Blanket stitch, an embroidery technique, is both useful and decorative. It is traditionally used on the outside edges of blankets, but it can be a rustic addition to tea towels, napkins, quilts, appliques, and even clothing. The stitch adds a finished look to the project, and it reinforces the edge. No need for hemming!
Hand Sewing Blanket Stitch
Insert your needle through the back of the fabric to the front. Place your needle a diagonal 1/4 inch away, and insert the needle back through the fabric. Bring the needle back to the front, making a 1/4-inch vertical stitch. Insert the needle to the back, making a 1/4-inch horizontal stitch.
Every time you do this, it will lock the previous stitch in place, creating a kind of ladder effect that keeps the edge nice and secure. Blanket stitch works well around a curved edge, as you can adjust your stitches to accommodate the changing edge.
Machine Sewing Blanket Stitch
Many sewing machines include this stitch in their repertoire. You can either use a raw edge or turn the edge under to create a small hem underneath the blanket stitch. You can use any weight of thread and a standard-sized needle. For a fun touch, use a contrast-color thread to help the stitch stand out against the fabric.
Nikki Van De Car is a knitting and motherhood blogger for the website What To Knit When You're Expecting. Her collection of knitting patterns, "What To Knit When You're Expecting," is available from Running Press.