How To Sew Satin Stitch
All stitches begin as a straight stitch. The straight stitch may be adjusted for stitch length to create
fine, medium, and long straight stitches. The longest straight stitch is called a basting stitch. For over a
hundred years, the straight stitch dominated all machine sewing operations.
When you add width to the straight stitch, you create the zig zag stitch. Long zig zag stitches form zig
zag basting stitches. When the zig zag stitch is shortened very short so that the threads lie flat against each
other, it forms a satin stitch.
In 1950, or thereabouts, zig zag sewing machines were introduced to the home sewing market. Prior to this time
several zig zag and button hole adapters were used on straight stitch machines to accomplish the special effects
achieved with zig zag stitches. The satin stitch, however, has been a fabulous addition to sewing techniques. It
has been used for utility and decorative applications.
To sew a satin stitch, it is essential to use a satin stitch presser foot. The standard zig zag stitch
presser foot has a ridge that catch on threads if the threads begin to bunch up. The satin stitch presser foot has
a groove on the bottom of the foot to permit the stitches to neatly flow under the presser foot without becoming
bunched up or snagged by the presser foot.
Adjust the satin stitch by adjusting the stitch length. Adjust the stitches to a fine satin layer of
threads. If the stitch length is too tight, the fabric may not move at all or the threads may overlap leaving a
lumpy looking stitch. If the stitch length is too long, you will see spaced between the treads. The goal is for
the threads to line up neatly side by side forming a satin line of stitches.
Guide the fabric for all stitches in the same way. Place the fabric about one half inch under the presser
foot. Place your guide hand (right hand) along the edge of the fabric in order to guide the fabric accurately.
Place or smoothing hand (left hand) on the top of the fabric to the left and in front of the needle to keep the
fabric lying flat and flowing smoothly. Allow the sewing machine to drive the fabric through the machine.
When sewing curves with a satin stitch, remember not to turn too sharply. A gradual run will keep the satin
stitch from leaving spaced between the threads. It may be necessary to slightly shorten the stitch length if you
are find too many open spaces between threads along curves.
The width of a satin stitch is an essential consideration in the use and appearance of the stitch. A narrow
satin stitch creates a neat row of slightly raised stitches looking much like a small cord. Medium satin stitches
create a strong decorative appearance. Satin stitches may be too wide, leaving loose vulnerable stitching. Avoid
excessively wide satin stitches, because the threads can snag or lie loosely in place. Most older sewing machines
have 5.5 mm stitch width, and do not have significant problems with looping or snagging unless tensions are
improperly balanced. Some of the newer machines have 7.5mm or 9mm stitch widths. The wider the stitch, the more
likelihood of loose threads that can snag.
While 9 mm stitch width satin stitches can be very interesting, take great care to balance the stitch so that the
stitch threads lie neatly side by side without loops or loose threads.
Note too that the tensions are very important to achieve a beautiful satin stitch. If the tensions are irregular or
the upper tension is greater than the bobbin thread, the satin stitch will have an ugly finish with bobbin threads
sticking up on one side or the other of the satin stitch.
Before sewing your finished satin stitch on your project, test the stitch on scrap, and make sure the stitch really
looks right. You will be thrilled with the results.
To learn more about satin stitches and other sewing techniques, check out http://www.sewinganswers.com.