Surprising Sewing Machine Stitches for Your Quilts

Playing with your pre-programmed sewing machine stitches can be a wonderful way to spend a rainy afternoon. The plethora of stitches on some machines could keep you busy for hours–but what about some of the utilitarian stitches we all know and love?

I was able to complete this quilt quickly using a serpentine stitch
created by playing with my sewing machine stitches.

If you shorten a zigzag stitch length and increase its width, it becomes a lovely satin stitch that can outline a shape or bind a small art quilt. Playing with the size and scale of the blanket stitch makes it either more or less noticeable when used in appliqué.

I've found you really have to experiment with these stitches to make sure they do what you want them to do.

A great example is the #4 stitch on my Bernina®. I don't know its name, but this stitch, when lengthened to a 2 or 2.5, becomes a beautiful serpentine without increasing the length of the stitch so much that it is a "toe catcher" when used as a quilting stitch.

After experimenting a while with this serpentine stitch, I used it to finish a baby quilt pieced from a lively charm pack in no time. One UFO crossed off my list!

Why not take some time to experiment with your sewing machine stitches. You might find the perfect stitch for your next quilting project. 

Alexandra Ledgerwood using serpentine quilting, straight-line quilting, and other simple quilting stitches to enhance her quilts.

You can learn improvisational piecing and simple quilting techniques in her new book, Improvising Tradition: 18 Quilted Projects Using Strips, Slices, and Strata. Be sure to check it out!

P.S. Have you created a quilting stitch from your sewing machine utility stitches? Which one(s) have you used? Tell us in the comments below.


Other topics you may enjoy:


Quilting Daily Blog, Sewing Techniques

2 thoughts on “Surprising Sewing Machine Stitches for Your Quilts

  1. Hi, a while back I made a kaleidoscope (stack & whack) quilt that I really like. It sat around for quite some time while I decided the best way to quilt it, as there are SO many ditches. Then I read somewhere about using the serpentine stitch on a baby quilt, and I had a light bulb moment. The serpentine was perfect – it looks great, giving the “ditches” a bit of character, and also helps the centres sit flat where there is quite a bit of bulk. It even looks really good on my pieced back, making a lovely double sided quilt.