Using Decorative Stitches in Your Quilt Squares

If you have a sewing machine that’s not also an embroidery machine,  you may wish you had the embroidery option for machine quilting, and you might wonder how you can create machine quilting with decorative stitches. There is good news! Even if you don’t have an embroidery option for quilting, there is an alternative!

Making Your Stitching Pretty

If your machine has built-in decorative stitches, you will be amazed at how you can do machine quilting using these stitches with interesting patterns and textures. It’s simple, appealing, and functional. Using a variety of threads, fabrics, shapes and stitches can create and endless array of quilting designs!

Using decorative stitches like embroidery on your quilt squares.

Most machines have some decorative stitches, and some machines have tons of stitch options. I use a Brother SE 400, which is an entry level machine that also does embroidery. It has an adequate selection of decorative stitches to have fun with, which works well for me. So, even if your machine is a sewing/embroidery combo, it will still be fun to explore the use of your decorative stitches for quilting designs.

You can use multiple stitch designs in rows, crosses, diamonds, squares, lines, triangles, or octagons to create geometrical designs. They can be complex, where you use multiple shapes and stitches in one design, or clean and simple. The main thing is to explore, play with fabrics, stitches, color, design, and shapes to create quilt squares with your decorative stitches.

So, let’s play around with some of our decorative stitches, and see what happens!

Machine Quilting with Decorative Stitches

Supplies Needed:  quilt fabric, embroidery thread, thin cotton batting, water soluble markers or disappearing ink (make sure to sew your design right away, before it disappears)

  1. Select your fabric and color palette.
  2. Cut your quilt squares the size you want. Mine are 5″x5″.
  3. Cut your batting to be sandwiched between 2 pieces of fabric.
  4. Use pins or temporary spray adhesive, such as 505 spray, to hold fabric and batting in place.
  5. Use your markers to draw guide lines for your design. Measure and draw out your designs in any shape that appeals to you, such as lines to create rows of stitches. You want to make sure they are spaced evenly or in groups of 2 or 3 lines. Be sure to allow a 1/4″ or 1/2″ margin along all edges for sewing squares together (watch for my next video that shows how to sew the quilt squares together). I did a large diamond shape on one of my squares, using my little flower decorative stitch. It is one of my favorites because it has such clean lines.
  6. Once you have some guidelines in place, choose which decorative stitches you want to use. You’ll want to have a practice piece of fabric handy so you can play with your machine stitch settings, regarding stitch length and width. Once you find a stitch you like, go ahead and begin stitching your quilt square. Remember, DO NOT sew all the way to the edge or your pretty stitches will interfere with  your seam when you sew your squares together!

About Bonnie

Bonnie has been sewing since she was a child, and her love of playing with thread has only grown since then. She continues to sew, but has a newfound love for all things embroidery.

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