Day 22: Different types of stitches (machine sewing)

Pin It

Today is Day 22 of 31 Days of Sewing School.

Sewing a simple straight line is probably the most common thing you will do on your sewing machine. Most projects are in fact made up of a lot of straight lines.

Sometimes you’ll need to curve your straight stitch; other times you’ll need to stop, lift your presser foot (leave the needle down) and turn your fabric to start going in a different direction. Either way, you’re still using a straight stitch.

For the times that you want your stitching to stand out, make a statement or work as a stronger reinforcement, you’ll want to get to know the other stitches your machine offers– one in particular will be used quite often.

The best non-straight utility stitch is a zig-zag. When I want to reinforce something, keep it from fraying or give it a fun look, I usually default to the zig-zag stitch. It’s not exactly a stretch stitch but I find that it also works well on somewhat stretchy fabric. The size (length and width) can be adjusted on this stitch like a straight stitch.

Some machines have a basting stitch, which is really just an elongated, spaced out straight stitch that is used to temporarily connect (baste) fabric together that will be more permanently connected later in another step. If your machine doesn’t have one, just use your controls to lengthen the stich to a longer size.

Sergers are another type of sewing machine that do a more professional overlock stitch. Look inside a knit shirt or T-shirt, or even your jeans, and you’ll see a serged seam. Some regular sewing machines have an overlock-type stitch that can be used on fabric that frays easily or is stretchy. Your machine’s owner’s manual should tell you which stitches are good for stretch.

I also really love my machine’s wavy stitch. (Sorry it’s so blurry, but you can see it above.) The wavy stitch has a slightly more decorative look to it than the zig-zag. I have a good variety of other decorative stitches on my machine that I will occasionally use as a fancy topstitch. These can also be adjusted in size.

What’s your favorite stitch to use? Or do you stick to a straight stitch? Tomorrow I’ll show you how use your straight stitch to do a basic rolled hem.

Pin It
About Nicole

Nicole can be found blogging at her lifestyle blog, and is the editor of Simple Homemade. She loves to read, sew, make ice cream, take pictures, watch baseball and go for walks by the beach with her hubby and three little kiddos. She loves anything handmade and is affectionately known as a bit of a hippie among family and friends.


  1. Robin Grant says:

    Thank you so much for this series! I am making my 3 yr old granddaughter some dress-up clothes and so your timing is perfect to refresh all that I learned at San Marcos Jr High home ec and The Stretch & Sew in Escondido so many years ago. I don’t sew much and always am excited about a project in the beginning but get frustrated as I go due to lack of polished skill. I so appreciate your series to brush me up and am enjoying my project much more. Thank You! Blessings to you and your family!

  2. When I was in a class a couple of years ago they said don’t pay attention to where the needle goes but to aligning the fabric to the lines on the throat plate. Much like when you drive you don’t pay attention to where the wheels are but where the road ahead is. It made the world of difference for me!

  3. Nice to be here and see your post!


  1. [...] Sew the pennant pieces together by starting at one top corner, sewing with a straight stitch (or choose a fun stitch, like zig-zag) down one side, pivoting at the bottom point, and sewing back up the other side. You can back [...]

  2. How To Make A Website…

    Day 22: Different types of stitches (machine sewing)…

  3. How To Create A Forum…

    Day 22: Different types of stitches (machine sewing)…

Share Your Thoughts


CommentLuv badge