Sunday, 25 September 2011

Sewing Machine Stitch Library

Teaching students how to use a sewing machine is one of the pleasure of my job. Showing them what each part of the machine can do and how to get the different stitches. They experiment with scraps of fabric trying out the stitches.
Do you get excited when discovering a stitch  on your machine?
I certainly do.
The little icon they put on the machines to represent the stitches sometimes doesn't
DSC_3017  look anything like what it does on fabric, so I create a stitch library reference book,
 this also teaches you how to use your machine.
It records the changes you can make  in  Stitch length, Stitch width & thread type. 
When using a stitch I first do a sample of that stitch, record what I did. This gives me a a clear size & finish of the stitch & if I have used a different type of thread I also do a sample.
e.g. using invisible thread on a stitch

Sometimes I am completely surprised with what the stitch will look like after your have adjusted it.
I use a plain cream coloured cotton fabric in various shades  to create sample pieces,
( I selected that because I always have plenty of creams in my stash  & makes it easy to see the stitches, you can also use calico for a cheaper option).


I also back them with a piece of cutaway stabiliser on the back of the fabric, this allows you to use just 1 piece of fabric.
The fabric then  has firmness so when I adjust the  stitches  they don't bunch up  and fabric doesn't pucker.
  I  cut them on  my Accuquilt GO because its so quick & easy  to use & makes them all the same size. I used the Go die 55019 – Square 4 3/4” which cuts 2 squares up to 6 layers in one pass through the cutter. ( 12 squares each time)

002I then draw some lines on the fabric to stitch on, I use a heat sensitive pen a blue  Pilot Fixion pen,  after I have stitched I can then  iron the lines off  leaving  just the stitches.010
On the top of each sample piece I write with a permanent pen  the type of stitches
 e.g.  Utility stitches, Decorative stitches, Quilting stitches, Embroidery stitches.
( this is how my machine manual sets them up, check your manual  for your stitch classifications )
then I underneath I use the  headings Stitch, Width & Length
Then stitch a sample of each stitch using a coloured thread so you can see each stitch clearly.
The first  row of the stitch is always  the automatic pre set in the machine
e.g.     Stitch        Width      Length
1                 0           2.5
then each row underneath is changing the width & length.
Some stitches have more options with changing the width and length  than others. I always like to do at least the smallest options & largest options.
Once I have all my stitches created,
(my Pfaff has 222 pre-set stitches not counting ones I can create & the numbers & lettering ) 
I group them together
I then  overlock the edges
after overlocking I  give each sample a press to remove the stitching lines
Then   you  bundle them up & decided on how you will keep them together
you could  save them on a clip
I like to keep them together with a ribbon.
Punch a hole in the corner with a hole punch
& thread a ribbon through the holes.
DSC_3027         DSC_3028
I keep this stitch library  with my manual of machine as well as pre-cut squares of fabric and stabiliser ready  for me to create new stitches for my projects. I can easily add to it at nay time without it talking too much time.
Whether you have just purchased your machine  or have had it a few years  you will learn something about your machine creating your own stitch library.
Have Fun creating your stitch library


  1. What a wonderful idea. Off to do this. Love my PFAFF QE4.0. Thanks for sharing this and the tips about the heat sensitive pen and stabilizer.

  2. What a great idea! I also have a pfaff and I think that has some great stitches! Have you ever tried antique quilting stitches? I have some difficulty with their. Ciao from Italy