Ten creative ways to use the decorative stitches on your sewing machine

Posted by Linda Matthews on June 18, 2013

I simply *love* using the programmed decorative stitches on my sewing machine, but I know that some of you struggle to come up with ideas on how to use them.

Struggle no more! These creative ideas are sure to inspire.

1. Stitch in the ditch
Instead of a straight stitch, use a decorative stitch instead when stitching “in-the-ditch” on your quilts.
Decorative Stitches

Decorative Stitches

2. Bindings
Instead of hand sewing the bindings on your quilts, a decorative stitch can be a super quick and interesting way to sew down your bindings.

Decorative Stitches

Decorative Stitches

3. Couching
Instead of a standard zig-zag or straight stitch when couching decorative fibers or ribbon, add additional embellishment by using a decorative stitch.

Decorative Stitches

Decorative Stitches

4. Machine lace fabric
Decorative Stitches

Decorative Stitches

5. Surface texture and decoration
Use decorative stitches to add surface texture and decoration to your fabric. For example, I often use them when making fabric beads. (Free tutorial here)

Decorative Stitches

Decorative Stitches

6. Faux ribbon effect
By adding a couple of narrow rows of straight stitch on either side of a decorative stitch, you can quickly make a faux ribbon effect.

Decorative Stitches

Decorative Stitches

7. Raw edge applique
Use your decorative stitches to finish off the edges of raw edge appliques.

Decorative Stitches

Decorative Stitches

8. Decorative top-stitching
Use decorative stitches to embellish or top-stitch. For example, I’ve used them to top-stitch the pleats on this pleated insert used on art quilt.

Decorative Stitches

Decorative Stitches

9. Focus fabric from ribbon or fabric strips
Make focus fabric by placing strips of ribbon or fabric side by side (I love hand dyed ribbon for this technique) and use a decorative stitch to sew the strips together.

Decorative Stitches

Decorative Stitches

10. Machine lace edging
Use your decorative stitches to make delicate and contemporary machine lace edging. (Free tutorial here)

Decorative Stitches

Decorative Stitches

Did I mention once or ten times that I *love* to use the decorative stitches on my sewing machine?

I could add more, but I’ve run out of time. However I’m sure this is more than enough to get you started using your decorative stitches and once you start using them, you’ll probably come up with dozens more ideas.

And here’s a bonus if you love to sew with decorative stitches …

Download and enjoy my FREE Dancing Hearts Quilt Pattern which I designed specifically for using your decorative stitches. You can find the pattern here, together with some helpful hints for using your decorative stitches.

Free Pattern for using the Decorative Stitches on your Sewing Machine

Exploring Decorative Machine Stitches

Categories: Fabric and Thread, Inspiration
Tags: , ,

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  1. HI Linda

    This is a great post, thanks. The only suggestion that didn’t appeal to me was sewing the binding down with a fancy stitch. All the others are fantastic. Now, will I remember where this post is when I need it????

  2. Wow Linda I’ve been wondering how to incorporate all my fancy machine stitching into my crafts. This has really inspired me and can’t wait to start something this weekend. many thanks I really enjoy reading your posts – so inspiring. thank you. Sam

  3. Very good post. I forget about those stitches and you’ve given us lots of ideas!

  4. Thanks everyone, have fun exploring :)

  5. I love your use of decorative stitches for your ‘in the ditch’ quilting. It adds such a dimension to the work rather than simply holding the layers of the quilt together. A great post.

    • Thanks Sarah, I hope you can use some of these ideas :)

  6. Great ideas! What wonderful and beautiful things you’ve made using these stitches too. Thank you.

  7. These are great ideas. I’ll use several of them now as I work on my art quilt. Thanks Linda.

  8. Great ideas, all of them. I usually forget all about my decorative stitches. I will have to rethink it. Thanks for sharing.

  9. How can I purchase a dot stitch sewing machine. By the way, what is this machine called? Thank you

    • Hi John, I’m sorry but I don’t know what sort of machine that is. The machine I use is a Janome 6500P.

  10. How do you keep the stitches from puckering?

    • Hi Pam, You can use a stabilizer underneath the fabric to prevent puckering.

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