The Art of Mastering Sewing

Buying a Sewing Machine: Stitches

If you’ve recently discovered a passion for sewing, getting your first sewing machine can be a challenge – even the simplest ones can have a lot of confusing features! The most important thing is to consider not just your present needs but also what you might need in the future.

Of course, in the world of sewing machines, stitches are king. How many must there be in a specific machine? The key is not to be enticed by number of stitches. Instead, look for a machine with stitches you’ll use instead of being tempted by a large number of stitches.

For starters, there are only two stitches you’ll need to sew well: straight and zigzag. You can do pretty much all kinds of sewing with either or both. But some other stitches or stitch features do add a little pizzazz to your sewing.

The following are guidelines to help you choose a sewing machine based on stitches:


You have to be able to tweak the length of a straight stitch from 0mm – 5mm. Basting and gathering is possible at 5mm, while locking stitches can be done at 0. You will probably stay around 2.5mm most of the time, but with adjustable stitch lengths, you can have more options. In any case, go for a machine that lets you make those adjustments with ease.


The length, as well as the width of this stitch, must be adjustments.


Because a buttonhole stitch is basically an automatic zigzag stitch, any machine with a zigzag stitch will likely come with a buttonhole feature. Even the least expensive machines are made with some kind of buttonhole option. But ideally, you’d like to give it a try prior to purchasing a machine.

Stretch or Knit

Two types of stitches work best for sewing with knits. One resembles the appearance of a lightning symbol while the other is a triple stretch stitch. When stitched, knits will stretch without popping the threads. Though a zigzag stitch can sew stretch fabrics well
special knit stitches are exceptional at this job.

Blind Hem

As their name tells you, blind hem stitches produce practically out-of-sight hems on pants and skirts.


Sewing machines often have stretch/knit stretches and a few other utility stitches. These are perfect for securing seams and making creative designs.

After sewing for some time, you will know which stitches you would like to use. By then, it should be time for a new machine. Sure, there are other things to consider before buying one. Your budget, specific features you want, attachments and feet (mechanical or automatic) – all of these are important, but probably not as important as stitches. After all, stitches speak the most about the final quality of your sewing.
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Lessons Learned from Years with Machines