What is Whipstitching?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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The basic concept of the whipstich is very simple. Designed to be a means of creating a way to prevent the edge of sections of fabric or materials from unraveling, whipstitching is a simple stitch that creates a diagonal pass over the edge. The whipstitch produces a loop or knot that effectively seals off the edge, so the material will stay fully intact over a long period of time. Whipstitching is actually used with a number of different applications. Here are some examples of whip stitching that illustrate how the technique is commonly used.

A time-honored use of whipstitching has to do with the print industry. For a number of years, whipstitching was employed to sew in the individual leaves or pages of a book, securing them to the spine with the loop effect. Along with use in the creation of hardback books, whipstitching was also a common practice in the creation of pamphlets for small businesses and religious organizations. As a technique that was understood to add an aesthetic element to the design of the books, whipstitching was also a method that did not require much in the way of equipment. The simplicity of whip stitching made it relatively easy to use for the pamphlets and also less expensive than many other publishing methods.


As a side industry to the production of new printed materials, whipstitching was often a method employed by bookbinders that specialized in book restoration. In some cases, the whip stitched restored books would actually appreciate in value, if the work was done by a truly talented binder. Even today, collectors will sometimes favor an expertly whipstitched edition over other editions that were bound with some other method.

When it comes to home textiles, whipstitching can be both a necessary means of binding the edges of carpet remnants for use, as well as a decorative accent. Often, unhemmed remnants can be purchased at a fraction of what a finished carpet would cost. Someone who understands how to do whipstitching can utilize a carpet needle and anything from cat gut fish line to sturdy nylon to effect a border on the remnant that either blends in with the color of the carpet or creates a contrasting border that will add visual interest.

Whipstitching can also be a quick and easy way to dress up drapery panels, kitchen and bathroom towels, and even tablecloths. Using a binding agent to pick up one of the colors of the print or pattern, or simply creating a border that compliments the main color scheme of the material, the use of whipstitching is an inexpensive way to take mass produced textiles and give them a look that is unique to your home.

Whether as a practical binding method or simply to add a little more color or interest to a finished product, whipstitching is a sewing method that just anyone can master in a short time. Since whipstitching also does not take long, you can easily begin a project and complete your work in a very short time. The result is a product that has your own special touch, and will bring enjoyment for many years to come.


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