Using Your Machine’s Decorative Stitches

on June 24 | in Sewing + Quilting Tips, Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 207 Comments

Pam from Pantsfreesia joins us today to show fun ideas for decorative stitches. You can learn more about Pam here. Do you have a favorite project for something beyond your straight or zigzag stitches? Share your examples, project ideas and thoughts in the comments!

From Pam: So you’ve read the advice and followed your gut and picked a sewing machine. One that has many lovely stitches, like these. But what to do with all of them?

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For most general purpose home-sewers, the straight stitch (#00 in the diagram) will be used 90% of the time, with zigzag stitches (#03 or #05) a distant second for sewing knits. The remaining stitches will peer hopefully at you from the reference card, waiting until you find the right project to use them.

The decorative stitch that gets the most use on my machine is the blanket stitch (#13, #14, #30, or #31). I use this primarily for appliquΓ© projects for quilts I’m working on in conjunction with Wonder Under. This particular block is from Art to Heart’s 12 Days of Christmas, which I’m doing as a “block of the month” project with a local quilt store.

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On a close-up, you can see how the straight stitch part of the blanket stitch is just outside the applique piece being sewn down, and the “arm” of the blanket stitch catches the actual fabric.

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Depending on the amount of wear the item will get (the above block will be a wall hanging and not a quilt that will not be cuddled with), you might want to use the zigzag stitch. For items that will get a moderate amount of wear, the applique will stand up to more abuse if you set your stitch length shorter (16-20 stitches per inch, or a setting between 1 and 2 on my Singer) and a wider width.

I fell in love with the tulip stitch (#32 and #33) but didn’t have a project immediately come to mind until my 3 year old daughter announced that she needed a new dress. And it had to be purple. As purple as possible, in fact. Using the pillowcase dress tutorial originally featured during Kids’ Clothes Month in September 2007, I made her a simple purple dress and embellished the pocket and bottom hem with the tulip stitch.

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Pocket Close-up:

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This particular pillowcase had the satin stripe built in, so the tulip stitch is purely decorative on the hem, but does take the place of the top stitching on the pocket. In most cases, the decorative stitches are not meant to be used for structural seams, but rather embellishment.

Another project I’ve used an assortment of stitches on is a set of everyday placemats for my family. We had a set of plain blue placemats we’d been using but they were a tad boring. I let my kids each pick out a fabric from my stash to sew onto the back of the placemat (not shown is my son’s Transformers choice; it was in the wash when I took this picture!).

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To make them, I measured a piece of fabric that fit inside in the placemat with a 1″ border, plus 1″ extra each way and pressed under 1/2″ to finish the edges. I pinned the fabric heavily to the placemat, picked a decorative stitch and sewed it down.

Close-up of my daughter’s choice, using a Star Stitch (#07):

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My choice, using a diamond stitch (#45 and #46):

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And my husband’s choice, using a blanket stitch (#13, #14, #30, or #31):

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With this reversible placemat, we can all show some individuality, or we can flip the placemats over to the plain blue side if we want to be a little more formal with the table setting.

A few last words about using decorative stitches: have your bobbin full when you start because these use more than the normal amount of thread. Likewise, using these stitches take longer than just a straight stitch due to the amount of forward and backward motion of the feed dogs while the patterns are created with needle and thread. So dip your toe in and experiment with some decorative stitching… Post your ideas and projects in the forum!

Join us for Sewing Machine Month! Enter to win this week’s prize package from our Sewing Machine Month sponsor: Husqvarna/Viking. Comment on any post this week for your chance to win the General Sewing Package (over $150 retail value), or you might win one of four $20 gift certificates to Sew,Mama,Sew!.
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207 Responses to Using Your Machine’s Decorative Stitches

  1. Wow thank you a lot , amazing post full of details

  2. Cheryl says:

    Thanks for reminding me to put my decorative stitches to use. I have some multicolored thread that is itching to be showcased on something and those stitches are the perfect way to do it. I LOVE the tulip one and wish I had that on mine!

  3. Sandra Chavez says:

    Loved your placemats, what a wonderful way to use up the stash. Your applique is lovely, as well.

  4. Saraj says:

    Thank you for this! It’s helpful to know a little more about those stitches, and to see them in action.

  5. susan says:

    This makes me want a machine with more features. My machine is very limited on choice of stitches.

  6. Beth says:

    I love this!! My viking has some of these and I have never tried them. They remind me my mom used them when I was a little girl for our dresses and some napkins!

  7. nhmama says:

    I really like the smocking stitch on my machine, I haven’t used it for actual smocking yet… but I have used it a couple of times to embelish some doll things… onto bigger and better things now perhaps!

  8. Liz B says:

    I’m very jealous of all the stitches your machine does! I love my sewing machine dearly (a decent Kenmore) but sat down the other day thinking I would put a decorative stitch on something and finding my choices lacking. It’s not something I do often so hadn’t really noticed! Good info here, thanks for sharing.

  9. danna osen says:

    When making a frayed edge quilt I used a different decorative stitch to make the big X in each block. It was a fun and informative project. My 6 yo granddaughter also likes to the decorative stitches on anything!

  10. alison says:

    Wow! Thanks for the tips on decorative stiches!

  11. Mare says:

    The tulips are adorable! I need to play with more of my stitches.

  12. Karen says:

    Wow! I never use mine. I need to play around with them more!
    The last time I tried they didn’t look that pretty! Off ot go play with my decorative stitches!

  13. Ingrid says:

    I really enjoyed your post and pictures. I need to get a little more creative with my sewing stitches!

  14. Desiree says:

    What a great idea with the placemats! I have been using decorative stitches on burp cloths – I love them πŸ™‚

  15. Christina says:

    how fun, thanks for the up close pictures! i’m walking over to my machine right now to peek at the different stitches that I’ve never even considered using!

  16. Melissa says:

    I use my decorative stitches to enhance plain diaper-come-burp-cloths that I give to new mamas. :o) It personalizes the burp cloth just that little bit more. There are SO many great ways to use them, though. SO darn many. Yay for decorative stitches!!

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks. I’m pretty scared of the decorative stitches, myself. Mind you, I do wish I had a machine that did blanket stitch, because I love it and would put it everywhere if I didn’t have to do it by hand.

  18. julia sears says:

    Love the purple dress!! I want one! Thanks for the inspiration to use more creative stitches on my machine.

  19. hannita says:

    Thanks for the fun stitch inspiration. I used the decorative stitches on my old machine but haven’t ventured that direction since I got the new one.

  20. Amy Hunter says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! I am totally going to have to try that blanket stitch. I always look at the cool stitches and wonder what I could do with them.

  21. Jennifer says:

    This is great info! I just got my grandma’s really fancy sewing machine–she’s in a nursing home now b/c of dementia. She did so much sewing and quilting for us when we were kids. I’m excited to use her machine but it’s kind of bittersweet… But I’m nervous about actually getting it out and using it after my own basic machine!

  22. Christina says:

    Thank you! I’ve only ever tried one decorative stitch and I was scared silly to use it.

  23. Mary P says:

    Thanks for the post. I like to throw in decorative stitches whenever I get the chance. I figure, why not?

  24. I wish my machine had lots of stitches. Some great ideas in there too, well done. I really like the purple pillowcase dress πŸ˜‰

  25. keren says:

    Great examples, thanks!
    I have an old sewing machine, so there are only few kinds of stitches, but the ones you showed are cool!

  26. Beth says:

    Thanks for the ideas… I aways look at my stitches and think I should use one of these sometime! This will inspire me to find a use for a couple of those decorative stitches.

  27. I have really enjoyed just sewing 2 receiving blankets together envelope style, turning it right side out, and using a decorative stitch to seal the edge. It is really easy and makes a quick and cute gift.

  28. Alissa says:

    Thanks for the fun ideas. I’ve only ever used them as a border for spit rags… how flattering for them.

  29. amy says:

    Great ideas. I’m going to have to try some of my machine’s special stitches.

  30. Darlene says:

    Great photos and ideas for decorative stitches.

  31. Nancy Mc says:

    What fun ideas. Thank you.

  32. Holee says:

    I also only have a dozen stitches. I love using them and wish I had more. I use my twin needle to add to them and sometimes I just take off the foot and make my own swirls and waves. The tulip is just too cute!

  33. jenn says:

    It is great to see these stitches in real life! Thanks for the great inspiration!

  34. michele m says:

    thanks so much and the photos are extra helpful also.

  35. Lindsey says:

    how fun, i’m sure i have a few of those neat ones on my machine! thank you!

  36. Stephanie says:

    Great ideas! I really like that tulip stitch. How cute!

  37. Ananda says:

    I’m so envious of the blanket stitch. I’m adding that to my next machines “must” list.

  38. Helena says:

    Great insite, I just got a new machine with a bunch of stitches and so wnat to try them out.

  39. Becky says:

    Great reminder. I forget my machine can do more than straight stitch and zigzag!

  40. LisaC says:

    I have a few favourite decorative stitches, but so far I am too impatient for most of them. They are fun to have though.

  41. I use decorative stitches a lot! My favorites in my husqvarna C10 are the tulips and the little hearts!
    I like to make a little program: one tulip to the right and one tulip to the left etc. It looks so nice!
    I like crazy quilting but sometimes I make items that should survive machine washing such as table cloths and pencil cases. I stitch the seams of the crazy block with machine decorative stitches instead of hand embroidery, It is faster and stronger.

  42. Carrie P. says:

    Great ideas! I don’t use my special stitches enough but now I am inspired.

  43. amy says:

    I love these ideas. Now I just need to figure out the tension when using my decorative stitch cartridges on my hand-me-down machine so that I don’t get a bird’s nest on the back.

  44. Jessica T says:

    Now I’m going to have to google ‘transformer fabric’ for my son πŸ™‚

  45. Marissa says:

    Decorative stitches are so much fun!

  46. Kelly W says:

    I currently have three older machines (60s, 80s, 90s) and they all have between 13-22 stitches. I never had a manual for the one I’ve had the longest (60s) so just played it safe. Seeing how cute some of the stitches turn out I’m definitely going to download the manuals for the newer two machines.

  47. Sara L. says:

    Oh, I love the decorative stitches too! My favorites are 15 and 22, which get thrown in randomly when I am quilting, just to give a bit of extra interest. Very pretty in a variegated thread….

    Love the placemat idea. (and I love that flying machine fabric, very cool!)

  48. Gail says:

    Great. I need to use more decorative stitches.

  49. Christina says:

    Thank you. I’ve just recently started trying out some of the decorative stitches on my machine. I only wish my machine had a blanket stitch.

  50. sarah says:

    Thanks for sharing your ideas!

  51. Karen says:

    I’ve used mine only on Christmas stockings. Maybe now I’ll use them more.

  52. Raphiel says:

    Thanks for all the pics and info. I think I’m going to go and give it a whirl right now…

  53. Kristin says:

    Ok, I resolve to try more stitches. Thanks for the great ideas on ways to use them!

  54. Meagan says:

    Great post, thanks for explaining these! I’m loving this series of blog posts!

  55. Carolyn says:

    Great ideas! I love the placemat idea. We’d use that all the time, and I’d get to admire my handywork!

  56. Mary says:

    Well, I just might have to start experimenting! I’ve got 20 some stitches I have never used on my machine.

  57. Kelli says:

    I also immediately fell in love with my tulip stitch and also added to a dress for my daughter…now I think I’ll move on to placemats too…hmm, the possiblities!

  58. Harley says:

    Such cute projects. Wish my machine had that tulip stitch! Thanks for showing the blanket stitch in use!

  59. Amy D. says:

    Placemats seem like the perfect decorative stitch tester item! I might have to whip some up!

  60. Alissa says:

    Thanks for the great ideas! I had no idea what the blanket stitch was for, it never occurred to me to use it for applique. I always just used the boring old zig zag. I also love the placemat idea. I have some similar placemats, and I bet the kids would love to jazz them up like that. Maybe it would actually inspire them to eat their supper. πŸ™‚

  61. Amy says:

    I always forget to use my decorative stitches so this is great. I did use them on a recent project though, the stardust baby booties. See here:
    I used the stitches on the second pair of booties, the purple ones.

  62. Diana Summers says:

    Wonderful ideas! Thanks for inspiring me to try something besides straight!

  63. I like to use my decorative stitches to embellish solid color pillow cases- I’ve made quite a few cute ones for Lady’s room!

  64. Courtney says:

    I sure hope to have a sewing machine with decorative stitches some day. For now, I’ll have to stick with my “vintage” sewing machine.

  65. Heather says:

    I love using my decorative stitches! The Christmas block that you have completed is beautiful! πŸ™‚

  66. silver says:

    My machine’s idea of a decorative stitch is something like #11. I wish I had cute stitches like hearts, tulips, etc.

  67. Katie says:

    Now I kind of wish my machine had decorative stitches. When I was taking sewing classes and used machines with decorative stitches I never really used them. I should have!

  68. Sarah E. says:

    I so wish my machine had special stitches! It’s like 20-30 years old and has a zigzag and m stitch and that’s about it!

  69. Linnea says:

    Oh that pillowcase dress is so cute! I might need to make an adult version and try out one of my decorative stitches.
    My machine has this awesome little old school camper stitch (think little pod trailers) and I’ve been contemplating putting together a traveling kit using that stitch…perhaps it’s time.

  70. Rochelle says:

    Great suggestions for those various little used stitches!

  71. Megan says:

    Great ideas! I need to try them.

  72. Nicole Kirk says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the dec stitches on the purple dress! SEW cute!!! I need to put that on my projects list! Thanks for sharing!

  73. Leslie Newton says:

    There was a time when these stitches screamed “home-made” and not in a good way. Now, they can add a lot of “wow” to the project. I have played with the stitches on my machine and amazed at the ones that I like but would have never used from just seeing them in the manual that came with the machine.

  74. Carissa says:

    Fun stuff! Sewing for kids is always a great excuse to use decorative stitches!

  75. Annette W says:

    Goodness. I think I really need a new machine that isn’t so basic! What fun! The dress with tulip stitches is adorable!

  76. Christy says:

    This has inspired me to take advantage of the wonderful decorative stitches on my machine. What a cute dress!

  77. Maureen says:

    Great photo examples. I have quite a few stitches on my machine that I never use. You have inspired me to try them out.

  78. Barb says:

    Thanks for some wonderful ideas!

  79. Ali D says:

    I was wondering what I would use some of those stitches for – thanks for the great examples!

  80. Even though I rarely use anything but the straight stitch, I’m still envious that your machine has a tulip stitch… Maybe it’s time to turn the dial and try something new.

  81. Serena says:

    I love using different stitches with my kids’ clothes. They add that certain flair- without being too in your face- or heaven forbid, girly! πŸ˜‰

  82. Nicole N. says:

    Oh my, I am starting to feel like my super simple machine is close to being out grown. I guess I just need to keep sewing and hope to wear it out soon so I can get one with a few more stitch choices soon!

  83. Oh how clever now that gives me a rough idea what do you some of the stitches for Thanks PAM πŸ™‚

  84. Emily S says:

    Thanks for the tips – i’ve finally got my first machine that actually has decorative stitches!

  85. lizzie says:

    Great article! I’m dreaming of such a machine.

  86. gina says:

    i love the reversible placemat idea πŸ™‚ very clever! i don’t think my machine has fun decorative stitches like that… but i guess i’ll have to check again; those look fun!

  87. jackie says:

    i love decorative stitches! thanks for the ideas.

  88. Vanessa M. says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! I love the photo examples.

  89. By LuLu says:

    I am very jealous of you tulip stitch! Actually I am jealous of a lot of your stitches! My machine has about 14 stitches and that is it! Oh to be able to decorative stitch! I love the Purple dress! Thanks for the ideas to add to my next sewing machine wish list!

  90. Limor says:

    Thanks for the great ideas. I love the tulip stitch on the pocket. I’ll have to start using some of those decorative stitches on my own projects.

  91. Carol says:

    After reading some of the comments I do not feel that bad anymore. I thought I was the only person who bought a 48-stitch machine and only use a couple of stitches all of the time.
    Thank you for the inspiration. I will try to press some other bottons on my machine.

  92. Deb V says:

    Thanks for all the great ideas. I especially like the tulips on the purple dress.

  93. Margie says:

    I have many unused decorative stitches on my machine. I test them & try to figure out where to use them.Thanks for the ideas. I’ve been looking for ways to use them in Caitlin’s clothes.

  94. Intaly says:

    I was so excited about the decorative stitches when I discovered them on my sewing machine. They are awesome!

  95. an impatient middle-aged woman who only started sewing this past winter says:

    My machine has a few decorative stitches, but I don’t use them very often. I never know what to set the stitch length to, and there’s another setting that also changes what the stitch looks like (I think maybe it’s width), but I always turn it the wrong direction and end up with a mess. So by the time I do a bunch of fiddling with dials and practice on scraps, I could have used a straight stitch and been done with it. But I guess I’ll get it eventually.

  96. Trudy Callan says:

    This was very inspiring. It encourages me to do a little more than just the basic straight and zig zag stitches; take a little time and effort to make something special and unique.

  97. Alissa says:

    Wow-this was great!

  98. Amy says:

    I would love the have some of those stitches. Great ideas!

  99. Stephanie Wehrman says:

    My machine doesn’t have any decorative stitches, but I have seen them used when finshing the top of a bag or purse, and think they would be lovely around the outside of an apron!

  100. Monica Gee says:

    Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever used any of my decorative stitches. I need to be a little bit more experimental ’cause these look great!

  101. Bethany says:

    Wow, great information! I love that purple dress and the personalized placemats are really cute! Thanks!

  102. Norma in NZ says:

    thanks for all the great, inspirational ideas. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the decorative stitches when doing day to day sewing.

  103. Leanna says:

    What great ideas…now only to be able to have one of these cool machines that will do that! Oh, to dream.

  104. Diane says:

    I do need to play around with some of the decorative stitches on my machine. I really love your idea for personalizing the placemats. Thank you!

  105. Kathleen says:

    These are some great examples for using the various stitch options. My old Kenmore is a bit limited in the number of decorative stitches, but I really should be more adventurous with trying something other than the straight-stitch and zig-zag stitch for everything I do! Thanks for the motivation!

  106. Mary says:

    Every time I start a project I promise myself I’ll try out a decorative stitch, and then I always chicken out! I’m so worried about my lines being crooked. Maybe today I’ll finally take the plunge!

  107. Helena says:

    What a great post. I have yet to use any of my decorative stitches, but now I’ve got a couple ideas!

  108. Rose P in AZ says:

    I’ve used fancy stitches for potholders, pockets, blankets, handbags (mostly the linings), etc. My favs are feather, thorn, and fagotting stitches, since my machine doesn’t have a true blanket stitch. Love your projects.

  109. Tanya Barrett says:

    Useful information, thanx so much! I never know what to do with all my stitches πŸ™‚

  110. Mandy says:

    That tulip stitch is too cute! I am jealous, my machine, although wonderful, doesn’t come with the fancier embroidery type stitches. Maybe its time for a new machine πŸ˜‰

  111. Ellen Ban says:

    I need to try some applique with the blanket stitch…I have used several other stitches on a quilted pillow cover and it was fun. Thanks for the inspiration!

  112. Melissa H. says:

    Great ideas. I always wondered about those other stitches.

  113. Patricia says:

    As always, so informative and inspirational. Thank you!

  114. Elyse Mullis says:

    Oh man, I love decorative stitches! This is a HUGE reason why I want a new machine, because I don’t have these! I especially love the decorative stitching on the little purple dress. SO pretty! -Elyse

  115. Tricia L. says:

    So cute! Great ideas, but unfortunately my machine only does the basic stitches. Gives me to look forward to something when I upgrade!

  116. Melissa Ann says:

    I love that tulip stitch! I wish I had some of these on my machine!

  117. Renee E says:

    I do not have decorative stitches but I have experimented with different stitches! I LOVE those.

  118. Lori says:

    Even my little – and extremely basic – Brother has a few decorative stitches. You inspired me to try them out!

  119. phyllis says:

    Great placemats Thanks

  120. Nicole says:

    I’ve always been a tad nervous to branch out and try a few more stitches – now that I have a bit more inspiration, it’s time to dive in! Thanks for sharing some beautiful and fun projects!

  121. Becky says:

    A new stitch is fun and can make RTW unique for you, by you.

  122. alisha says:

    I know my machine doesn’t have that many decorative stitches, but it does have some. Now I’m motivated to give them a try!

  123. Jennifer P says:

    Great advice! Love the blanket stitch…..must try that one.

  124. trashalou says:

    Thanks for the info. the decorative stitches son my m machine scare the bejaysus out of me.

  125. Page says:

    I would love to see more articles on using decorative stitches. Pfaff had a lovely sample showing their decorative stitches in an ad and it totally hooked me. But I have mainly used the blanket stitch myself. I like how she used the tulip stitch though. Thanks for the idea!

  126. Natalija says:

    Thank you for the inspiration. I do have several of these stitches, but admit I rarely use them.

  127. Danielle says:

    so cool! Thanks for those examples!

  128. Meg says:

    I think I’ve maybe used a stitch other than the straight stitch ONCE since January? And even then, it was a zig zag stitch! I’m not much of a decorative sewer, maybe I’ll step out of the box now?

  129. Rebecca says:

    Awesome! Thanks for the ideas! I just got a “new” machine – my first – but kind of an old model. It does though have several design cams that I am thrilled about trying! Nothing really fancy, but at least I have a few!!! Thanks for sharing!

  130. Mollie says:

    Thanks for the information and ideas. I tend to look at all the different stitches on my machine and laugh because I have no idea what to do with them all…besides sewing them on scraps to see what they ‘really’ look like:o)

  131. Tam says:

    What great ways to use the stiches. Mine machine only has a few….but one day…it might be useful knowledge to have!

  132. Sara says:

    If only I had a sewing machine with something other than just a straight and zig-zag stitch. Someday I’ll have an awesome machine and get to do amazing stitching on projects. Thanks for the tips!

  133. Barbara Sindlinger says:

    It’s amazing how easy we forget about all those stitches we have. Thanks for the cute samples.

  134. lina says:

    thank you so much! Inspiring post! Now I really should try all of those fancy stitches.

  135. georgia says:

    I use mine on the edges of burp rags (or used to until I got a serger and now do it the lazy way. . .), but my kids think they’re totally fantastic and love to play around with them on pieces of felt.

  136. I love using my decorative stitches on little cocktail napkins I make for hostess/teacher gifts. I have so many stitches on my Viking Designer SE that sometimes I am surprised to find what I do…like the “pig” stitch I used for envelope pillow edges! They are also great for trim around the edges of little girls dresses, tops, etc. Fun stuff!

  137. Erin says:

    It’s funny that I have been afraid to explore these! Time to stop being a nervous nellie… Thanks for the great info.

  138. Joanna says:

    I have tried using the scalloped stitch (#9 above) but it never worked. I don’t know if it’s my tension or what, but none of the decorative stitches has worked for me. what am I doing wrong????

  139. Kimberly N says:

    I love decorative stitches and am always looking for new things to put them on. I used them for a bunch of baby stuff: the leaf stitch on the straps on my mei-tei (very handy for telling which straps are which when putting it on;; the wave and wrought iron-ish stitch a couple inches from the edge of receiving blankets (; the star stitch around the edges of a sleep sack neck opening (; the blanket stitch around the edges of a tag blanket.

  140. Carol says:

    When I need to quilt quickly, I’ve used a stitch similar to #16 along the seams, instead of stitching in the ditch. Decorative stitches also work well for attaching bindings instead of slip-stitching by hand. You machine sew the binding to the back, wrap to the front and use a decorative stitch half-way on the binding and half on the quilt to sew it down.

  141. tracylee says:

    Thanks for the post. I rarely use the decorative stitches my machine has because I am nervous about screwing it up! Next baby quilt I will use some of the cute stitches.

  142. Dawn Whalen says:

    I’m such a chicken about decorative stitches. I mostly quilt, and just have no imagination about working them in. Maybe I’ll branch out a little more and just give it a try …

  143. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for showing the pictures of the blanket stitch. My machine has this stitch and I’ve never tried using it, but I’m inspired now!

  144. Crystal says:

    Great ideas. I am fairly new to sewing and this post gives so many great ways to use all of those extra stitches. I am excited to try some out.

  145. Bobbie says:

    I haven’t played much with all my decorative stitches … Thanks for the info. it gave me some fun ideas I will try. Love the placemat idea.

  146. Janet says:

    Thanks for the info! I’ve been a little scared to try anything requiring a double needle (and still am) but I do love the other decorative stitches for a variety of applications, including sewing on the binding for a small quilt.

  147. Francis C. Moore says:

    I must branch out and use stitches other than the straight stitch. Good information. Francis C. Moore

  148. becky says:

    Great ideas. I don’t have many decorative stitches but I am going to do a better job of thinking out of the box.

  149. lara says:

    I used a dark solid piece of fabric with really bright thread and stitched parallel lines using different decorative stitches (I even used some with a twin needle). My first intention was to make a sample piece out of it, so I would always know how the stitches would actually look. But eventually I used the fabric to make a little zipper purse. Turned out really nice.

  150. i really need a machine with more stitch options, me thinks!! πŸ™‚

  151. K says:

    I’ve used a few of my decorative stitches on baby burp cloths. I did have to learn to be patient since it goes a bit slower.

  152. Hannah says:

    I used to be content with my sewing machine, then I read this post! Sigh…….

  153. Rebecca says:

    Great ideas – I’d love to see a future post showing more uses of specialty stitches.

  154. Kristin says:

    Great ideas. I like the placemats.

  155. angel says:

    Wow! That’s some fancy stitching! My darling little machine only has 6 or 7 options. It was nice to see the stitches up close.

  156. Kim B says:

    Thank you for this useful information! I’ve found myself wonder what exactly one could do with all those beautiful stitches, and this has some really wonderful ideas!

  157. Breanna Laquay says:

    this is very helpful as I am shopping for a new machine. After seeing cute stitching ideas I think I will look for a more versatile machine.

  158. scenelady says:

    I think I’ll try some decorative stitches out on napkins. I usually just use straight or zig-zag stitch.

  159. Missy says:

    I’ve only ever used my straight and zig zag stitch, but this was inspiring. Moda Bake Shop had a kindle cover/book cover, I believe, with many different decorative stitches in between the fabric strips- it was super inspiring too. =)

  160. Sarah says:

    I like to do the decorative stitches around bags – instead of a straight top-stitch. The #21 is one of my favs to do with a bold contrasting thread. Also, just tried some around a hem of a lil girls skirt instead of ricrac, turned out super cute!! Thanks for the reminder to continue experimenting πŸ™‚

  161. Kendall says:

    Thank you! I think I’ve always been afraid to try all those other stitches.

  162. Myra says:

    Great ideas. I really like the individual placemats.

  163. April says:

    Oh, great. Now I want to go throw my sewing machine in the garbage can because I never want to make even one more pocket without a tulip stitch.

    Thanks a lot, Pam! πŸ™‚

  164. Amanda says:

    i have always wanted to use my decorative stitches, but didn’t have a reason to. Now I may find a reason! Thanks!

  165. Lee says:

    Thanks for all the wonderful ideas for using decorative stitches. I just got a new machine and need some coaching on using all it’s great functions.

  166. Andrea R says:

    What a great idea! I have ignored 75% of my stitch options for more than 4 years now. Good time to start playing!

  167. Danielle says:

    I have just started to use my decorative stitches. Thank you for giving me some other ideas on how to use them.

  168. Gina says:

    Makes me want to start playing with the machine and see what I can decorate!

  169. Kiki says:

    How cute! I absolutely love the decorative edge stitching on the pocket!

  170. Britt says:

    I love playing with decorative stitches especially on single quilt blocks. I will try placemats next I think

  171. Marlene says:

    I love adding decorative stitches when quilting small quilt.

  172. judi says:

    I love the tulip stitch!! I’ve been using #20 along with my edge stitch foot to finish seams for the last year or so. It works so nicely! Of course it’s not stitch #20 on my machine, lol!!

  173. Anita says:

    This is great! I’m normally a bit intimidated by my decorative stitches and I feel inspired to experiment! Thanks for the great ideas!

  174. Kristin says:

    Great use for decorative stitches. I purchased some multicolored embroidery thread on a trip to Mexico, and I can’t wait to try it out with the decorative stitches on my machine!

  175. Leah says:

    I’m so excited to read this– I literally was just reading up on the stitches on my machine and trying to learn how and when to use them!! Great timing! Better yet, I’m in the middle of a placemat project! you read my mind! thanks so much.

  176. Stacey C. says:

    What a great post! Thanks for the info–it gives me the courage I need to try these decorative stitches!

  177. Leigh says:

    I love my vintage machine, but this is one thing I do feel like I’m missing out on! Thanks for the tips!

  178. Vickie Angell says:

    What fun ideas! I love the place mats. How cool to reuse something you already have!

  179. Cheryl says:

    Cute ideas! I’ve used a decorative stitch to quilt a chicken potholder, that looked like little chicken tracks (sorry no pictures..) and I edged the bottom of a label that I made on my machine for the back of a baby quilt! (which you can see here:

    Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  180. Rachel says:

    Great ideas. My decorative stitches have been neglected and I tend to use just a few – mainly the ones you mentioned above: blanket stitch, zig zig, and straight stitch. I am now looking around for things to embellish Ò˜º thanks!

  181. Regina says:

    Awesome idea with the placemats – I have similar ones in black and white and was getting a tad bored with them.

  182. Aimee says:

    I have found that adjusting the stitch length and width can change the look of the stitches as well, giving you more to play with than just the pre-set options. I stitched a few of my favorites on some scrap fabric, noted my changes, and keep it tucked in with my manual. It’s a handy reference!

  183. Molly B. says:

    Neat! I am going to make my Mom some placemats for her birthday and I love these. I never even think of using my decorative stitches on anything! Thanks for the great ideas.

  184. Shelly says:

    Those look so fun! I have a bare bones machine with straight stitch and zig zag only, so all of these choices seem so great!

  185. Jennifer says:

    I wish I had the tulip stitch, that one would be handy on my daughters clothes. I do have a nice selection of flowers though. Thanks for the insiration:)

  186. craftytammie says:

    I wish I had a machine like that! I’ve seen so many cute projects with decorative stitching! My favorite is the little leaf stitch (#15).

  187. Lisa says:

    What fun! I was able to use some of the same decorative stitches on pot holders.

  188. Monica says:

    I love your ideas. I just wish my machine had fancy stitches. I love my old, black Singer, but sometimes the straight stitch just gets so boring. I need a little variety in my life!

  189. Hilary says:

    Thanks – your machine has much cooler stitches than my Kenmore!

  190. Sew-Ann says:

    I have a great number of stitches on my machine and have not ventured to use even 5% of them. This was a great read to get some ideas going. Bookmarking!!

  191. Jeni says:

    Now I never thought there was a stitch that made flowers for you!! I think I need to look into a bigger better sewing machine!!

  192. Karen/twinmom says:

    my inherited 1970’s Kenmore (spare machine) has tons of stitches I’ve been dying to try – but the machine needs to be repaired first. I think you just lighted a fire… Thanks!

  193. Katie B says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! I admit I just tried the zigzag stitch for the first time. Love those placemats!

  194. April says:

    Neat! I don’t have all the decorative stitches shown here (how utterly cute is that tulip?), but I have some…. I primarily use my zigzag as a decorative stitch. Guess I need to do some experimenting…

  195. Becky says:

    The tulip stitch is SO adorable! I’ve always been too afraid to try any of the fancy stitches on my old machine. But I really like the look of some of these!

  196. La Yen says:

    Thanks! I always want to use those, but now I have some ideas!

  197. Trina says:

    Very nice, but I’m still waiting for a picture of the transformers placemat. My 4 year old would be thrilled!

    Nice work!

  198. Tiffany says:

    Thanks for the rundown- I have a totally awesome Janome (a wonderful surprise Valentine’s gift from husband 3 years ago) that I used for everything, including quilting Queen-sized quilts, and it has a ton of fancy stitches. It’s actually amazing how many I’ve wound up using when I really think about it- on quilts, in projects, just because it looks more interesting… And I echo the awesomeness of the applique function on the machine- turned out half my Christmas presents that way! Never thought of the placemat idea, though, and that’s a great way to dress up some plain jane (cheap!) placemats I could get.

  199. Rebecca says:

    love these ideas! I really like the personalized placemats!

  200. Linda says:

    So many ideas…so little time. Thanks for the inspiration!

  201. Heather says:

    Thanks – I find I don’t use my decorative stitches as much as I want to – I think I may be a little intimidated that they won’t turn out right. I guess I should just give it a go.

  202. Myra says:

    Wonderful demo of how you can use the dec stitches. My Bernina doesn’t have that many, but blanket is probably the most used for appliques.

  203. Kylla says:

    My decorative stitches definitely peer hopefully at me… I’ve had my machine for years and haven’t strayed from the straight stitch. Thanks for inspiring!

  204. Lynne in NC says:

    Ooooh! what fun. I’m definitely gonna try some decorative stitches!
    Thanks for the encouragement.

  205. maryanne says:

    Great post! I haven’t really played with the decorative stitches on my machine at all, I should play around with them a little.

  206. fert says:

    You mean sewing machines sew things other than straight lines?!? I really love the purple dress with flowers πŸ™‚

  207. DebbieKL says:

    Thanks for the photo examples! I tend to use only a few of my 60+ stitches and was thinking I need to try more.

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