In this post we will take you through the most commonly found stitch settings on most modern sewing machines. Whether your machine has a digital screen or has a manual selection dial, you will see these icons showing how the stitch looks.

Stitch selection is not just about how the finished stitch looks, it's all about which stitch is right for the fabric and the type of join you want to achieve. Some require simple stitches and others have specially adapted stitches to create extra strong and stable construction of your garments and sewing or dressmaking projects.

We've shared three great Janome sewing machines perfect for starting your dressmaking journey with at the end of this post! Read our complete guide to sewing machine features for beginners if you are looking to find out how to get started with a new machine.

Sewing Machine Stitch types and their uses:

Straight Stitch

This is the most common and basic stitch perfect for plain seams, darts, tucks and top-stitching - it's the all rounder! On most machines you can alter the stitch length to suit. Longer stitch lengths can be used for things like gathers or very long lenths for basting as it makes it easy to remove the stitches.

Triple Stretch Stitch

The pattern for this stitch is two stitches forward and then one back. As you can imagine with 3 x the amount of stitches it creates very strong seams especially useful for stretchy fabrics. This can also look attractive as a top stitch.

Zig Zag Stitch

It's mostly used for raw edges to neaten them up, although can be used for top stitching. This stitch also has flexibility compared to the straight stitch which makes it ideal for sewing stretch or knit fabrics (Jersey etc) - your machine may have a separate 'Elastic Stitch' setting for this.

Triple Zig Zag Stitch

As with the triple straight stitch it sews two forward and then one back and is often used for finishing the raw edges of your fabric.

Elastic Stitch

This is another stitch you can't do without, particularly if you ever want to sew with stretchy fabrics! It's just an adapted version of the Zig Zag stitch with a smaller stitch length. The stitch has much more flexibility than a straight stitch.

Slant Pin Stitch

This stitch sews a seam and finishes it simultaneously, especially useful for medium to heavy weight fabrics, it creates a strong seam.

Slant Overlock Stitch

This is another stretch stitch which can be used on both stretch and woven fabrics, as with the Slant pin Stitch it sews a seam and finish simultaneously and you can simply trim the excess seam allowance away.

Blind Hem Stitch

A blind hem means that you can't see the stitching on the top of the outward facing fabric. When done correctly all you should see are little dots (micro stitches) with all the visible stitching at the back.

Stretch Blind Hem Stitch

the same as a Blind Hem Stitch for invisible hems but for use with stretch fabrics. It's worth using the stretch stitch options to ensure your stitches don't break as the fabric stretches naturally.

Shell Tuck Stitch

This is a very pretty stitch which is ideal for hems on light weight fabrics. Think of hemming a satin slip or petticoat, many people think it adds a vintage feel to your finished hems.

Elastic Shell Tuck Stitch

The shell tuck stitch but with shorter stitch length to allow for more stretch with knit or stretchy fabrics.

Fagoting Stitch

The purpose of this stitch is to join to folded edges of fabric together with lots of overlapping threads to create a decorative finish.

Honeycomb Stitch

This can be used as purely a decorative stitch, or as an insertion stitch for elastic or for sewing two pieces of fabric together.

Blanket Stitch

This stitch is both decorative and functional. Many of you will know it from hand stitching. It forms a neat edge for the fabric and can be seen on both sides.

Ladder Stitch

This stitch can be used for adding a decorative embellishment such as ribbon or cord, it creates a channel for the embellishment to sit in. It will also work as a decorative top stitch so worth experimenting.

Elastic Overlock Stitch

This stitch gives you a similar finish to that you get when using an overlocker / serger. As with some of the previous stitches it both creates and finishes the seam all at once. It's a neat way to finish your fabric and a great substitute if you don't have an overlocker.

Double Overlock Stitch

This is the same as the overlock stitch but with an additional reinforcing seam added. Use it for areas which will get more stress.

Double Action Stitch

This stitch is used for joining two pieces of fabric, it's often used in patchwork.

Feather Stitch

The feather stitch is a decorative embroidery stitch but it also works well for adding elastic.

Scallop Stitch

Another beautiful stitch, it is made up of different lengths of stitch which form a wavy edging or embellishment. You can change the settings to make the stitches really close together to make this feel more like a satin stitch used for applique.

Tree Stitch

It really does look like a little row of trees! A decorative stitch which will add interest to your projects whether used alone or in combination with some of the other decorative stitches. Some machines come with so many beautiful stitches above and beyond what we have mentioned in this list.

Bridging Stitch

This is another stitch used for joing fabric together as it crosses back and forth. It can be used as an overaching term for the many kinds of bridging stitches such as the fagoting stitch.

Buttonhole Stitch

One of the most useful stitches. Depending on the level of your machine you either have a one step programme which measures and sews the button hole reinforcement for you or one that takes 4 steps and invlves you adjusting a few settings as it sews the 4 sides of the button hole. Your user manual will help and you can often find these online if you

Keyhole Buttonhole Stitch

This kind of buttonhole is used for more heavyweight fabrics such as suits and coats. It's the same principle as the standard buttonhole.

Have you tried using more than just straight or zig zag stitch on your projects? How have you found it has improved the finish of your garments and sewing projects or did you find it complicated to achieve the right tension?

We'd love to hear from you, why not join the conversation in our Facebook Group?

Three sewing machines perfect for starting your dressmaking journey!

If you are looking to upgrade your machine or thinking about getting more serious about dressmaking then we have 3 great machines to share from Janome that we would recommend you take a look at.

Janome HD 2200 - Mechanical Sewing Machine

The Janome HD 220 is a mechanical sewing machine perfect for a novice dressmaker looking to learn the basics. A combination of power, elegance and simplicity. The solid metal body provides the robustness required by schools and heavy users, whilst the design makes it so easy to use.

Find out more

Janome 230 DC

The Janome 230 DC is a computerised sewing machine, offering more versatility and features than a basic mechanical model. The model 230DC has lots of easy to use features which make sewing a pleasure, it is the machine to grow with your skills and is both suitable for beginners and more experienced sewers. Fully computerised with stitches and settings at the touch of a button. No fuss threading with the auto needle threader and quick set bobbin.

Find out more

Janome Atelier 6 Computerised Sewing Machine

The Janome Atelier 6 is a larger armspace computerised sewing machine. This computerised free arm sewing machine is designed for every type of sewing and is perfect to take your sewing to a new level. It has all the essential features for dressmaking, quilting, crafting and home furnishings with stitches and settings at the touch of a button plus lots more to give you an easy professional finish!

Find out more!

Janome have three fantastic sewing machines which are ideal if you are starting your sewing journey.

If you're keen to hear more from Janome, why not follow them on Instagram @JanomeUK

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