


Now, you’ll roll those 2 parts of the thread together by sliding your thumb across your forefinger. This should twist the thread around itself about 4 or 5 times. If not, try again.


Then slide this twisted part between your thumb fingernail and your forefinger and pull the other end with your other hand.


Keep pulling…..


Until it knots itself.


Okay, try it a few times and you will see that this is a true time saver. Thanks mom! And whoever really discovered this technique.


Then, take your first stitch on the inside of your project, to hide the knot.


Do you know how to do a quick whip stitch? (I think that’s what this is called. If not, tell me.)


This is such a quick, I’m-not-concerned-if-it’s-noticeable, type of stitch. I use it on some of my own stuff or to mend something of the kids’ real quickly. Just take a little bit of each side of the fabric that you are trying to close, with the needle, and pull your needle through. Then take another bit of your fabrics a little ways up and push your needle through and pull the thread through. Repeat until your fabrics are closed together. Always move up the same amount each time so that your finished stitching looks uniform.


How to tie a quick and secure end-knot? Another quick technique from my mom.


Loop your needle through your fabric right at the spot where you’d like to end your stitch. Try to grab some fabric and some of the thread that is already in place. Pull the thread all the way through, except for a little loop.


Then bring your needle under and through the loop.


Pull the thread through, except for another little loop. (Which is below the first one.) Now you have 2 loops.


Then, put your needle through this second loop from underneath and pull slowly.


Keep pulling slowly until your looped thread pulls tightly down to the fabric and creates a nice little knot.


Always do this twice.
At least that’s what my momma always told me!! It just secures it extra well.


Then stick your needle back into your fabric and exit an inch or so away.


Pull your needle and thread out and pull all the way through so you can’t see anymore loose thread by your knot. Then snip off this end, really close to the fabric, and the string will disappear. That will help hide that little loose end and then you don’t have to cut it too close to the knot.


What do I use to nicely finish a project…….or items that I sell?
Well, this hidden stitch or blind stitch…….whatever it’s called or whatever you like to call it.


And, Rose sent a great link HERE to another tutorial that explains it well. Then I don’t have to. :) (Thanks Rose!)


I start this hidden stitch the same way and finish it the same way, except I am really careful about making the knot towards the inside of the seam. (The stitching on the left.)

(See? It just disappears. So nice.)


Anyway, I hope that helps some who wonder, “what in the world is she talking about…” when I say to just whip it closed with a hand stitch.


And now you know my funky thumb secret too. ( I know my sisters and childhood friends are laughing……)


Enjoy your day!

Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
Hand stitching
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  3. chia says:

    Hello.. I’m from Indonesia.. i’m beginner on sewing. but, I love ur blogs so much.. so many tips and picture too hehee.. I can learning to many kind of sewing.. Thank a lot.. ^^

  4. katharine says:

    Lovely looking site, I’ll be having a good read through it.

    Ditto on the thumbs! I only found out recently that it was a ‘thing’, and not just my weird thumbs. Mine are even stumpier than yours! The right more than the left and it curves back more at the joint.

    It’s also called a “club thumb”, or technically brachydactyly type D (BDD). Just do a Google search find out more!

  5. Amber H. says:

    Hi Ashley! Just thought I’d tell you that I was looking at your necktie project and noticed that you, too, might have “hammer” thumbs. After stalking your blogs I finally found this one- we are thumb sisters! I have only met one other person with our thumbs. They are truly unique and your hands are pretty just the way they are! Someone once referred to them as “princess” thumbs, which made my day. So you can tell people you have princess thumbs from now on :)

  6. Ev Roth says:

    I read a lot of websites to see if I can explain things better to the children I teach in my sewing classes. I was trying to teach them this method to tie a knot and they were having a hard time. Then I realized that after I rolled the twisted thread off of my thumb with my forfinger, that I switched to my middle finger to slide it down to a knot (not my forefinger). And looking at your photos, I notice that you are also using your middle finger to finish making the knot even though in the text you say you are using your forefinger.

  7. Nicole Montgrain says:

    Great tips! I enjoyed reading all of the comments on here as well. Very Helpful.

  8. Lindsay says:

    Thank you! these were amazing tips!

  9. Stacia says:

    I was just checking the blind stitch page to get some pointers and after reading the beginning of the post….I have THOSE thumbs too! I have only met one person that has both thumbs same as mine, and it happens to be my dentist. HA!
    I used to be a little bummed I didn’t have piano fingers, but whatever!
    Yay! Someone else with squished thumbs! <3

  10. Katie | The Hill Country Cook says:

    I’m making your belly bands for my pregnant friend! Came here to learn how to sew the opening closed! Your thumb thing has a name, did you know Megan Fox has thumbs like that too? So does my best friend’s sister, and she can’t bowl either!! I have finger toes and it’s embarrassing so it’s all good in the hood. :) Love your site!

  11. Mary says:

    My grandma would say to you what she said to me. “You have worker”s hands.” And she said it to me with such pride, because we are the doers, and makers, and creators of the world. I take great pride in my worker’s hands.

  12. Brenda Rhodes says:

    Girl, I just read how to tie a knot. I am 53 yrs old and sew for my grand kids, daughter and myself. I have always tied my knots like this, but I could never have explained it like you did. You did a great job of telling how to knot your thread! It was easy to understand and I am sure you helped many new seamstresses to learn the same way our mothers taught us. Way to go! I love your sewing ides that you have on here! See, you can teach an old dog new tricks! Or an old sewer! Haha Thank you for this site.

  13. cucicucicoo says:

    my mother taught me a whole different way to tie a knot, but this way’s so easy after a few tries! thanks for sharing! :) lisa

  14. Morgan says:

    Thank you for creating such a clear tutorial!

  15. Kim says:

    I’m going to add myself to the list as another person with “umbs” (shortened thumbs :) ), aka brachydactyly type d. Mine are even shorter and stubbier than yours, though. Makes it tough to go bowling, not being able to fit the thumb hole or reach far enough to go with a bigger ball! Or stretch more than an octave while playing the piano… Anyway, glad you put photos up of your thumbs with your wonderful blog and it’s nice to see all the commenters who have the same thing!

  16. tonya says:

    Thank you this project is great. I also have thumbs like your and people always say they look like big toes…

  17. Maricela says:

    wow…didn’t realize how many people have the same thumbs as me :)

  18. Edie says:

    my mom taught me the same thing for making the knot and knotting off at the end!!

    by the way you thumbs are cute (took me a few minutes to figure out what you were talking about hehe)

  19. Charli says:

    I just wanted you to know that we have the same thumbs :) Also I love your work!

  20. danielle says:

    just read you post my mom never to how sew so i am learning from blogs like this one be proud of those because my frends mom had to have her toe cut off

  21. Angela Shymanski, says:

    Huzzah for toe thumbs!!! We should start a support group. Happy to know I'm not the only one!!! After years of making up stories about how I was born without thumbs, so focus took my parents baby toes and put em on my hands. Ha

  22. Hyphen Interiors says:

    Yay!! Thanks for posting this. It may seem simple, but a newbie like me finds it very valuable. I didn't know how to make the start and finish hidden. Thank you!!

  23. Bethany says:

    I have little thumbs too! :)

    I just discovered your blog and I love it! I'm getting a sewing machine for Christmas and I can't wait to start!

  24. JenniferKaryn says:

    Thank you for showing pictures of your thumbs. Oddly enough I think mine look EXACTLY like yours and I get weird questions about my thumbs a lot!!

  25. Hello! says:

    thanks for the tutorial! can you believe i was sewing my seams shut?! Ugh…

  26. Tracy says:

    We all have somethig to be self-conscious about, but swear I totally never woulda noticed the thumbs, had it not been forementioned. Makes for all this comraderary amongst yall special stubbythummers and I just feel left out!
    We're supposed to be lookin at the thread anyway, folks.
    Your tips are so awesome, Ashley! You have given me courage to try this sewing thing.
    Basic Hand-sewing is all I knew until now, I just got a machine.
    Hey maybe 30 yrs of graphic art might help too. Way back in my day (pre-PC) we had to do layout and Hand-draw with an actual pen! with ink and stuff, at a table, on Ill.board…weird huh, now just my mouse…
    but wait, maybe sewing is art I can pick up (with my boring old regular thumbs) and hold again! Yay!
    Thank you so very much!
    P.S. please let me know where is the "undo" command, I will need it.

  27. Cissy says:

    Your thumbs are nothing to be embarrassed about. Megan Fox has the same kind of thumbs and look how beautiful she is. Hasn't held her back any. BTW…loooooove your site.


  28. RosieB says:

    another here who was taught the same way of knotting thread, but by my teacher in infant school, I still use a lot of the things she taught us
    and I've never even noticed anything different about your thumbs! :)

  29. Amy says:

    Oh my goodness! I love your blog even more now because we have the same stubby thumbs!!!
    My husband calls them "gecko thumbs" and before we started dating he said they'd be good for massages, lol.
    Way to come out with it! I still have a habit of tucking mine into my fists, so people can't see them.

  30. ranestorm says:

    that's exactly how my mom taught me to tie a knot in thread and to end my stitches! :) it's so cool to see someone else who was taught the same way by their mom.

  31. Three Men and a Lady says:

    I meant some people get all the luck…not “so” people get all the luck. Maybe if I had your thumbs I’d be able to type a bit more accurately too???

  32. Three Men and a Lady says:

    I knew it! I knew there had to be some secret I didn’t know about as to how you could possibly be so talented… it’s the thumbs. Maybe if I had super thumbs too I’d pick up a needle and thread and not just the glue gun. But my rotton luck, I have perfectly normal, boring thumbs. So people get all the luck….

  33. Mrs. Amanda Farr says:

    My husband has one thumb that looks identical to yours =) the other one is just “normal” but I like his little thumb, I think its cute!

  34. Martins says:

    HAHAHA!! i love it. Totally know how you feel about your thumbs. I have just one short and stuby one…the other is normal. I dont know which is worse having two or just one. :)

  35. Rose says:

    You’re hilarious! There is nothing wrong with your thumbs, and rest easy, I was so intently focused on the thread knot that I wasn’t really looking at your hands. Thanks for the shout out! Glad ou found a use for the link, I love that tutorial, I didn’t know how to do that before. Ahhhh, blogland, how I love you.

  36. Shermanators says:

    I just found your site and LOVE it! thanks for all the great project ideas…so excited to give some of them a try! BTW…my mom taught me the same tricks that your mom did. :) Thanks for so much inspiration!

  37. Camille says:

    AT least your thumbs match. My sister only has one of the stubby thumbs, and the other is normal. She’s always teasing about “thumbing” for only half a ride! And we recently discovered that my little brother has them, too. He’s VERY proud of them, though! And so should you be, as talented as they are! (I know I’m a stranger. I hope that doesn’t weird you out that I’m commenting. I love your stuff, though!)

  38. jodi says:

    I never knew!! Honestly, I’ve never noticed, before. How crazy is that? See, the things that bug us the most about ourselves, most people never even notice…

  39. Brockett's says:

    You have a very smart Momma!! Thanks for sharing.

  40. Jason and Monica says:

    Thank you for posting this, I am a beginner and I have tried several of your ideas! Knowing these different stitching techniques will be helpful!

  41. Care says:

    My sister happened to be visiting when I read this entry, and I couldn’t stop laughing. I made her read it. She has the very same thumbs as you! She of course has a great attitude about it like you, despite all the weird comments she gets (and all the teasing from her big sister!).

    She was very happy to know she is not alone in her stubthumbdom!

  42. Ruth Ann says:

    Great tutorial, thanks for sharing! I would rather have short stubby fingers than super long fingers like mine! My fingers are soo skinny, long, and double jointed they’re as big as a man’s hands!

  43. Melissa says:

    I love your stubby thumbs Ash! It is unique about you! Love ya! Thanks for the sewing tips! i will be using those soon since i am now a sewer!

  44. kate the great says:

    Don’t feel bad, I have ‘man hands’. Seriously, they are huge-as big as my brothers and I’m only 5’6″ and they’re all over 6′. Once I got my nails done and my hands totally looked like a drag queen. Oh well. All the better to craft with, right? I love all your ideas! Thanks so much!

  45. says:

    Aww, I like your thumbs, they make amazing things! Hand sewing is one of my favorite things to do, it’s so relaxing. These tips are great, I’ll be linking.

  46. Ashley says:

    Melissa…….OH MY WORD!! I have NEVER heard them called that. But that’s exactly what they are. HAHAHA!!! :o) It’s like when we were little eggs and our cells were dividing, the information got mixed up and the cells were told to go form a toe where the thumb should have gone.

    Hilarious!! Maybe we should start a support group. :)

  47. Melissa says:

    Holy Crap we have the same thumbs!! Not too many people that have toe thumbs! Love your blog!

  48. Ashley says:

    Ooooh Lacey, that sounds like it was an awful painful day. Ouch!

    Touch of country, darn it. Hope the pictures helped a bit.

    Rachel, hahaha about my thumbs. Thanks.

  49. Rachel H. says:

    your thumbs rock! And so do your tutorials… :) Thanks again for yet another awesome post!

  50. A Touch of Country says:

    Thanks for a great tutorial. I never did figure out the rubbing your fingers together thing when my mom showed me! Oh well!

    Love your ideas as always!

  51. Lacey and Zach says:

    I have been checking your blog very often because I am a stay at home mother who has the drive to learn how to do new things. I love your ideas!! THey are brilliant! I am not a sewer by any means, but your posts have helped me learn so much! THank you! As for your thumbs, be proud of those babies! I lost my right thumb in a potatoe harvest accident and talk about an ugly thing now! Ha Ha Ha! Thanks again! I am looking forward to your next great idea!!

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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