C&G Machine Embroidery Module 1–Chapter Four: Zigzag Stitch and Automatic Patterns

Chapter 4: Zigzag Stitch and Automatic Patterns

1. Changing Stitch Width:

Fabric: polyester crepe

Stabilizer: white felt

Foot: B (regular zigzag)

Stitch length: 3

Stitch width: 0.5 – 6

Threads: yellow, orange and blue

Rather than strictly straight lines, I stitched in a curve, following the lines of the transfer paint design. I found it difficult to change widths as I was sewing as I had to push the buttons for every change and switching from watching the curve to the button setting on the computer screen was a bit complicated. Even though the yellow thread was the brightest of the three colours, it has almost disappeared into the fabric. The completed sample barely shrank at all.


2. Changing stitch length:

Fabric: black felt

Stabilizer: 2 layers “do sew” (old pattern tracing material – perhaps Lutrador?)

Foot: B (regular zigzag)

Stitch length: 0.5 – 6

Stitch width: 4.5

Thread: same threads as sample 1 – yellow, orange and blue

The black background certainly gives a “bounce” to the thread colours compared to the pale background of the first sample. I only did a few changes in width as I stitched the lines. Some straight lines are not very straight!


3. Experiment – changing stitch length and length

Fabric: polyester crepe – transfer painted, same design as sample 1

Stabilizer: 2 layers Armo 6140

Foot: B (regular zigzag)

Stitch length: 0.5 – 6

Stitch width: 0.5 – 6

Thread colours: yellow and orange – same as sample one, blue – darker and then 8 rows of a shiny polyester variegated thread on top.

It is much more interesting to see the width and length changing throughout the sample. The yellow colour shows up on this sample when it is a “satin” stitch.




4. Automatic patterns – changing stitch width and length on some of the patterns

My sewing machine will be 13 years old this May. It is a Husqvarna Designer 1 and so has many built in automatic stitches. Two years ago, I actually sat down and stitched out a 6 inch length of every one of the patterns onto a felt like stabilizer; it took me 14 hours to do this. There are 14 “menus” for the stitches, so each menu has its own page of stitches. To make these pages into a useful resource, I hand stitched the 14 pages together along one edge to create a spine and then gave my book a cover. That was another 14 hours of hand stitching!! So now my rolled book is my stitch reference. It was very valuable to do this as some of the stitches look quite ugly in their drawings, but stitch out beautifully. I do find it difficult to change width and length as I am stitching as I have push buttons not a dial for changing settings. I tended to change the given settings and stitch the pattern in a smaller size than the programmed one, rather than changing as I sew.

a. Fabric: bridal satin, transfer painted (pinks and blue)

Stabilizer: white felt

Foot: B (regular zigzag)

Stitch length: 0.5 -6

Stitch width: 0.5 – 6

Threads: Variegated polyester (Signature size 30 –tropical brights), red violet Sulky rayon, turquoise and lime green

I used 505 spray to “attach” the satin to the felt before I started stitching. Much more control as the satin did not go its own way. Started with the variegated thread and built my colour scheme from that. Some of my lines are not very parallel! I used the D menu for all the patterns on this piece.



b. Fabric: hand dyed and batiked Kona cotton and transfer paint overdyed

Stabilizer: 5 layers nappy liners

Foot: B (regular zigzag), S foot for the extra wide stitches

Stitch length: 0.5 – 6

Stitch width: 0.5 – 9.0

Threads: lime green, dark green, purple, orange and Sulky 12 wt variegated 713-4054

I used menu E for the stitches on this sample. I have a stitch that imitates free motion stippling on this menu, so that is a very nice stitch to integrate the patterns. The fabric was quite ugly and bland before I started the stitching; it is much more interesting now.




c. Fabric: batik and hand dyed Kona cotton

Stabilizer: 2 layers Armo 6140

Foot: B (regular zigzag), S foot for the extra wide stitches

Stitch length: 0.5 – 6

Stitch width: 0.5 – 9

Threads: Mettler polysheen variegated #40 – 9978, turquoise, two shades of pale brown and a copper metallic thread.

Once again, this was not an inspiring piece of fabric, although it did have some small white circular designs from the batik – rather bubble like. So I chose patterns from menu L and menu N that had curves and circles to complement the bubbles. I drew soap lines to give myself a better guideline for straight rows – and it helped somewhat. I chose to keep the colour scheme somewhat subdued as if looking underwater at the sea weeds and bubbles. I do like the copper glints.



d. Fabric: black felt

Stabilizer: 3 layers nappy liners

Foot: B (regular zigzag)

Stitch length: 3 – 6

Stitch width: 2.5 – 6

Thread: Sulky 30 wt blendables– 733-4083, two shades of pale mauve, a purple and a red- violet.

My brain was getting tired as I stitched this last sample, so all I could think of was a geometric design. I used several menus for this sample as I was looking for geometric patterns. The first two layers were stitched with the Sulky thread. The first layer of stitching was the Greek key pattern with some variation in width and length of the stitches in some of the rows. At right angles to that is the second layer of stitches with more solid geometric patterns. The third row was stitched on the diagonal using diagonal type stitches. I used the two shades of pale mauve for this. The fourth row is the diagonal in the opposite direction using the purple and red violet. It is interesting to note how much more impact the solid satin stitch patterns have. This sample does have lots of texture for a background grid.

IMGP3125 IMGP3126




My sewing machine stitch dictionary!



It took me 14 hours to stitch out a 6 inch length of all the built in stitches on my machine…… and another 14 hours to hand stitch the binding that holds the “pages” together.   but it is a great reference as the stitches look so much different when they are stitched compared to the drawing in the instruction book.


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