The Strongest Hand Stitch and Machine Sewing Stitch

Andrew B. McCutchen
The issue of which is the strongest between a sewing machine stitch and a hand sewing stitch always sparks debate as people have different opinions about it. We've sampled several views and made a conclusion on which seems stronger. Keep reading for detailed information.

Sewing machines and hand sewing applies several stitches. These stitches are applicable depending on the type of fabric, sewing purpose, and personal preference, but either way, the critical difference is the strength of the stitches made by each. While it’s hard to distinguish the strength of the stitches made by the two, there is obviously one that is more precise and efficient than the other. They are done differently and with different threads, as discussed later in this article, which is the strongest: sewing machine stitch or hand sewing stitch.

Table Of Contents

Hand Sewing Stitches

Hand stitching is a convenient sewing method that involves making stitches on hems and clothes using a needle and thread by hand. It can be fun but requires concentration for stronger and more precise stitches. Hand sewing involves different stitches like; back stitch, cross stitch, running stitch, basting stitch, and slip stitch.

1. Backstitch

Backstitch is the most common stitch used in both machine and hand sewing. It involves making stitches back and forth; thus, it’s the strongest stitch. Besides, it's easy to learn and apply.

2. Running stitch

Running stitches is a form of embroidery which requires moving the needle in shorter and equal intervals when sewing along the fabric. It is one of the easiest hand-sewing stitches.

3. Basting stitch

Basting stitches are loose stitches holding fabric together and are meant to be removed. They are temporarily meant to give shape to the fabric and can be adjusted or tightened per one's wish. They are usually done on new-free-size fabric.

4. Slip stitch

Slip stitch is done by moving yarn over several stitches to close seams. It’s mainly used in knitting and is easy to learn.

Which is the Strongest Hand Stitch?

While the strength of a stitch depends on the skills and experience of the sewist, the back stitch is considered the strongest hand-sewn stitch. As the name suggests, with backstitch, you'll go over each area twice by making a back loop while the needle is still on the fabric after every two forward stitches. Unlike the ordinary running stitch, the needle goes before the thread without being reversed. Some other reasons why backstitch is considered the strongest hand-sewing stitch include the following;

Besides being the strongest, backstitch is the simplest sewing method to learn and apply. You'll always prefer backstitches to any other sewing method once you know how to do them. And it's a versatile stitch since it can be done on any fabric.

Machine Sewing Stitches

Several stitches can be sewn with machines. They all use different threads and are applied differently to achieve specific purposes. Sewing with machines is easier, quicker, and more vulnerable. Here are some of the common sewing machine stitches;

1. Straight Stitch

Straight stitch is the most common machine stitch. It involves a single and straight thread line with two overlapping threads. Two sets of yarn are used, one placed on the top thread spool and the other at the bottom of the bobbin.

2. Chain Stitch

The chain stitch is popularly used for decoration. Here, stitches link to form chain-like patterns on the fabric.

3. Embroidery Stitch

These are decorative stitches of several patterns which are obtained by chain stitches. Modern sewing machines have ready embroidery patterns installed in the machine's computer. Also, one can customize designs, upload them into the machine, and use them as they wish.

4. Buttonhole Stitch

Buttonhole stitch uses advanced technology. Sewing machines are enabled to automatically stitch around a hole in the fabric, sealing its edges.

5. Zigzag Stitch

You could be wondering which stitch is ideal for stretchy fabric. Zigzag stitch is a setting on most sewing machines that enables one to make uneven patterns, usually on stretchy fabric. It can also be used for embroidery.

6. Darning Stitch

The darning stitch includes crisscross patterns sewn across a fabric hole, like on button holes.

7. Blanket Stitch

Blanket Stitch is used in stitching edges of fabric in a looping manner. Half of the stitch goes through the inner side of the fabric, and the rest runs along its edges.

8. Blind Hem

Blind hems are stitches meant to hide the threads behind the outside edge of the fabric. It involves using a series of smaller stitches in the front than in the back. It takes effort to achieve this stitch and thus requires expertise for effectiveness.

9. Basting

A basting stitch is a temporary stitch that uses long stitches. It is usually used on material meant to be sewn later. It can be easily removed without damaging the fabric and is easy to apply.

Which is the Strongest Sewing Machine Stitch?

A Straight stitch sewn by a machine is always durable and difficult to tear. It’s thus the strongest among sewing machine stitches such that removing it can damage the fabric. With this stitch, multiple layers of threads are meant to overlap, forming a knot strong enough to hold the fabric. Straight stitch is functional and uses less thread; thus is commonly used in machine sewing.

Is Hand Sewing as Strong as Machine Sewing?

The strength of a stitch depends on several factors, like the skills of the seamstress, stitch tension, and the type of thread. Achieving a stitch like a machine's is likely if done accurately with a strong thread. While machine stitches tend to be stronger than hand stitches, poorly executed machine stitch may be weaker than hand-sewn stitch, and a correctly done hand stitch take the shape of a machine stitch. Comparing the various sewing stitches above, you can determine which is the strongest: sewing machine stitch or hand sewing stitch.

Arguably, sewing machine stitches are stronger than hand-sewing stitches. With machines, it’s easier to achieve uniform and tight stitches, which are more resistant to unraveling. They make shorter and tight stitches that are hard to achieve, even if done by a professional. Moreover, machines use thicker threads to sew and thus are stronger and more durable.

Why Do You Need a Strong Stitch?

Repeated stitches on fabric may tear or leave an ugly look on it. Furthermore, it can tamper with the shape and design of the fabric. Choosing a strong and durable stitch is vital to avoid such inconveniences.

Which is the Strongest Sewing Thread?

Different sewing projects require specific threads. Threads designed to withstand tough and thicker fabric are not necessarily the strongest but their durability. Threads are meant to last, but some are lifetime as they can outlive any fabric. Tenara and Profilen threads are lifetimes and can withstand UV rays, contaminated water, and chemicals like cleaning agents. They are mainly used to sew marine and other outdoor awnings.

Nylon and polyester are the most common strongest threads. While nylon is stretchier and more flexible than polyester, polyester can withstand UV rays t discolor, although too much exposure weakens and discolors yarns such as nylon. Cotton threads are also stronger.

How Do You Hand Stitch a Strong Seam?

There are numerous ways to achieve a strong seam by hand stitch. Provided you maintain a straight line and consistent tension, hand sewing can produce a strong seam since it is more flexible to maneuver and control the process on the fabric. Also, one can get the right point by using the correct stitch, preferably the backstitch, which is considered the strongest hand stitch. You also need to use a more substantial thread like nylon or polyester thread for thin fabric or double your thread when working on thicker material to increase the strength of the seam.

Maintain smaller stitches for thick fabric since smaller stitches hold better.


Both machine and hand stitches can be strong and durable. But comparing the two, sewing machine stitches are stronger than hand-sewing stitches. They are precise, can use a thicker thread, and are versatile since they can handle several fabrics and patterns. However, it depends on personal preference, material, skills, and the sewing project at hand to decide which stitch to utilize.

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