How To Use Decorative Stitches On Sewing Machine

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Last Updated on 1 year by Susan Mayrich

You can learn how to use decorative stitches on sewing machine in five steps. This article will teach you how to set and make adjustments while sewing to get perfect decorative stitches. 

how to use decorative stitches on sewing machine

Furthermore, we’ll help you determine which stitch to use by making a sampler and how to combine stitches. And of course, this article includes the various decorative stitch types to familiarize sewers.

A stitch that is sometimes used for decorative purposes is the topstitch. Therefore, consider learning how to topstitch with a sewing machine if you want to add interest to your project’s edges. 


How To Make Decorative Stitches On Sewing Machine


Step 1. Prepare the fabric

  • Stabilize the fabric with a starch spray or tear-away stabilizer to ensure that it can handle the thread volume used by decorative stitches that can lead to puckering
  • When using a stabilizer sheet, cut it into strips and pin along the area accordingly to ensure that it can stiffen the material perfectly
  • Consider washing the fabric before sewing so it can pre-shrink before you start making decorative stitches

Read this tutorial on how to prewash fabric for sewing for more details.


Step 2. Sew slowly

  • Replace the presser foot with the proper attachment, such as the satin stitch foot 
  • Set the sewing machine according to the manual
  • Sew slowly for precise stitches since the needle will cover more ground with this type of stitch
  • Mark a guideline on the fabric to keep the stitches straight  
  • Start sewing on a piece of scrap fabric to know what adjustments to make with the settings

We wrote how to use sewing machine attachments if you’re still unfamiliar with various presser feet. 


Step 3. Make adjustments

  • Make the adjustments, especially with the presser foot, since its center part dictates where the center of every stitch will be made
  • Adjust the stitch width, length, or even thread tension when your decorative stitches are not looking like your expectation


Step 4. Know what to use

  • Make a stitch sampler to see what the decorative stitches should look like before doing them directly on your project 
  • Draw parallel lines on the fabric an inch apart so you can position the various decorative stitches neatly
  • Stabilize the fabric so it won’t pucker with the amount of thread
  • Sew on the fabric lines and mount the sampler for reference


Step 5. Experiment

  • Use the sampler and combine various stitches to know which will look good on your project
  • Remember the settings you’ve used for each one, including the thread and needle


Types Of Decorative Stitches


Chain stitch

The chain stitch is often used to fill large shapes. To do it, you start from the top of the line and bring the thread out to the front of the fabric. 

Insert the needle into the material while holding the thread and bring it out at a short distance. Next, pull the needle through and work the thread under it to create a loop.

Then, insert the needle inside the loop to begin the next stitch.


Cable stitch

The cable stitch is a useful decorative stitch when working on woven materials. One can also consider this stitch a type of embroidery, where the result is a textured design, often used as the centerpiece. 

You work the cable stitch left to right, alternating the position of the thread. For example, insert the needle to the line, bring it out halfway to the left with the thread below the needle, and work the next stitch with the thread above the needle. 


Chevron stitch

The chevron stitch is reminiscent of the herringbone stitch, but the diagonal lines don’t cross. It’s common in hand embroidery to add interest to the seams. 


Herringbone stitch

The herringbone stitch is worked left to right along two parallel lines, commonly seen in hems and seams. It is so-called because it looks like the bones of the fish.  


French knot

One of the easiest decorative stitches is the French knot. Because it’s essentially a knot, it’s commonly used as the center of stitched flowers. 

You’ll only wind the thread several times around the needle. Then, draw the needle back to where it comes from the material to make a French knot. 


What Are The Uses Of Decorative Stitches?


Visual interest 

From the name itself, you use decorative stitches to decorate sewing projects. They add variety and visual interest to the plain material. 

You can also add texture to the fabric with decorative stitches. However, other common stitches can be considered decorative, such as the blanket stitch and the straight stitch. 


Bindings and applique

You can attach bindings and appliques with decorative stitches. It’s a quick alternative to hand stitching them while also adding some style. 

You can even finish the edges of appliques the same way you’ll finish seams and hems with decorative stitches. 


Stitch in the ditch alternative

It’s relatively easy to learn how to stitch in the ditch with a sewing machine. However, you can still prevent distortion and stabilize your material while adding interest with a decorative stitch. 



And that’s it! We just learned how to use decorative stitches on sewing machine and discovered it’s not that different from regular sewing. 

You can have decorative stitches on seams, a decorative centerpiece, or even attach appliques and bindings. Just remember to practice sewing on a scrap cloth to know what adjustments to make. 


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