“Pointers for Decorative Stitches”

As I have said many times before, I love decorative stitches!  Embellishment just works for me.  Over the years, because I enjoyed using decorative stitches in so many of my projects, I quickly grew weary of only stitching in straight lines.  Whenever I chose to use my decorative stitches in some other way other than in straight lines though, my project seemed to take on that, “Bless your heart, you made that yourself, didn’t you?” look.  No one needs that!  So I decided to start practicing; specifically, left and right 90 degree corners and decorative stitches along gentle curves.  If you do not already possess these skills, I hope you will start your own practice habit.

Practice lines on my fabric for right angles and gentle curves. The curve is a 3mm curve.

This is what I know: 

1.  When stitching with decorative stitches, always work with the needle in the “down” position when you stop sewing.  This will allow you to always keep your needle exactly where you left off so when you change sewing direction, the stitch does not get distorted by the needle or by the fabric moving unexpectedly. 

2. Use the marks on your presser foot to help you keep the alignment you want for your stitch.  You may find it helpful to slow down the speed of your machine to facilitate accuracy.

Here I am lining up the red middle guide mark on the foot with the drawn line on my fabric.

3.  Use the foot controller and not the “Stop/Start” feature (if your machine has this).  You will have much more control when using the foot controller.

4.  Choose stitches that naturally fit into the shape you want them to create.  Stitches with a lot of backwards motion have a hard time following curves, for example. 

I chose a stitch for the curve and then used the side to side mirror image function.
Lining the foot up for the decorative stitches on a curve. The middle mark is not my best option here, so I chose to follow the left foot marking.

5.  When using satin stitches for right angles, where the needle stops is very important.  When your angle goes off to your left, the needle needs to stop in the down position on your right inside the foot before making the turn.  When your angle goes to your right, the needle needs to stop in the down position on your left inside the foot before making the turn.  With practice, these specific needle stops will yield perfect right angles.  Also, in order to maintain a right angle and keep your presser foot lined up correctly, you will need to sew past the line you are going to sew next.  In other words, when coming to the corner, sew past it a couple stitches until the presser foot guideline you have been using lines up perfectly with the line you are going to sew next.

The needle is now set to turn the corner and sew to my left, down the next line.
The needle is now set to turn the corner going to my right.
The finished practice exercises. Remember to use stabilizer on the back of your fabric and the presser foot meant for decorative stitches for best results.

6. The most important thing to remember is to breathe and have fun!