Jill’s November Challenge – Built-in Machine Stitches

I have had my machine for 11 years I have NEVER used one machine stitch other that the basic zig zag, straight, stretch and so on. I didn’t really have a project in mind for this challenge so I just stitched out a little sample of what these stitches actually looked like.

Here they are. They are quite thin and the one design, it’s a leaf design which is more dense than the other ones just bunched up under the needle and I got a huge thread ball on the other side.


The fabric also puckers, so I’m thinking I might need a stabilizer of some sort. I’m not sure if I would ever use these, they are so thin. Might look good on a hanky or something.

I think what this has taught me is when buying my next machine I don’t think I’ll be at all swayed by how many built in stitches it has. I think if I really wanted to do this I would move into a embroidery machine. Which I think would be pretty awesome.

What about you, do you use your built in stitches?




  1. Love this blog’s November challenge!! While its hard to find a place for built in decorative stitches in a decent project, I did use one of them in a successful item years ago (the 90s). I made a loose, boxy ecru linen top, and used one of the decorative stitches on my Bernina 1230 (then new, now old) with a wing needle. I loved the discreet, modern hem stitching it created at the sleeve edges and the neckline (without looking like old style heirloom stitching). I wore that top to shreds. But there are many stitches on the old machine I have yet to stitch; I say it’s nice to have those stitches, just in case I need them some day 🙂

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  2. I have to say, having entered Bernina World this year (Bernina USA has loaned me a machine for my vintage projects) I’m floored by how much versatility the modern stitches give you, in combination with the feet. On my last project, the overlock stitch and foot sewed seams on a knit that looked like a serger had made them, and the bulky overlock foot and overlock stitch gave me yards of piping and ties in a hurry. I’m a believer!


  3. I have used some of the stitches in my machine but certainly not all of them. I have an embroidery unit on the machine and I have only twice actually made something with it. I bought an entry level machine to see if I would use the embroidery portion very much. I’m ashamed to say that was 8 years ago and it hasn’t gotten much use! But, this year I decided I would stitch out each design that came with my machine so that I could experience all the problems that would certainly come up, and learn from this. I’m about halfway done with the designs. It’s been fun, and they will go into a notebook when I’m done. Then, I need to make myself start using the unit!

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  4. Whenever you acquire a machine new to you, you should make a stitch bible. I use stabilizer, cut my ‘pages’ to the size of scrapbook pages and keep them in a scrapbook album. Stitch up samples using different stitch lengths, widths, and if you’re really ambitious, different threads. Use a permanent pen to note and identify the settings on each sample. It makes a great reference tool and will give you ideas of how you might use some of those stitches. There is a fairly new book ‘Super Stitches Sewing: A Complete Guide to Machine-Sewing and Hand-Stitching Techniques’ that shows many of the stitches and provides great info about each. There are also some hand stitches in the book.

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  5. My machine has one decorative stitch which never has been used. Its tough to resist the fancy machines though and buy what you really need. Kudos to gals like Lynn who have them and actually use them.
    I keep meaning to sew up a sampler of my stitches so I know how to use them just in case.

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  6. My Pfaff also made that little ball of jumbled threads! And yep, you do need some kind of stabilizer for most of these decorative stitches. I’m with you: I won’t be swayed by the number of decorative stitches on my machine because I just don’t use them!

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  7. That top one is great when hemming a knit, Jilly. I use one like that a lot and it gives an interesting treatment to an otherwise plain T or fashion T.

    The other ones are so pretty and delicate. I would use them around a neck opening.

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