The Ladder Stitch – a Useful Hand Sewing Technique

Join Seams Invisibly Without Hassle

Hand sewing is a useful skill to have. Whether you want to make a quilt or mend an article of clothing, the ability to hand sew is invaluable and the techniques such as the ladder stitch are easy to learn and master. This stitch is perfect for those hard-to-reach places that a machine can’t easily access.

The ladder stitch is a specific hand sewing stitch used to join two pieces of fabric “invisibly,” or without the thread showing. While it is technically impossible for the thread not to show, this technique bares as little of the inner workings of the stitching as possible. The most common applications for the ladder stitch are sewing hems or seams, but it may be used for other applications as well.

To execute the ladder stitch, thread a hand sewing needle of the appropriate gauge for the fabric you are using. Fine fabrics require fine needles, while denser fabrics, like denim, use larger needles. Fold the raw edges of the fabric under. Bring the needle through a small piece of one side of the folded fabric, just below the fold. Only the fold is sewn, rendering the stitching nearly invisible. The needle is drawn back and forth horizontally through each side of the fabric, the stitches resembling the rungs of a ladder.

Some individuals cannot learn to hand stitch via textual descriptions. Craft Magazine has created an excellent video demonstration of this stitch that can be found here.

Because it is invisible or near invisible, the ladder stitch has a distinct advantage over other popular hand stitches like the running stitch or back stitch while providing the same amount of durability and strength to the finished sewn item, if not more-so. In addition to the strength added by using the ladder stitch, the time commitment needed to perform this stitch is significantly less than, say, the time needed to sew a garment with a backstitch. The invisibility of the seam lends a finished, neat appearance to a hand-stitched garment.Take note that while no stitch is completely invisible, using a thread that matches your fabric will minimize the appearance of this strong, subtle stitching method. For a wild and funky look, experiment with a contrasting or complimentary thread color.