Zip Zip Purse by Rebecca Kemp Brent.
Circuit Scarf by Kevin Kosbab.
Getting Stitchy With It
Sometimes it's fun to think of your machine as a drawing tool and use machine stitching as a design element. All you need is a walking foot, and you are off and running. Even simple contrast topstitching or machine quilting can add texture and graphic appeal to a project. And the best part is that you can incorporate it into any project, from accessories and toys to quilts and clothing. Whether you choose to use a little or a lot, you have lots of fun options for how to incorporate stitching into your next project.
For example, the Paper Shredder Quilt by Kevin Kosbab uses machine quilting to great allover effect by highlighting the angular piecing in his design by stitching crisscrossing lines on his quilt top. He extended each line across the entire quilt top at random angles, then pivoted at the edges to continue in a different direction. While Kevin did his stitching freehand, to ensure straight lines every time, you can sew along the edge of masking tape adhered to the quilt top.
Sometimes a little bit of machine stitching goes a long way as seen in the Zip Zip Purse by Rebecca Kemp Brent. On the peek-a-boo insert, Rebecca alternated between straight and zigzag stitches in each row, with the zigzagged areas randomly offset from row to row. Alternatively, you could feature some of those fancy decorative stitches programmed into your machine. If you use a denser stitch pattern, use a layer of tear-away stabilizer under the interfaced fabric (remove the excess stabilizer after stitching). Rebecca also sewed a decorative stitch pattern centered over the edge of the zipper tapes. This allowed the stitching to extend onto the sides of the purse, echoing the lines of the exposed zipper.
Try adding some dimension to your machine stitching by using a couching effect as shown in the Circuit Scarf by Kevin Kosbab. Couching is a technique for tacking down one or more laid threads or fibers onto a fabric background, which gives you a raised effect. Kevin couched lines of worsted-weight green wool yarn along the length of his scarf to echo the look of circuit boards on his geek-chic scarf. Use a cording foot to couch the yarn, or a narrow hem foot can be used, running the yarn through the curl of the foot. To achieve this same effect, mark your stitch lines and set your machine for a zigzag stitch 3 mm long and slightly wider than the yarn. Thread the needle with clear monofilament and fill the bobbin with thread that matches the background fabric. Couch the yarn to the fabric along the stitch guidelines. Sew slowly to make sure the needle falls just to either side of the yarn. Lower the needle thread tension if loops of bobbin thread appear on the fabric or if the yarn is flattened by the top thread.
See how much you can do with thread! Check out the full instructions on these three projects in the Fall issue of Stitch and get inspired to be creative with machine stitching in your next project. I guarantee that once you start experimenting with thread, you'll be hooked!