Saturday, August 23, 2014

Satin Stitch Epiphany

I have mentioned a time or two that I do blanket stitch appliqué because my machine does not do a nice satin stitch, no matter what I do.  An epiphany occurred today while watching a U-tube tutorial and I feel really stupid.  My machine has a preset satin stitch and I never knew it!  I might have found it if I had read the manual.  You may already know about such a preset, but I was thrilled and there may be a person or two that this will help.

TIP:  Read your machine's manual.  There is a wealth of informative material there.

Before I explain the stitches it is important to know which presser foot to use.  In figure 1 you see the top of three possible options.  A and B are general feet.  C is an appliqué foot, which does not have a bar in front.  It is free of visual obstruction so you can see what is ahead of the needle and thus you can be more accurate when sewing a complicated piece.

Figure 1
Figure 2 shows the bottom of the three feet.  A is flat on the bottom.  B and C have a recessed portion in the middle, which allows thick stitching to slide under the foot easily.  These recessed feet are what you should use.  I like option C because it allows me to see and guide the work more accurately.
Figure 2
Zig Zag
We all know about the zig-zag stitch.  It has been around for years.  Shortening the stitch length will create a satin stitch (sort of), but it does not make a nice edge for appliqué.  The reason is that each stitch is taken at an angle from the previous stitch.  When I tried to shorten the stitch length to make the stitches closer together than in the photo, it gummed up under my presser foot, and I created a rat's nest on the back.
Zig-zag stitch
Satin Stitch
The satin stitch is designed and preset into some machines to create a closer, more regular stitch.  The sequence of needle placement creates a stitch that is straight across first, then at an angle for the second stitch.  I was able to shorten the stitch length by one increment, but no further.  Still, it is shorter than the zig zag and looks tons better.  The actual stitching is a scant 1/8 inch wide and looks really spiffy, although the enlarged view in the photo shows the minor imperfections, which are not noticeable in the actual stitching.
TIP:  Test before using this stitch on your fine appliqué.  Every machine is different.

When using the preset it is still possible to make adjustments to stitch length and width according to your needs and preferences.  The preset is only a starting point for the correct stitch.  My Viking machine has three presets:  narrow, medium and wide.

Have fun with this useful stitch from your lexicon of decorative options.


  1. Thanks for the great info! I've just taught myself how to do a turned edge machine applique, but this is really informative in case I want to try a raw edge applique. Cheers, from a fellow Viking user (I feel like there aren't too many of us in the quilting world).

  2. I never knew this...I will check my sewing machine for a satin stitch...

  3. brilliant! I'm headed in to see if I have a special satin stitch. The guide classes said to use the zigzag. It never looks good. LeeAnna at not afraid of color

  4. Thanks for the tip. I haven't done satin stitch appliqué on a grand scale for years. This is a great refresher. I have a mid 90s Viking and feet B & C.

  5. I, like you, can't seem to make satin stitch work on my machine. Guess where I am going right now?? To read my manual of course. LOL. Thanks for talking about the grooves under the feet too. I knew all those feet and what they were used for, but have never noticed the grooves. Going to check them out now too.....

  6. This is why I love Linky parties. So much to learn! I am very new to appliqué and have tended to do it by hand up until now. I need all the tips I can find so this was great. I am in the middle of my first appliquéd quilt and will try out the satin stitch on the block I just finished. Thank you! Visiting via Whoop Whoop

  7. I agree with you on " reading manual" I am still learning after having this machine for awhile. love the satin stitch and don't think I have a preset stitch but will check again.