Our first decorative stitches article gave some tips for success when sewing with decorative stitches. Part Duex is designed to get your creative sparks flying with some specific stitches and applications.
Looking at the little pictures of the decorative stitches on your machine is very exciting, but to really get a good idea of what they look like, you need to stitch them out. It's worth it to take a little time to create a stitch sampler that shows each stitch. This way, when you're thinking about adding a stitch to a specific project, you have a clear idea of how it might fit in with your design. To make a sampler, simply take a piece of fabric and use contrasting thread to sew about a 7" - 8" line of each stitch style.
Another consideration when using decorative stitches is stabilizer. Depending on the type of fabric you're using, or the layers of fabric you're sewing through, you may need to stabilize the fabric to get the best results with your stitching. The best way to decide if you need stabilizer is to test a row of stitches on a scrap of the fabric you are planning to use. If the stitches bunch or pull the fabric, add a layer of stabilizer beneath the fabric when you are stitching. You can read more about stabilizer in this very informative article from our Monogram Week.
Enough about rules ... let's talk about the fun things you can make!
One of the most popular uses for decorative stitches is appliqué. Nearly any machine that offers decorative stitches contains at least one you can use for this technique. These are simple stitches, which are used to hide the seam between the background fabric and the applique (while attaching the appliqué at the same time).
One easy-to-use and versatile stitch is the Herringbone. The Herringbone is perfect for appliqué, because it has an extension on either side of the stitch – perfect for holding two pieces of fabric together.
Another standard for appliqué is the Blanket stitch. Place the straight edge of this stitch along the perimeter of the appliqué, and allow the arms of the stitch to extend into the background fabric of the appliqué. This creates a wonderful look and a secure frame for the piece.
Finally, the Satin stitch, which is a dense zig zag, is a classic for appliqué. Some machines have unique versions of the traditional Satin stitch, such as those shown below. However, any machine that has a zig zag option can create a satin stitch; just make the stitch length as short as possible.
We've had several projects on Sew4Home that show you how to take a plain ready-made item and kick it up to custom with a simple ribbon embellishment. Now ... how about customizing the ribbon itself? You'll want to keep a couple of things in mind when doing this. First, use a stable ribbon, like a grosgrain or satin for embellishing; a sheer ribbon is not suitable since it may fray. Also, depending on the width and color of the ribbon or the effect you are hoping to achieve, it may look better if you sew the ribbon in place, after customizing with decorative stitches, using monofilament or invisible thread. This way, your eye is focused on the line of decorative stitching not on the plain stitching that attaches the ribbon. For some projects, you may be able to stitch the ribbon in place WHILE sewing the decorative stitches. It all depends on where you are positioning the ribbon and your comfort level working with multiple layers.
Janome offers two great accessories for sewing with ribbon. The first will help you to add the stitches to the ribbon, the Ribbon Sewing Guide. This guide allows you to run the ribbon through a feed, so the decorative stitches are perfectly positioned on the ribbon. You can use this to decorate ribbon up to 1" wide. Love this!
Once you are ready to attach the ribbon to your fabric, use the Ribbon/Sequin Foot. This is a very handy tool for stitching the ribbon in place. It has special guides that hold your ribbon in place and feed it evenly as you stitch. Must have!
Scrapbooking and Card Making
Personalized greeting cards add a special touch to correspondence. Adding stitching to your personalization is special-squared, and will cause your recipient to reflect, "Wow, she can do it all!"
The most important consideration when choosing a decorative stitch for sewing on paper is to find one that is not too dense. You don't want to sew with a super tight satin stitch because you could end up sewing right through the paper. A plainer stitch makes fewer perforations. And really, you don't need anything ultra fancy. The fact that you've sewn onto a card is amazing in and of itself. Something as simple as a zig zag stitch becomes an elegant embellishment on paper. A straight stitch using a decorative or metallic thread is also a great choice on paper. Play with your stitches, and see what works.
A simple line of decorative stitches can really make your project stand out. To create decorative trim, mark a line with a pencil or sewing pen so you have a nice, straight line to follow with your stitching. Choose a thread color to either accent or contrast with your fabric. Then choose the stitch. So very easy, but it achieves a great effect!
Decorative Stitch Combinations
So you're sold on how cool and useful decorative stitches can be. But wait, there's more! Did you know some machines can actually customize the repetition of decorative stitches? Certain machines (in the Janome line, they are generally referred to as Memory Craft models) can memorize stitch combinations, save them into a built-in memory bank in the machine, and sew them out on command. Let's say you're throwing a poker party for your friends, and you want to make really cute cocktail napkins for the event. I programmed my Memory Craft 6500 to stitch this combination of heart, spade, diamond and clubs. If you really love sewing with decorative stitches, this combining feature is something you need.