Stitch Identification, or What Does This One Do?

When I was writing Stitch by Stitch, I really wanted to focus on the struggles I see the most in folks who come through our classes.  No matter what the sewing background–someone who took Home Ec so long ago they feel like they’ve forgotten most of it; someone who learned from her mom and wasn’t really all that into it then, but now she’s kicking herself; someone who’s brand-new to sewing and has never even touched a machine before; someone who has learned alone from the web or from books, and is worried that the subtle nuances and foundational facts might’ve been overlooked along the way–the most common complaint I hear is that we’re all  looking to make sure we’ve got the core skills, the foundational techniques, nailed down so we can really see how far our sewing will take us.

One of the things I see the most is the total paralysis a lot of us get when we’re confronted with the various stitches on the machine.  When I very first learned to sew, my machine made a straight stitch and a zigzag.  That was it.  Not even a buttonhole function (alas).  So when I moved up to my next machine, I was suddenly confronted with piles of stitch options, and I had no idea which ones did what or when to use them.  You know which ones I used?  You got it: the straight stitch and the zigzag.  And all those other little buttons just went to waste.

I want better than that for all of us.  I spent some serious time with my owner’s manual investigating what it had to say about each stitch.  I’ve learned over time that some manuals give more details than others, so I combed through reference books and various sites on the Web to fill in gaps, and I’m delighted to present you with:

A Stitch Identification Primer.

Get the flash player here:

Flip through the slideshow to see details on each of the stitches shown above on the sampler (the stitch sampler itself is one of the bonus mini-projects included in Stitch by Stitch).  Because these are images of lines of stitching, a number of photos will extend beyond the frame–just grab them with your mouse and shift to see all the details and text, since I’ve included facts and suggestions for using each one!  Larger images can be seen on Flickr.

Happy stitching, y’all.

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  • Kimberly
    August 16, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Very helpful, thank you! I also have to add that I love your handwritting!

  • beverly from Green Gracie Home
    August 16, 2010 at 11:10 am

    What a wonderful reference! I find myself using 4 or 5 stitches out of uhmm, 100…thanks for motivating me!

  • Tweets that mention Stitch Identification, or What Does This One Do? — Whipstitch --
    August 16, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Deborah Moebes and Sally Keller, jenni20 designs. jenni20 designs said: RT @whipstitch: Today: a stitch identification primer, so you can finally use all those fancy stitches on your machine! […]

  • Shannon
    August 17, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Ummm, can we say fabulous??

  • Sue
    August 18, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Wow! Thanks, this is really helpful. I have only used the straight and zig zag stitch – I will be branching out!

  • Marzipan
    September 19, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Thank you for this! I knew what to use an overcast stitch for, but I didn’t know what it was CALLED, and since I do video tutorials, well, I really needed to know. Thanks for the info, the photos are great!

  • Dana Goodman
    October 23, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    I really need something like this! I was so excited when I saw it on pinterest. But I can’t get it to work and it says I need a password to get onto flicker. If you could help I would be very appreciative!

  • Terrie
    May 6, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this fabulous tool! My huskystar manual only covers the very minimal basics…nothing about the myriad of stitches that might not be used on a daily basis.

  • Melanie's Menagerie
    June 24, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Hello! Seeing this on Pinterest brought me to your site! Guess I’m gonna sign up for the email. 🙂

    • Deborah
      June 25, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      Oh, I’m so glad! Welcome, and hope it helped you out! 🙂

  • Randall Huner
    August 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Magnificent site! Plenty of helpful information here. I was looking for this.Thanks for sharing!

  • Bags for All « Nothing But Time
    February 2, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    […] fabric), line up the pocket in the center and sew into place using a double overcast stitch. (See stitch guide if needed.) With your pocket firmly sewed onto the outer fabric piece, mark the spot for the other […]

  • Heather Reid
    March 11, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Thank you so much for this! I am trying to teach myself to sew and this reference is invaluable. I have learned so much just from reading this!

  • Rhonda Dunn
    August 21, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Would love to view via IPAD, any chance you will put on something besides adobe? Thanks

    • Deborah
      August 21, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      If you click the image slideshow, it will lead you to the Flickr album for these photos, and you can see them larger! Hope that helps. 🙂