Simply Sewing with Laura, Episode Five “Stitches”


Welcome to Simply Sewing with Laura. Simply Sewing videos are put out the first Tuesday of each month. Here we learn all about the basics of sewing, but we have the bonus of the time-tested tips and techniques to help us along the way. Today let’s talk about stitches. The two stitches that are used the most are a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch. There can be different variations of the straight stitch. For example, you will go two forward and one reverse. The same is true of zigzag. You can change that zigzag in many different ways. Different machines are going to have different stitches. You get to them in a few different ways. Some machines are going to be as simple as pushing a button. Other machines have knobs that you need to change. Turning that knob is going to change the stitch. We can also change the stitch length and width. Again, some are going to be as simple as pushing buttons and others will be turning knobs. These adjustments are usually made on the front of the machine, however, there are some that you make the adjustments up at the top. It’s very convenient that the stitches are labeled and they’re usually labeled with pictures, but that picture sometimes is just not enough to understand truly how that stitch looks and what it can do. So let’s take a look at doing those stitches and talk about width and length. The length of the stitch means how large those stitches are going to be. Are they very tiny being stitched together, or are they big stitches apart? The width is referring to how wide the stitch is going. That length is running along this direction. Doesn’t matter how small or how large the stitches are, they’re always going to be running down the machine. The width goes across the machine in this direction. It won’t matter if those stitches are really, really tiny or really really big; the width is always going to be going in this direction. Let’s start with a straight stitch and change those stitch lengths so we can see what our machine is capable of doing. Whether you’re a beginning to sew or you have a new machine or you’re trying to get to know your machine better, it’s great to have a system to organize your notes and to organize your stitches. I like to start with a very large binder. This happens to be a binder that has those pages that we can put photographs in. I like to be able to use these individual slots for notes. You can also get sleeves that are designed for hockey cards. They have smaller little pockets in them, but I like to have whatever I’m doing in a nice, fat binder. That way I can add in some information that I need. I can add just pages on their own, or I can add in these clear sleeve protectors and put different things in them. In this case I was able to put in: My machine manual, notes that I’ve been making as I go along, things that I’ve been able to print out or handouts that I get in classes, photocopies for my manual. These I might refer to often and that way I don’t have to flip through my manual all the time. They’re right here. Another good practice is to photocopy the front of your patterns and then make notes on these papers. For example, this is a pattern that I go to all the time. it has a shirt, a wrap skirt, and a tank top. These are basics that I like to have in my wardrobe. I make notes on the photocopy and the pattern pieces so that at a glance I know what I have done. I also like to put my samples of fabrics on pieces of paper and keep them right with that. I know what fabric I used and I can make notes of what I’ve done. These fabric samples I have on little pieces of paper that I’ve printed out. I’ll put a link in the description and you’re more than welcome to use this. I call them “What did I do cards.” I have information along the side. I can fill out all of these spots: What foot did I use? What was my thread, my stitch number, width, length, and notes. I’ve cut them out and they fit right inside this little binder where the photographs would go. I have a whole pile cut and ready to use as I need them. Between the notes on my cards and the notes on my pattern pieces, it saves me a lot of time when I want to go back and make this. This can all go inside the sleeve protectors. It’s kind of fun to have this and you’ll see what you have made over the years of your sewing. Another thing to do, and this is what I want to focus on today, is making these little fabric samples. I like to use a fabric that’s a little bit firmer. In this case I’ve used a white twill. You can do twill, a lightweight canvas, even a lightweight denim. You need to have a fabric that’s not going to stretch. I’ve cut out my pages the same size as the photo sleeve. I have a nice stack of them. I’ve taken time to draw lines on them and I have labeled all of my stitches. I’ve gone through and I’ve labeled all of these to get ready to test my machine. To do these little test samples get a universal needle. A 90/14 will work out fine. And any thread you want will be the thread to use. If you have a collection of threads you can also use up your threads on your bobbins by testing. The first stitch I’m going to do is that straight stitch. I’m going to change the length. If you think about it, the length is going as long as you want. The width is going to be dictated by your machine. Put on a foot that has an opening that you can do the largest zigzag in. Make sure that the plate also has that opening for the needle to go back and forth. From here let’s choose the straight stitch. in my case, it’s a simple push of the button 1. The screen on the Bernina Red has the stitch width along the top and the stitch length running along the side, which is really the direction it’s going. We want the width and the length. The machine sets the stitches at a standard length. The first stitch I want to do is what the machine is already preset for. The first stitch I’m going to do right on top of my label, and that way I will know that’s my machine setting and the other ones are going to be adjustments. Be sure to place your foot down and make sure you have your threads out of the way, then put your needle into the fabric. I’m just going to stitch following one of the lines that I drew on that fabric. It won’t matter how fast or slow you sew; it’s going to do the same stitch length. From here make sure the needle is up and remove the fabric. I can now see exactly what the machine setting is for that straight stitch. Another thing you might find interesting to do is draw one-inch marks and then count how many stitches are between the marks. The stitch length is always determined by how many stitches per inch. The settings often reflect that, so having that inch mark is just another good reference. Let’s change the stitch length. To change my length I have arrows up and down. If you go to zero, the machine is not going to move. That stitch is just going to stay in the same spot. So let’s start with the next stitch closest to the zero. The lower it is, the tinier those stitches are going to be. Move it up again another notch. Stitch enough that you can do that one-inch mark. I’m going to continue to follow these lines, adjusting that length. The bigger the number, the bigger that stitch will be. The last one I’m going to do is the largest one that my machine is capable of doing. Once I’ve finished all my stitching I just trim off my threads and I’m able to make my notes. I’ve drawn my one-inch marks throughout my sample line. I’ve put the stitch length. In this case, it is 4 so I wrote 4L. I’ve counted how many stitches are between the marks. This sample is going to be very easy to refer back to. When this is done I’m going to slide that into the pocket where the photographs are supposed to go. The next one I can work on is the number 2 stitch which in my case is the zigzag. I have my number 2 stitch and I’m going to adjust the length 𝘢𝘯𝘥 the width as I go along. But the first row I’m going to do is what the machine is set up for. That first row is done. If I start on width 0, the zigzag is going to be so narrow it’s only going to look like a straight stitch. My length is still the same but you’re not going to notice the needle going back and forth because I’ve taken that and have set it to zero so there is no width. So let’s just make this a little bit wider. The width set at 1 and you’ll notice that zigzag is small. You can see the needle going back and forth but it’s very minimal. That 1 width is just this tiny little zigzag. Before I do any more adjustments I’m going to write right here on the fabric the setting on the machine. The widest width on my machine is 5.5. You will see the big difference between 1 and the 5.5. 5.5 is covering a larger space. Let’s change the length to 0.1 and leave the width the same. We still have that 5.5 width going back and forth, but the length is so small we end up with this very very tight stitch. Let’s turn the length up to 0.5 so our length is a little bit longer. We have the same width; we now are adjusting length. From 0.1 to 0.5 has given us quite a big difference. Let’s turn it up so that the stitch width is still at 5.5, but we’re going to do the length also at 5.5. We can see that that width is the same but the length has definitely made a big difference. So one very simple stitch can look quite different depending on the width and the length. Having these sample cards really show you the difference of what one stitch can do. So continue to adjust the width and the length and make notes on your fabrics as to what they are. This is a great way to test the different stitches on your machine. Changing the length and the width makes a lot of difference for each individual stitch. In my binder I’ll have all of these notes and samples. At a glance I’m going to be able to check out any of the stitches that I need on my machine. You can continue and fill all of these pockets up with samples. When you start off with a new project, we always want to test that fabric to the machine stitches that we want to use. That’s the time to insert these in here and make notes. After a while you’re going to have a good collection that you’re going to be able to refer back to. Sewing is a lot of fun to do but knowing what your machine 𝘤𝘢𝘯 do makes sewing so much more fun. Thank you for joining me today on Simply Sewing. Be sure to come back next month and see what we’re sewing next time
in the sewing room. Bye for now!