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

I simply *love* using the programmed decorative stitches on my sewing machine as a way to embellish my sewing projects and also for functional purposes. But do you sometimes find it a struggle to come up with ideas on how to use them?

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

And for troubleshooting problems when sewing decorative machine stitches, be sure to check out my article – Tips for using decorative machine stitches.

1. Stitch in the ditch
Instead of using a straight stitch when stitching “in-the-ditch” on your quilts, try using a decorative stitch instead. This example is sewn using a metallic thread to add a bit of glam and glitter.

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine stitches

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine 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.

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine stitches

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine stitches

3. Couching
Use a decorative stitch instead of a standard zig-zag or straight stitch when couching decorative fibers or ribbon.

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine stitches

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine stitches

4. Machine lace fabric

Use decorative stitches to make fabulous contemporary lace.

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine stitches

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine 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.

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine stitches

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine 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.

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine stitches

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine stitches

7. Raw edge applique

Use decorative stitches to finish off the edges of raw edge applique designs.

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine stitches

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine 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.

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine stitches

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine stitches

9. Focus fabric from ribbon or fabric strips

Make focus fabric by placing strips of ribbon or fabric side by side on some fusible interfacing and use a decorative stitch to sew the strips together.

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine stitches

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine stitches

10. Machine lace edging

Use decorative stitches to make delicate and contemporary machine lace that can be used for edging and trim.

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine stitches

Ten creative ways to use decorative machine stitches

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.

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Exploring Decorative Machine Stitches

Categories: Fabric and Thread, Inspiration, Sew Creative, Tutorials
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13 Comments

  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????

    Reply
  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

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

    Reply
  4. Thanks everyone, have fun exploring :)

    Reply
  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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Reply
  10. How do you keep the stitches from puckering?

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

      Reply

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