Straight Stitch Vs Running Stitch

The running stitch and straight stitches are common sewing and embroidery techniques. They are basic stitches that everyone who sews must know. Whether you are mending holes in a garment or embroidering one of the best pieces you ever made, you can use either of these two stitches or both.

These stitches have significant differences and are also quite similar. The differences help to distinguish between the two. They also help to know when and where to use each of the stitches.

Difference Between Straight Stitch And Running Stitch

The straight stitch and the running stitch are similar. Some seamstresses even classify the running stitch as a straight stitch. This is because it is among several other stitches that can be sewn into straight stitches. 

However, there are some subtle differences between the two stitches.

1. How To Make The Stitches 

A straight stitch moves from one point to another in a straight line. To make a straight stitch, bring your needle to the top of the fabric from the bottom. Then go back down on the next step a small distance from the point you came up from. Making a straight stitch.

The running stitch is a slight variation of the straight stitch. To make a running stitch, start by bringing the needle and thread up from the wrong side of the fabric. Instead of going back down as in the straight stitch, make a stitch to the right or left, then take your needle down.

When working with the running stitch, you can make several stitches in a particular direction before taking your needle back down.

For both stitches, you can vary the length of the stitch you make once the needle is at the top. If you have similar length stitches, it may be difficult to differentiate between them. This is one of the reasons why the running stitch is classified as a straight stitch.

2. Hand Embroidery

The straight stitch is commonly used in hand embroidery. Due to the simple up and down movements of the stitch you can use it to make different types of embroidery patterns. 

As you make the stitches by moving the needle up then down the fabric, you can take it in any direction. This makes it easy to follow a pattern and come up with a sewn design. With the straight stitch, you can move in different directions to deliver an embroidery pattern on a piece of fabric.

A running stitch only moves straight in a single direction. As a result, you can’t use this stitch to make embroidery on its own. 

If you want to use the running stitch in embroidery, it will have to be a base stitch. Make your running stitch in the direction required by the pattern. The running stitch can only move in a single direction. Then, make an additional stitch around the running stitch to make your pattern. For example, if you are making a flower pattern on a fabric, you can use the running stitch to make the stem of the flower. You will then use the straight stitch to make the flower petals since they can move around easily. 

3. Sewing With A Sewing Machine

Another difference between the straight and running stitch is whether the stitches can be made with a sewing machine. 

The straight stitch is versatile. It is a prominent hand sewing technique while also being the standard machine sewing stitch. On the sewing machine, it is a firm stitch that you can use on any aspect of sewing. As we have seen, you can also easily make it by hand. 

On a sewing machine, the straight stitch is a strong stitch made up of a top and bottom stitch that meet to form the stitch. This is the basis of its strength. 

You can make the stitches longer or shorter as you sew. Shorter stitches are stronger than longer stitches. You can also change your needle position when working with a straight stitch on the sewing machine. This allows you to sew on any part of the fabric you want. This is because, with a change in position, you can move the guide to sew on the part of the fabric you desire.

A machine-sewn straight stitch is stronger and more accurate than a hand-sewn straight stitch.

The running stitch is a predominantly hand sewing technique. The straight stitch would be the option if you want to make the running stitch on a sewing machine. 

Similarities Of The Straight Stitch And Running Stitch

1. Securing The Stitches

As long as you are hand sewing either the straight or running stitch, you can secure the stitches on your fabric in the same way.

The most common method to secure these two stitches is tying a knot. When you thread the needle, tie a knot at the end of the thread. When you make your first stitch, pull the needle up from the bottom of the fabric until the knot touches the fabric. Then continue making either the running or straight stitch. With the knot at the fabric, your stitches are properly secured and are unlikely to unravel when sewing.  

Another method that you can use to secure the two stitches is to sew the thread at the starting point at least three times. This makes a secure starting point when using either of these two stitches to sew. You can also use this method to secure the end of the straight line sew with these stitches.

Similarly, you can secure the ends of your sewing by tying a knot at the bottom of the fabric when you finish sewing.

2. Basting Stitches 

Both the running stitch and the straight stitch can be used as basting stitches. Basting stitches are loose stitches used to hold the fabric in place as it is being sewn. 

On a sewing machine, the straight stitch when applied in long lengths is used as a basting stitch. It is not as strong as when it is used in shorter lengths. The long straight stitch can easily be pulled out of fabric as a basting stitch.

Similarly, the running stitch is the best and easiest to sew hand sewing basting stitch. It is strong enough to hold two pieces of fabric together, yet loose enough to be pulled out of the fabric easily.

3. Strength Of The Stitches Is Determined By Length

For both the straight stitch and the running stitch, the shorter the stitch the stronger it is. When you use either of these two stitches, the shorter the stitch the stronger your sewing is held together.

This is why basting stitches are longer than the stitches you would use to mend a hole or hand embroidery. 

4. Gathering Fabrics

If you want to gather fabrics, you can use either of these two stitches. Make two lines of stitches on your fabric while leaving tails on each side. Pull on the tails left to gather the fabric. 

On a sewing machine, the most common stitch used to gather fabrics is the straight stitch. Sew a tight straight stitch on the fabric. This will cause your fabric to gather tightly. 

How To Do A Backstitch By Hand?

Using a sewing machine to make stitches is easy. You only have to select the stitch you want from a list and your sewing machine will make it.

To make a backstitch by hand is easy if you have hand sewing skills. For a beginner, you will need some time to practice for it to get easy. 

First, thread your needle with sufficient thread. Then, tie a knot at the end of the thread to secure your stitches when you start sewing.

Bring your needle and thread up from the wrong side of the fabric until the knot touches the fabric. Then, go back down. 

To bring your needle back up, do it slightly behind the point from which you started your stitch. With your needle on the right side of the fabric, now go back down at the point you ended your first stitch. Repeat to the end of the fabric.

The backstitch is a firm stitch both on the sewing machine and when sewn by hand.

Is The Zigzag Stitch Stronger Than The Straight Stitch On A Sewing Machine?

The straight stitch is the most commonly used stitch on a sewing machine. A close second is the zigzag stitch. Each of these stitches has its own advantages. Different seamstresses prefer either for their sewing projects.

Many seamstresses choose to use the zigzag stitch over the straight stitch because it stretches on the fabric. It is also quite strong and durable on any project it is used in.

On the other hand, the straight stitch is also a strong sewing stitch. However, it can’t stretch on the fabric or be used to reinforce buttonholes as the zigzag stitch does. It is preferred for its efficiency which allows it to use less thread when sewing. It is friendly to beginners as it is easy to sew with.



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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