Blanket stitch is a fantastic edge stitch for sewing around felt and fabric. It is widely used in hand stitching and very popular but also the stitch that most newbies seem to get confused with as well.
Learn how to do blanket stitch applique by hand with this very detailed, in depth photo tutorial. I take you through everything including how to stop, start, join on with a new thread and work around a corner.
Every single question you may have about sewing blanket stitch (and using it to applique around small shapes of felt and fabric on top of larger pieces) is answered right in here. I’ve also organized this page well for you so you can just jump right through to the info you need.
How to Blanket Stitch Applique by Hand: Step by Step Photo Tutorial
Applique is the process of sewing smaller shapes of fabric onto a larger piece of fabric. With felt applique, you would normally sew smaller pieces of fabric or felt on top of a larger felt piece.
Blanket stitch is a beautiful stitch for sewing applique pieces into place. It is an edge stitch that looks good when worked around all types of shapes whether they have straight edges, curves or corners. Learn how to work blanket stitch by hand with this in-depth guide.
Table of Contents
- Starting Blanket Stitch Applique
- How to Carry on Sewing Blanket Stitch
- Working Blanket Stitch Neatly Around a Corner
- How to End Blanket Stitch Well
- Joining and Starting a New Thread in Blanket Stitch
- Joining Right Back to the Beginning
- How to Blanket Stitch Around a Circle or Curve
How to Start Blanket Stitch Applique
Step 1: Pin the Applique Shape on to the Felt
Although you can applique all kinds of fabric, I recommend starting out by practicing with felt first. This is because felt does not fray, it is inexpensive to practice with and it is easy to hand sew too. A wool blend felt is usually a great choice.
For practicing this applique method, make things easy by cutting a simple square or rectangle of felt in one color and pinning it on top of a larger piece of a different color. The different colors make it easier for you to distinguish between the top and bottom pieces of material.
These dots can really help to guide you with needle placement while you learn. Some sewers still use this method to sew absolutely perfectly spaced stitches.
I admit that I prefer to just work freestyle, otherwise I may as well be sewing with a machine. The beauty of hand sewing is that stitches, even neat ones, are not perfectly uniform but each fabulously unique.
Step 2: Pull the Thread Through the Bottom Layer Only
Thread a sharp embroidery needle with either embroidery floss or sewing thread. Two strands of embroidery floss doubled over will give you a much thicker stitch which will be easier for you to see as you work.
Knot the thread and choose a starting point for sewing. I like to work on the right-hand side and stitch downwards. For practising with this tutorial, it will make more sense to follow exactly what I’m doing. When you’re comfortable sewing blanket stitch applique without referring to instructions, you can develop your own method of working.
The needle tip must first come up right against the edge of the top felt piece. If you’ve marked dots as guides, it needs to be in line with one of the dots.
Note that the needle should only pierce the bottom layer of felt and not the top one. Carefully pull all the thread through until you can feel the knot at the back preventing any more thread from coming up.
Once you’ve pulled the thread up (refer to A in the photo above) you need to move the needle tip about 5mm away from the thread to the left, refer to B in the photo. You may have already marked that position with a dot back in step 1.
Step 3: Push the Needle Through Both Layers and Make a Loop
Now push the needle through both the layers of felt and gradually pull it out at the back of your work.
Instead of pulling the thread all the way through, as you’d often do with hand stitching, leave a small loop at the front.
You can see a loop of the threads in the photo above.
Step 4: Bring the Needle Back Up Near the Starting Position
Push the tip of the needle through from the back of the felt, right next to where you came through initially with A back in step 2.
The needle should only be coming through the bottom layer of felt and not the top one.
Step 5: Pull the Thread to Form a Starting Stitch
Carefully pull the needle and the thread through to the front. Keep pulling until you have made a stitch.
This stitch is your starting stitch. It is the neatest method of starting off blanket stitch applique. There are other methods but they look messier. This is a wonderful way to start your blanket stitching off.
If you’ve marked out dots on your felt, simply move down to the next one and push the needle tip down through it. Otherwise, move the needle tip about 5mm away from the edge of the top piece of felt and 5mm down from that first starting stitch.
Step 6: Pull the Needle up Through the Loop
Exactly the same as you did in step 3, pull your needle and thread through at the back but leave a loop of thread at the front.
Move the needle tip about 5mm across to the right. Push it up right against the edge and through the bottom layer of felt only.
As you bring the needle up, make sure that the needle comes through the loop.
Step 7: Your First Fully Formed Blanket Stitch
Carefully pull the needle up as well as the remainder of the thread from the back of your work.
This now forms your very first blanket stitch. Each stitch is actually shaped like a right angled corner but, because of the way they are worked in a continuous fashion, they end up looking like a ladder with railings on one side only.
Video Tutorial on Sewing Blanket Applique Stitch by Hand
Go to 2 minutes on in the video to get straight to the instructions. I found this video to demonstrate the technique very well.
She does hold and sew the felt in a different direction (worth trying to see what you prefer) but the stitching technique is the same.
How to Carry On Sewing Blanket Stitch Felt Applique
Step 8: Push the Needle Back Down
From this point on, you are just adding more blanket stitches as per the instructions back in steps 5 through 7. I’ll run through again for you briefly so that you can quickly get comfortable with how to carry on making blanket stitches.
Push the needle tip back down through the next marked dot if you have one. Otherwise move the tip approx 5mm from the edge of the top layer of felt and 5mm down from the previous stitch.
The needle in the photo above illustrates where mine will pierce through both layers of felt. Push the needle through to the back.
Step 9: Form a Loop and Pull the Needle Through
Pull most of the thread carefully through to the back but leave a small loop at the front.
Move the needle tip about 5mm across to the right. Push it up from the back of the felt, making sure it is butted up right against the edge of the top layer.
The needle tip should pierce through the bottom layer of felt only.
As you bring the needle through from the back, make sure that the needle comes through the loop. Pull the needle gently to create a blanket stitch.
Step 10: Carry on Sewing Blanket Stitches
Repeat steps 8-9 to keep making more blanket stitches on a straight edge. If you come up against curves or corners, this page explains how to deal with those too.
For now, it helps if you can focus purely on making straight lines of this stitch until you are familiar with it.
You can speed up the sewing process a little by sewing the stitch in one go by positioning the needle as shown in the photo above. This cuts out needing to sew through to the back and then again to the front. The needle simply stays on the top of the felt and forms the stitch in one easy swoop.
How to Blanket Stitch a Corner
Step 11: Place the Needle Through the Corner Position
Corner sections are traditionally worked a little differently and they are a bit more tricky to master. Only attempt corners when you are completely happy with working a blanket stitch on a straight line.
If you don’t have a corner dot marked out as a guide, I recommend that you add one with an erasable fabric marking pen or even any pen on a practice piece of felt.
Mark this corner dot approx 5mm across from the right side of the top layer of felt and 5mm up from the bottom.
Work blanket stitch right down to just before where you’ve marked the corner dot. Now push the needle down through the corner dot and make a blanket stitch as normal.
Step 12: Push the Needle Down Through the Same Corner Position
Now push the tip of the needle back into the corner dot.
Push the needle through to the back and pull the thread through, making sure to leave a loop at the front.
Step 13: Make a Corner Blanket Stitch Through the Same Hole
The tip of your needle needs to come up right next to the corner point of the top layer of felt. It must only come through the bottom layer of felt.
Make sure the needle comes through the loop of thread at the front and gently pull it through to create a stitch.
Step 14: Make a 3rd Stitch Through the Corner Hole
This special corner stitching may look strange at first, try and position the thread carefully to how it looks in the photo above.
You now need to place the tip of the needle through the same corner spot for the third and last time.
Push the needle through and pull most of the thread to the back, leaving a loop at the front as normal.
Step 15: A Corner Blanket Stitch
Bring the needle tip up about 5mm down from where the corner dot is. Make sure it comes up through the bottom layer of felt only.
Pull the needle through the loop at the front and carefully pull to make another stitch.
Now you’ve made your first corner stitch. Keep practising these. The end result looks like a square with a diagonal slant running through it.
How to End Blanket Stitch Off Neatly
Step 16: Make a Blanket Stitch Then Sew a Small Finishing Stitch
It is really easy to end a line of blanket stitching. Simply sew your last stitch as normal, then place the tip of the needle very close to where the thread is coming out and push it down.
Push the needle out to the back and gently pull all the thread through to the back of your work as well. You will see in the next photo that you have just made a tiny finishing stitch.
Step 17: Knot off at the Back of Your Felt Applique
Can you see the tiny finishing stitch in the photo above. Hopefully you can.
This tiny little stitch secures the last blanket stitch into place neatly. You now just need to knot your thread off at the back of your work.
How to Join Thread in Blanket Stitch: Starting a New Thread
Step 18: Bring the Needle up in the Corner of the Last Stitch
Often, we need to end a blanket stitch because we’ve run out of thread and cannot add any more. Ending off is easy as you’ve seen above. But how do you start a new thread to join stitches on?
Luckily, this is also easy. Knot your new thread and position the tip of your needle at the back of your work. Push the needle through just above where you made your little finishing stitch – step 16.
Your needle should come through from the back right in the corner of the last stitch. Refer to the photo above.
Step 19: Start Working Blanket Stitches as Normal
Carefully pull your needle and thread all the way through to the front of your work, until you feel the resistance from the knot at the back.
Now you can carry on making blanket stitch as normal. Go back to step 8 if you need a refresher course on this.
Step 20: Pull the Needle Up to Form Your Stitch
This photo is a reminder that your needle coming up from the back, should only be passing through the bottom layer of the felt.
Joining Right Back to the Beginning
Step 21: One Simple Straight Stitch Makes a Join
Often, and especially with applique, you will be sewing the same stitch all around a shape which means that you need to know how to join right back up to the beginning where you first started.
In blanket stitch, this is very easy. After you’ve worked your last stitch, there should be a stitch sized width between that and the very first stitch you made.
Simply place the tip of the needle at the top of the very first blanket stitch you made and push the needle down. This makes a single vertical stitch that joins the stitching all together. Knot off at the back.
How to Blanket Stitch Around a Circle
Step 22: Make the Starting Stitch First
Make sure you know how to blanket stitch before sewing around a circle or circular shape.
It’s not that much harder but you need to bear in mind that the stitches along the outside edge of the applique should be further apart than the stitches that are sewn on the inside through both pieces of felt.
When stitching on a straight edge, your stitches will look pretty squared off with straight sides like | and |. With a curved edge, your stitches will have angled sides more like \ and /.
It may help you to mark out a series of dots about 5mm in from the edge of your felt circle in a curve as I have done above.
Make a starting stitch. Refer back to step 2 – step 5 if you need a refresher.
Step 23: The Outside Stitches are Wider Around a Curve
Now sew blanket stitch around the circle, just as you would normally except bearing in mind that the outside stitches on the edge of the applique are wider.
Other than that it works in exactly the same way. All it really takes is practice in order to feel confident about sewing around curves and circular shapes.
My felt spool shaped pincushion was definitely good practice in sewing blanket stitch around circles.
I hope this really gives you a fantastic guide to sewing blanket stitch applique. It is a brilliant stitch and one which really does look great teamed up with felt and fabric.
Why not use it now for one of my plushie tutorials.
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