How to Satin Stitch
A satin stitch or damask stitch lays down threads right next to each other, in stitches between ⅛ and ½ inches (3–13 cm) long. If the stitches all have equal tension, the threads lying together will have a soft glow, mimicking satin.
Satin Stitching by Hand
Practice on fabric scraps.Satin stitching by hand takes precision. Practice on spare fabric first so you get a sense for how tight to stitch, and how to keep the stitches as close as possible.
- Start with a simple square or circle before trying intricate satin stitch patterns.
Choose a narrow area.Only include satin stitches in narrow spaces, no more than ½ inch (1.25 cm) wide. Long satin stitches will float loose and look messy.
Stitch as close together as possible.You do not want any gaps between two stitches. Stitch as close as you can without tangling the threads, in tight parallel rows.
Achieve even tension.Practice the satin stitch until you can pull the threads tight enough to lie flat, but loose enough that they don't distort the shape of the cloth. Stitching too tightly is a common mistake. Try to use a consistent tension for each stitch, or you'll have loose threads.
Incorporate satin stitch in your design.Once you're confident with your scrap cloth, move on to a real project. Here are a few ideas:
- Outline the edge of a garment.
- Monogram a project.
- Sew buttonholes with an extra-narrow satin stitch.
- When you feel ready, try a whole art piece with satin stitches. Remember to stick to narrow stitches only.
Satin Stitching on a Sewing Machine
Try your satin stitch settings on a scrap of the actual fabric, with the same actual thread you plan to use before you do the real deal.That way you can adjust the spacing between the stitches by experimentation before you end up with a giant clump of stitches that are too close together on your actual, precious project.
Set your machine to the shortest zig-zag.Satin stitching is a zig zag stitch with the threads so close they touch each other. This is zig zag setting 1 on most machines.
- You can change the width setting to any size that suits your design. Most satin stitches show up in buttonholes, outlines, and other narrow areas.
- If you're not sure how to set your machine, look in the manual. You can find many sewing machine manuals online.
Attach a satin stitch foot to your machine.A regular sewing machine foot will usually jam if you try to satin stitch with it. Buy a special satin stitch foot from any store that sells your brand of sewing machine. This foot has a groove on the underside so the stitch can pass through as you go.
- A transparent foot makes it easier to see your design.
- For intricate designs, you may use a free motion embroidery foot instead. This allows you to move the fabric in any direction while you stitch.
Draw a design onto the fabric (recommended).For all but the simplest patterns, most embroiderers sketch their design onto the fabric. Use washable fabric pencil so you can remove the marks later.
Stabilize the fabric.An embroidery hoop that attaches to your machine will keep the fabric taut for your stitch. If you are stitching an intricate pattern, you'll also need a stabilizer that adheres to the back of the fabric.
- The choice of stabilizer depends on the fabric, thread, and type of project, so read the product description carefully before buying.
Stitch over the design.Move slowly, especially if you're stitching an edge or outline. The stitches should be as even and close together as possible.
- If your experimental satin stitch puckers, that means the tension is maladjusted. You can adjust upper and lower tensions ahead of time to prevent this.
- Make sure the satin-stitches top-side and under-side are pretty much even in width. This is also a function of tension.
- If adjusting the top tension doesn't even-out the top and bottom stitches, you can adjust bobbin tension by a tiny turn of the set screw on the bobbin case.
Seal satin-stitched edges.If your piece has a satin-stitched outline, protect it with a fabric sealant such as Fray Check.
- To further enhance the appearance, carefully trim the fabric just outside the satin stitches. Work with a magnifying glass to reduce the chance of cutting one of your stitches.
QuestionHow do I work with satin fabric?Top AnswererWith any fabric that slips and moves on a sewing machine, pinning it on tissue paper will give the sewing machine foot a surface to grab. Simply tear off the paper after sewing.Thanks!
- Draw an outline on the fabric so that you can have a guide to follow when stitching. (So that your shape will not be distorted, bent, etc.)
- If you are using an outline, be sure to cover it with your stitches.
Video: How to do Satin Stitch. The basics and some variations.
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