June 4, 2013 posted by littlewhitecottage

How to use the decorative stitches on your sewing machine…

This is a quick tutorial just to show you what you can use the decorative stitches on your machine for. When I teach beginners and even those with more experience they seem to have the same thing in common in that ladies are very happy with the straight stitch and sometimes venture into a zig zag stich but aren’t really sure what their decorative stitches are for and so give them a wide berth!

Here is just one project that you can do even with the simplest of machines in which you can make something unique to you and your home…

A decorative stitch cushion nestling behind a simple patchwork cushion.

decorative stitch 1

I started with a plain white cotton and decided that I would use white thread as this would give an antique look to the fabric. I then chose my decorative stitch and sewed a practice line on a spare piece of fabric to check I liked it. Once I knew which stitch I wanted to do I then took my white cotton fabric and sewed a line from one end to the other of the decorative stitch.

decorative stitch 9

I then selected a different stitch and used the edge of the presser foot as a guide (to keep the line of stitch straight) to sew another line of stitching. I repeated this and built up my own piece of fabric that had my own decorative stitch design.

My machine also has an individual stitch button where I can press the button and if the stitch is, for example, a flower motif then it will just do the flower and not the linking chain of stitches. I did this on the fabric in the picture below and really liked the effect. It was a contrast to the lines of decorative stitching that added another dimension to the finished design.

decorative stitch 8

Once I’d finished the lines of stitching I then cut the fabric into squares ready to sew them together. I decided to have a lined square and flower square alternated. I sewed 4 squares together -this photo just shows 3 – to make a strip.

decorative stitch 7

 Once I’d got 4 strips I sewed them together to make the cushion top.

decorative stitch 6

I always line my patchwork cushions as I feel this gives a quality finish. I use a white cotton fabric and in this photo you can see how I’ve pinned the top of the cushion to the lining ready to sew round the outside.

decorative stitch 5

I used some of the left over fabric to cover some buttons so they match.

decorative stitch 4

I used the machine to make the button holes. I find that I need to go over twice with the button hole stitch to make each one as this makes them a little tighter so they don’t sag after a short while.

decorative stitch 3

Here are the buttons and the button holes!

decorative stitch 2

Here’s the finished cushion

decorative stitch 1

The decorative stitches give it an aged, antique effect and it’s a cushion that I have lots of comments about when people visit the cottage. You could easily change the thread colour or fabric colour or you could even sew onto patterned fabric to give different effects. What you will make though is something unique to you rather than another cushion from another shop that someone else may have too.

Happy decorative stitching!

Want another project that shows you different ideas to try with your sewing machine?

Have a look at ‘How to make your own greetings cards using your sewing machine…’


  • Hi,

    I love the stiches you have used in this post. I have a basic machine that I use every day for cushions/bunting etc but it does not do any decorative stiches. I really want to invest in a ‘fancier’ machine and definitely want one that does blanket stitch and was wandering what machine you have? There are so many machines out there, it is a bit of a mind boggling choice!!

    Thank you for your time
    Helen xx

    • Hi Helen

      I have Janome machines. A DC30350, 3 other entry level digital machines and 1 middle level digital machines. (I’m sat in a café at the mo but I will get back to you with the model numbers when I get home!) I have found these machines have a good range of decorative stitches, have other functions that I use regularly such as the automatic button hole. They are very good for free machine embroidery (I have a tutorial), can sew all different weights of cloth and have always worked. I paid £250 for the DC30350 -it’s a machine exclusive to John Lewis – and £299 for my other 3 machines and £399 for the last.
      Would a blog about my machines help others do you think? Emma x

    • Thanks Emma, I have my own small business making pretty things from home and working around my little ones (aged 7 & 4) but as the business has grown I am finding that my machine doesn’t do everything that I want. My fb page is Love Lottie Textiles if you fancy a peek 🙂

      Your comments about your machines have been a big help so thank you! I am desperate to have a go at free motion embroidery and although my machine does drop feed dogs there is no darning foot for it and the manufacturers say I can just do it without a foot but I’m a bit nervous about doing that!!! I have a husqavarna emerald 118.

      I think lots of people would love you to do a blog about your machines and experience of their best functions. You write beautifully by the way, have you thought about writing a sewing book??!!

      Helen xx

    • I would love to write a sewing book! I’m working on an ebook so watch this space 🙂

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    for me. And i’m glad reading your article. But wanna remark on few general things, The site style is ideal, the articles is really
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    • Thanks so much, I’m glad you like the blog 🙂

  • Fabulous tutorial with some fab tip. Many thanks

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