Before we even pull out our needles and thread, let's talk a little bit about the purpose and structure of a blanket stitch.
Blanket stitches are often used to finish an edge. The stitch creates an interlocked thread that runs on the edge of the fabric.
Think of a serger sewing machine. Sergers overcast a seam's edge, preventing the seam from fraying, and giving the finished product a neater look.
When using a blanket stitch on the edge of fabric, you help prevent the fabric from fraying and stretching.
The sibling of the blanket stitch is the button hole stitch. They are both made in the same manner, but button hole stitches are placed very close together to stop a button hole from fraying and to give additional strength to the hole.
As an added bonus, blanket stitches are also beautiful, and besides protecting the edge of the fabric, the stitch can also be used to embellish a project, to applique one piece of fabric to another, or to actually sew two pieces together creating a seam.
The first step in blanket stitching, is to decide what type of thread to use. The type of thread depends on the fabric you will be blanket stitching and the purpose of the stitch. Blanket stitching can be done with yarn, 6 strand embroidery floss, pearl cotton, and many other threads. Basically, the thicker and heavier the fabric you are using, the thicker the thread and the larger the needle you will be using to blanket stitch. Makes sense, right? So, if you wish to sew a needle felted applique to a sweater, you might use yarn. Whereas, if you are turning under a hem on a fine linen handkerchief, you might use 1 or 2 strands of floss and a fine needle. When you are done, there should be a harmony between the fabric and your blanket stitches.
The next step is to decide how big to make your blanket stitches. Here again, the weight of the fabric you are working on plays an important role in stitch size. Rule of thumb, the thicker your fabric, the larger the stitches.
Think of a blanket stitch as a 3 sided square. 2 perpendicular stitches make up the sides of the square. The interlocking thread that rests on the edge of the fabric makes up the top of the square, and the bottom of the square is left open. (These can also be rectangles, and when working on curves, the sides won't be perpendicular, but for starters, I found it easiest to try to make squares along a straight edge.)
Given this idea of squares, the heavier the fabric, the larger the squares. When sewing a blanket stitch on the edge of a bag with yarn, your perpendicular stitches might be 1/4", and the stitches would then be placed 1/4" apart.
Whereas, if you are sewing together the sleeves of a small doll, you would use 1 or 2 strands of floss and your stitches may be 1/16" with the stitches placed 1/16" apart.
As you get experienced with blanket stitching, you will begin to develop a "feel" for the size of your stitches and thread. Once you get started stitching, the most important thing is to be consistent. Later, we will talk about ways to help develop consistency.
Next time... Getting Started. We will learn how to start our thread. BTW... I found this to be the MOST confusing thing when I first started blanket stitching. I had to rethink this each and every time I got started :) We will also start blanket stitching along a straight line. So, next time... have your floss and felt handy :)
Part 2 - Blanket Stitching a Straight Line - can be found HERE
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