Science of Sewing: Basic Stitches

Today’s post is all about the basic and common stitches you’ll need to learn to make your costumes! These stitches are found on almost every machine these days, so get ready for the 12 most useful stitches. (Note: though your machine may not have the exact stitch pattern, there is going to be something close. Check your manual for a description of the stitch to map the below to your machine’s stitches.

These are your common stitches labeled 1-12 as they appear when sewn. Scroll down to see what they often look like in a stitch diagram and what each is used for.

Stitches 1 & 2

Straight Stitch & Stretch Triple Straight Stitch

Straight Stitch: For seaming and topstitching, you absolute most common stitch.

Stretch Triple Straight Stitch: Reinforced seams and topstitching.

Stitch 3

Zig Zag Stitch

Reinforce seams, finish raw edges, stretch sewing.

Stitch 4

Satin Stitch

Applique, couching, eyelets.

Stitch 5

Elastic Stitch

Sewing elastic, darning, patching

Stitch 6

Blind Hem

Sewing blind hems on woven fabrics (top stitch pictured)

Sewing blind hems on stretch fabrics (bottom stitch pictured)

Stitch 7

Stretch Tricot

Sewing seams on stretch fabric

Stitch 8

Elastic Overcast

Seam and overcast stretch fabrics in one step

Stitch 9

Closed Overlock

Seam and overcast in one step, patch, hem

Stitch 10

Button Hole

Button hole for garments: blouses, jackets, shirts, skirts and linens.

Stitch 11


Darning or reinforcing holes or damaged fabrics

Stitch 12


Automatically reinforce seams and pockets in a decorative manner.