What Is a Blanket Stitch? (How To Blanket Stitch Tutorial)

Without the blanket stitch, a blanket would just look like another blanket. Dull, drab, and without a nice decorative touch to spice up its looks.

What is a blanket stitch? In essence, a blanket stitch is a straight stitch with one perpendicular stitch added in to help make it unique. This stitch has many uses. First, it is a decorative stitch that can be used for embroidery. Plus, it is a stitch that creates a boundary or can be used for appliques. 

To learn more about the blanket stitch, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can use this stitch properly. With its versatility, you should have plenty of sewing projects to add it to.

What is a Blanket Stitch?


The best way to answer this question is to say it is a very decorative stitch. Even when relegated to creating a boundary. When you use a contrasting color the boundary stands out and adds a touch of creativity to the overall design.

This stitch is great when you are quilting and wanting to do some appliques or just adding another element to your embroidery project. The basis for this stitch style is the straight stitch and you just add a perpendicular stitch to the pattern to create the blanket stitch.

It is an easy pattern to do by hand but many different sewing machine models offer this stitch in its built-in set of stitch patterns. Just select the right symbol and you can add the decorative touch without even trying hard.

What is a Blanket Stitch Used for?

This stitch’s original and primary use was to seal up edges of blankets. That is how it got its name. It was used as a secure stitch on blankets so it was called the blanket stitch. But it is a versatile stitch style that can be used on many different projects.

One project would be pillowcases and another would be tea towels. The stitch may be basic but it does spice up the look of these household items and make them more attractive.

Other uses include making boundaries when you are doing your embroidery and then adding appliques when you are making a quilt. Using a contrasting thread color adds that unique touch you want all your projects to have.

There may be other uses we haven’t listed here and that is okay. You can apply this stitch pattern to those projects you think will look good on. Take the stitch out for a test run and see how it will look on your work.

Does Blanket Stitch Stop Fraying?

Besides being a decorative stitch pattern, the other purpose of this stitch style is to stop fraying from taking place. That is one reason it is placed about 1/4 inch from the edge of the material.

Another duty this stitch has is to help stop the fabric from stretching. The style of the stitch helps hold the material in place and makes sure it does not grow on you as you work. In most cases, the perpendicular stitch goes over the edge of the material to make sure it does not lose any fibers.

Keeping your material the same size as you cut the fabric is important when it comes to putting those pieces together and have a good-looking outfit. Without the blanket stitch, your project may not look so good.

If you want to know a similar stitch to this one, just look at the buttonhole option. It is the same thing except the stitches are closer together.

What Thread for Blanket Stitch?


The type of thread you will use will depend on the type of fabric you are working on and the purpose the stitch has to fulfill. One key element to selecting the thread is the thicker the fabric, the thicker the thread.

Of course, that will mean a bigger needle needs to be used when you go thicker. The types of thread you can choose from include but are not limited to yarn, 6 strand embroidery floss, and pearl cotton along with many other styles.

In other words, if you do not have those three, you can use another type of thread as long as it fits the fabric and has some strength to it. When you are working on a sweater and decide to go with a felted applique, then yarn would be ideal for that step.

Or if you are working on a hem for a dainty handkerchief, using 1 or 2 strands of floss will work, along with a fine needle.

What does a Blanket Stitch Look Like

You could say that it looks a lot like a notebook binding when the notebook has had its pages and cover stitched together instead of bounding by glue. It is a straight stitch with a perpendicular stitch placed at the tail end of the former style.

This stitch could look like half a box stitch waiting for its other half to complete the look but this style goes all the way down till the end of the fabric. Or if you want, it can look like a thread’s prisoner chain gang.

You have seen those movies where the prison work crews are all joined together with a chain and the prisoner forms the perpendicular stitch to that chain. The blanket stitch has a basic look that can be decorative when used appropriately. It is a very secure way to close two fabrics together and keep them tightly bound.

How to Blanket Stitch by Hand

There is one confusing piece of information that needs to be cleared up first. Some sewers state you should start at the back to hide the knot. Others say you should start the stitch in the front.

While a third group suggests starting in between the layers to hide the knot completely. You can choose any starting point, just make sure you have the right thread for the fabric.

With your first pass, you have to hold the thread so that the short tail doesn't come unthreaded. Then you make your perpendicular stitch before coming through that stitch to make the next straight stitch. You repeat this process over and over till you reach the end of the fabric.

The needle is put through the loop you have created from left to right and you need to pull the thread straight up to tighten it. Each stitch should be started 1/4 inch to the left of the previous one.

How to Start a Blanket Stitch


This stitch pattern is all about creating knots all the way down the stitch line. To get started you need to create the first knot as an anchor for the next stitch in the line. You can single or double knot the thread, this is up to you, and start your stitch.

To start the stitch, take the needle through the fabric, then bring the thread up and over the edge of the fabric to the back of the material. Go through the same hole again and then bring the needle around so that it can be put through the loop you just created.

The direction will be left to right, then pull the thread to tighten the stitch. Move 1/4 of an inch to the left and repeat the process. You do the same procedure all the way down the fabric until you have finished the edge you are working on.

How to Finish a Blanket Stitch

This is just as simple as starting the stitch pattern. When you get to the end of the fabric, bring your thread to the back of the material through the bottom of the last stitch.

Then you create the end knot by turning the fabric over so you are seeing the wrong side. As you bring the thread through, leave a little loop as you will put your needle through this loop in one second.

After that is done, pull gently to tighten the knot. Repeat the process one more time to reinforce the first knot by creating a second one. Once you have done that, cut the thread.

In order to keep the thread depth the same, you can place some fabric tape, or a similar product, along the edge to help guide your work. The best kind of tape to use is one that has markings the same distance apart and just follow those markings.

Can Sewing Machines do Blanket Sitch?

Yes, many sewing machines can do a blanket stitch but only if the pattern is part of the built-in stitch designs that come with the machine. It may take some practice to master this stitch on a machine but the practice is always a good idea before you start working on the real thing.

If you use the blanket stitch a lot, then it would be worth your time to find a model that comes with the pattern included in its set of stitch patterns. Or find one that can easily download the stitch pattern and add it to the set already built into the machine.

If the machine doesn't have either of these options, then you won't be able to do a blanket stitch on your next sewing project using your sewing machine. You would have to do it by hand which can take some time to complete.

Blanket Stitch on a Sewing Machine


This option is good when you are reinforcing a fused edge or turning a raw edge under and creating a little hemline around your project. The key will be matching the thread and the needle to the fabric.

Some sewers say that you can use any thread type or weight and a standard needle but if the two do not match up, then you will have some sewing machine issues to fix. Also, you do not have to use matching colors, the thread can contrast the fabric and other threads you have already used in the design.

Of course, if your machine doesn't have this stitch pattern built-in, you won’t be able to use your machine to finish your project. You would have to add this stitch pattern by hand. That will add a little more time to your work schedule.

Closed Blanket Stitch

Another name for this stitch is the half-crossed blanket stitch and it involves crossing over the thread line. Instead of looking like the stitched bookbinding found on some notebooks, this stitch crosses over and forms a triangle above or below the two parallel stitch lines.

This style of stitching will take some time as you have to go through the fabric at two different points then intersect with those two stitch lines. If you have done the stitch right, the stitch pattern should look the same on both sides of the fabric.

This pattern also may look like the traditional merrow stitch pattern but not exactly the same.

Double Blanket Stitch

Another name for this stitch would be the double buttonhole stitch pattern. To create this look all you are doing is putting the blanket stitch in like normal and has been described above.

Then you are reversing the fabric and placing another blanket stitch going the opposite way. To tell if you have done these two stitch patterns correctly is if the perpendicular stitches alternate and go in the gaps of each other.

Doing this stitch pattern is as simple as it sounds. You are just creating the same pattern in two different directions and that is all there is to it. Using two different colors of thread add a decorative design that should enhance your project when you are done.

How to Blanket Stitch an Edge


The start and the finish of this stitch pattern are the most important part of the process. Get the knots right and the rest should fall into place. The difficult part will be keeping the stitch depth the same when you are working by hand.

To start you want to be about 1/4 inch from the edge and then start your knot in front, at the back, or in between the layers. Once you have created your starting knot, you will be recreating it with every stitch you make.

That knot is the anchor for the next stitch. Then staying 1/4 of an inch from the edge you continue down the edge of the material until you have reached the end. One thing, you should lengthen the stitch length when you use thicker fabrics.

Blanket Stitch on Fleece

Sewing the blanket stitch on a piece of fleece material isn't different from the process we have already described. You can cut the fringe off the fleece if you want to make a cleaner look but that will be up to you.

You want to make sure you are always 1/4 inch from the end and that your stitch spacing is always 1/4 of an inch apart from the previous stitch. Pull the thread gently when you have finished each stitch to tighten it up. You cannot go to the end then tighten each stitch up.

That has to be done on every stitch when you create it. Make sure to do secure knots at each end so that the stitches do not come loose and ruin your project. You will find that the basic way to do the blanket stitch will be the same on every fabric type you work on.

Blanket Stitch vs Whip Stitch


The biggest difference between the two is how they are made. You already know how the blanket stitch is made and we won’t repeat those details. The whip stitch is a simple pattern that is similar to the overhand stitch.

The difference between those two stitches is that the overhand is looped straight over the edge of the fabric while the whip stitch is looped diagonally. The latter stitch is a simple stitch style while the blanket stitch takes a little more work as you have to create many knots as you go. The whip stitch has no knots.

That stitch is not as decorative as the blanket option but it is easier and faster to use. The blanket stitch is more decorative and probably has a better hold on the fabric due to its complex design.

Some final words

When you want to stop fraying, the blanket stitch will do that chore with ease. At the same time, it will add a decorative touch making your project look a lot better. With its versatility, you can use this stitch on different fabrics and different sewing styles. Creating it may take time to master but it does bring a nice look to your designs.

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