How Do You Do A Running Stitch

Are you planning to learn sewing and you have decided to start with running stitches? Let’s help you in your learning process by outlining the details of running stitches. 

Running stitches have literally been around for thousands of years. Whenever people learn to hand sew anything, they start with the running stitches. Of course, you can use your sewing machines for running stitches as well. It is one of the most basic stitches, but that does not take away its necessity or beauty to any DIY or sewing enthusiast. 

So, if you are trying to learn stitching, start with running stitches. Given below are all the details you need to get started. 

What Is A Running Stitch In Sewing?

Running Stitch In Sewing

Running stitch is a regular hand stitch that goes in up and down motions. As it forms the basis of several embroidery stitches and hand stitches, it’s important to learn before you get to know about other advanced stitches.  

These are the kind of stitches whose gaps can be uneven or even in length based on the embroidery or seam one is creating. It is another factor that makes these stitches pretty easy for the beginners. Additionally, a great thing about running stitches is that the front and back of the project looks attractive thanks to the nicely done and evenly spaced stitching. Thus, quilters tend to prefer running stitches over others. 

A major problem with a running stitch is that it’s not too secure. When one of the stitches gets snagged, the entire line of stitches gets pulled and the fabric gets puckered up. When the knot at the end gets loose or the thread gets broken, the entire line of stitches starts unraveling. Now, this is fine is basting, but not for the hems of clothes that you will wear and launder.  

Thus, it is better to use a blind stitch (also called slip stitch or backstitch) for such purposes. If you want to make your running stitches secure, make really small stitches placed closely. As a matter of fact, this is one of the reasons why many people prefer using sewing machines for running stitches. When your sewing machine produces running stitches, they are pretty small and placed closely for greater stability. 

How To Do A Running Stitch?

The best thing about a running stitch is that it is the easiest to learn and do. Though running stitches are usually made by hand, you can use your sewing machine for this purpose as well.

You will have to thread your needle and put stitches in a straight line across the fabric. Then, put a knot at the end and you are done. After learning the basic running stitch, you can try embroidering using the same kind of stitches. It is a helpful stitching technique for basting, quilting, gathering, and embroidery. 

How To Do A Running Stitch On A Sewing Machine?

Running Stitch On A Sewing Machine

When you are trying to do running stitches using a sewing machine, you need to be mindful of the sewing machine tension and the process to follow. Let’s explain both these factors in detail.  

Tension Settings For Running Stitches 

If you fail to maintain the right tension for the lower and upper threads, even the basic running stitches will not look good. The right tension will get you the perfect stitch pattern that you’re looking for. You need to set your machine at four in most cases. Though it is the average measure, your sewing machine might have different settings. 

The stitch needs to be smaller, i.e., 1.8 mm or less, though some people prefer to have at least twelve stitches per inch. If you are not planning to change the kind of fabric you’re using, this shouldn’t be an issue. You need to consider whether you’re working on lightweight or heavyweight materials before deciding on the stitch length. 

Refer to the user manual of your sewing machine to know how to adjust the tension of the upper and lower threads. 

The five simple steps that you need to remember are as follows: 

Step 1: Threading The Machine 

Use a proper needle and thread for threading the machine. Also, ensure the ends of the bottom and top threads are pointed at the rear of your machine. 

Step 2: Change The Pressure Foot 

Change the present presser foot and use a straight stitching foot for the best results. So, the small hole in this accessory lets you have the straightest running stitches ever. 

Step 3: Get Ready For Stitching 

Put the material below your presser foot and start sewing. After everything gets in place, hit the foot pedal to start creating the seam. Though it’s optional, you can utilize the reverse setting for going backward and forward. This technique is good to go until the hem. 

Step 4: Keep Sewing Until Reaching The End 

Keep sewing until you reach the end of the fabric when the aim is to get a perfect regular stitch. Then, release your foot pedal and turn the machine off. Finally, snip off the loose threads and that’s it. 

How To Do A Running Stitch By Hand?

Running Stitch By Hand

As mentioned before, it is pretty easy to do a running stitch by hand. You simply need to follow the four steps given below to put a running stitch as you want. 

Step 1: Start By Threading Your Needle 

You can choose to thread the needle using either a single or double thread. Usually, one thread is good to go for quilting and embroidery. And use a double thread to sew seams on your fabric. 

Step 2: Get The Needle Through From Below 

Get the needle through from the wrong side of your fabric and pull it through from the top. In the final product, the knot will remain on the fabric’s underside and stay hidden from your view. 

If you’re right-handed, it is better to work your stitches from the right side to left. If you’re right-handed, it is better to work your stitches in the opposite direction, i.e., left side to right. 

Step 3: Time To Place Your First Running Stitch 

Now, from a short distance afar, place the needle back through your fabric. In case you are only practicing, it is better to go for a distance of 6 mm or ¼” for the start. Also, remember that the strength of the seams you make and the closeness of your stitches are directly proportional.  

In case you are finding it hard to sew in one straight line or aim for perfect and symmetrical stitches, get your ruler and mark dots that are 6 mm apart from each other. It is important to mention in this regard that you don’t need to leave even spaces between running stitches. As such, you can alter the lengths of stitches to create different looks.  

When you’re sewing using long stitches, remember that the long threads are able to catch on your jewelry. In fact, they will even catch easily in the washing machine. So, putting too many long stitches in a fabric might not be a good idea. 

Step 4: Keep Repeating The Process 

The thread and needle are below the fabric at this point, i.e., exactly where you began. Now, come back up from below once more and reach the position as in the third step. It will be taken as the distance for the gap. Since it is your first time, try to come back at 6 mm (¼”), as has been mentioned in the third step. 

How To Do A Running Stitch Embroidery?

Running Stitch Embroidery

Start by threading your needle and put a small knot at its end, while leaving a one-inch-long tail. Then, put the fabric right at the start of the required stitch placement.  

Now, start from your project’s underside and go upward to start the new stitch. After you’ve done this much, follow the given steps. 

Starting Steps Of  Running Stitch Embroidery 

  1. Pull your thread through and stop as the knot hits the fabric. Now, stop pulling the thread. 
  2. Next, push your needle down and make it pass through the fabric layers to pull the thread tight. 
  3. Pull your needle carefully upward in the fabric. 
  4. Keep piercing the needle alternatively through every side to carefully create even stitches every time. Then, make sure never to pull your thread tightly to prevent bunching of the fabric. However, you can do it on purpose to create ruffles. 
  5. Do not forget to mark the fabric before you stitch when you plan to make straight lines. 

The Steps To Follow After The Basic Embroidery Stitches 

After you are done placing the basic running stitches, you can try the following embroidery stitches as per your wish. 

Whipped Running Stitches 

You need to complete the base of your running stitches. Then, insert your needle through your stitches without going through the fabric. You can try doing this stitch using two colors of thread. 

Double Running Stitches 

Double running stitches are known by multiple names like Spanish stitch, square stitch, two-sided regular stitch, line stitch, and Holbein stitch. It is one of the reversible stitches. On each side of your fabric, the stitches will appear the same. 

You need to start by making one line of running stitches. Now, come back to fill up the open spaces. When you complete this, it appears similar to back stitches. You can do the filling stitches in two different colors.  

Laced Running Stitches Or Threaded Running Stitches 

The stitch starts by creating one line of running stitch. Make sure to create loose loops below your running stitches using the same or contrasting colored thread without getting the fabric pierced. 

Interlaced Running Stitches 

After you have done the basic running stitches, come back and create a similar kind of lacing from that other end. Use the same thread and needle to create circular loops right around the basic running stitches. 

How To End A Running Stitch?


So, you now know how to do a running stitch properly. However, in order to perfectly secure your stitch, you need to know how to end the stitch perfectly. Here are the steps to follow for that purpose. 

Step 1: Flip Your Fabric Over 

Start by turning your material over such that you get the wrong side to face you. All the knots you leave will be on the wrong side, rather than the right side of your fabric. On this side, you will also get to note the length of all the stitches you have made. 

Also, leave a minimum of 15 cm (6 inches) of thread on the needle such that you are able to secure the stitch while holding on to the thread’s end. 

Step 2: Making A Loop At The Back 

Next, slide your needle below your nearest stitch. Then, pull gently to create a loop. Pull until your thread comes out on the other side and creates a loop that is a minimum of 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide. 

Keep in mind that if you do not have enough thread on your needle, making a loop will be hard. Thus, you can make it easier by tying more thread at the end of that thread which your needle already holds. Now, slide that needle and pull it out. 

Step 3: Pass Your Needle Through That Loop 

After this, pass your needle through the previously created loop and pull tight to create a knot. Next, bring your needle over that loop such that the loop appears as a closed circle. Now, push your needle to go inside the loop. Then, pull to make the loop form a closed knot. 

When you pull this thread up, you would notice that there are three smaller threads right at that knot’s base. 

Step 4: Double Knot For Greater Security 

It is time to tie your thread through one more loop for double knotting your stitch. In case you are using a thick fabric or simply want the stitches to be more secure, put the needle once more through that same stitch for making another loop.  

Next, pull your needle and make it go through the loop to leave one more knot. Of course, you will not be able to see the knots from the fabric’s right side. 

Step 5: Trimming The Extra Fabric 

At the final stage, you will trim the extra thread. Get your scissors and make sure to cut really close to that knot you made just now. It is okay when a bit of thread comes out from that stitch as this part of your fabric isn’t visible. Now, turn the fabric over and appreciate the fine stitches you created. 

It is okay when you trim a bit too close to that knot. The knot will not get loose over time if you have pulled that knot tight enough. 

What Is A Running Stitch Used For?

What Is A Running Stitch Used For

A running stitch is one of the most basic stitches but the best part about it is that it’s remarkably versatile. In fact, it is one of the first stitches that a person learns, and they keep going back to it time and again. Given below are the common uses of running stitches: 


A running stitch is easy and fast when you are trying to hand stitch seams. This factor makes the beginners rely more on running stitches. When you’re sewing seams using running stitches, you can use a regular thread. A thicker thread is helpful for heavy fabrics or stronger seams. 


People resort to basting to hold the fabric pieces together temporarily before they start the final stitching. At times, it feels easier to stitch the pieces together after you have put a running stitch first.  

It lets you gain the most control over the sewing pattern and fit together even difficult pieces. For instance, you can resort to running stitches for setting the sleeves of tops and dresses. 


In case of hand embroidery, running stitches are used mainly for decorative reasons and to create intricate sewing patterns and outlines, leaves, flower stems, and so on. 

Similar to basting, contrast color threads are chosen for the overall decorative embroidery. However, you need to use the same color for the seams to create an invisible effect. 


Running stitches are commonly seen in quilting. It helps to sew together the layers of batting and fabric. Generally, embroidery floss is used to do running stitches for quilting. 

Hand gathering:  

People generally use their sewing machines for gathering but hand gathering comes in handy at times. Fabrics or heavy canvas are hard to gather using a machine. Thus, a running stitch is a good idea in such cases. Additionally, the fabrics that are extremely fine are better to be hand gathered. 

Tips to Do Running Stitch

1. Cotton is the most recommended type of fabric when practicing running stitches. Beginners find it easier to handle and control since it’s less stretchy.

2. A medium-length needle usually works for running stitch.

3. Clip or pin to hold two pieces of fabric together.

4. Use a marking tool or pencil to draw lines. The marking tool you will be using should allow these lines to fade or erase quickly.

5. The spaces between each stitch must be of similar size.

6. The stitch length varies depending on your purpose for using it. Although in general, the thread becomes more apparent on the fabric’s right side. Emergency seam fix can have an approximate 1/8 inches long and the basting stitch with 1/4-3/8 inches.

7. Try alternating the lengths of your stitches. For instance, you can try varying space lines and even stitches through lines of asymmetrical stitches.

What Are The Types Of Running Stitch?

Forget those boring lines. Be adventurous with these different variations and see where your creativity brings you!

1. Double Running Stitch

Double Running Stitch

It is an ideal stitch if you want to work on long lines. A double running stitch is somewhat a practical and decorative hand stitch. It is also known as Assisi stitch and Holbein stitch in some regions. Moreover, it works on curved and straight lines. It also provides the same form of stitches both at the back and on the front.

Another advantage of using a double running stitch is the less use of thread. Doing it is just simple. Just follow the pattern line and stitch in a single direction. Go around and return once again as you reach the end. Fill out those missing stitches. Then, you’re done!

2. Whipped Running Stitch

For a more twisted effect, the whipped running stitch can feed up your interest. Also called laced or cordonnet stitch. You can even use it for fillings! It makes use of a distinct or similar thread. Here, the needle doesn’t go into the ground material in the least.

When making this stitch variation, you can start by marking the shape or line. Outline using the basic running stitch. A dull tapestry needle is usually suitable when whipping as it makes it easier to insert the thread in and out of the stitches. Create several designs – the pretty little snowflakes are among the popular.

3. Seed Stitch

It may not look effortless, but seed stitch is straightforward. It is another popular form of running stitch perfect for new sewers. Considered a great filler stitch for hand embroidery projects as it adds excellent texture to the overall design.

It consists of tiny stitches of equivalent length placed randomly on the fabric. There is no specified outline on how you should do seed stitches. It’s up to you. So, making mistakes is unlikely to happen.

Begin with a single stitch, then proceed with a double stitch. Both are just the same thing and should not confuse you. The only difference we see is the two corresponding stitches in all positions.

4. Threaded Running Stitch

It is also called laced stitches. It comprises a pool of stitches categorized by a foundation stitch along with a second thread. Stitch two rows of running stitch to start. Lace one direction with a different or the same thread. You can also try the double-threaded running stitch. Mostly ideal for adornments and patterns for curved or straight lines.

Use it as a background fill as well with any lines, such as diagonal. Again, circle it with a complementary or similar thread. You may want to shift the thread weights to create distinctive textures and a finished look.

5. Interlaced Running Stitch

How about getting that ‘chain’ and lacy look? It is done by interlacing the second thread with the foundation stitches without going into the ground material. Examples of interlaced running stitch are Pekinese stitch, Maltese cross stitch, laced herringbone, and sham hemstitch.

It makes a great decorative border that involves basic run stitches. And similar to most types, you can also use similar or different colored threads. The width must parallel, plus the spaces are squarely away from each other.

Prevent piercing the foundation of your running stitch with a quality tapestry needle. Its perfect proportion signifies a balance of dark and light hues.

When Should I Use a Running Stitch?

The uses of a running stitch are as varied as most hand stitches. Create hand sewing seams or basting. You can also use it for sewing sheets of fabrics and batting together (quilting). It makes a decorative stitch, too, from the simple flower stem to the intricate whirling outlines. And if you find heavy fabrics challenging to gather by machine, a running stitch is a great alternative.

Wrapping up 

As you have realized by now, a running stitch is pretty simple and can be truly pretty. So, use the process and tips you learned today and try your hand at this type of stitching right away.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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