Tutorial: Machine Blanket Stitching

You will need to have a stitch on your machine that will do a blanket stitch design. This is usually indicated by a straight line on the right and the side stitches coming out at the side toward the left, opposite to hand blanket stitching if you are right handed.

I mostly use a stitch width of between a 2 and a 2.5. I have a Janome memory craft 3500 but some machines may vary. So try the stitch out before you commence sewing. Generally you do now want the stitches to be too big. Always use a matching colour sewing cotton for the top thread. Practice before you start and as machines differ in their sewing motion, pay attention to the needle movements. This is important when you want to pivot around corners.

Trace and apply your design to the fabric in the usual manner as you would when you were to hand blanket stitch. The difference between hand and machine blanket stitch is the needle on the machine is always to the right side of the raw edge on the applique piece. See photo below for needle placement. Start with a locking stitch first if your machine has one. If you have a computerised machine it will remember what movement is next after you have stopped so it's important to either end with a locking stitch to complete the motion or if your machine does not have a locking stitch or is a manual machine you will need to reset it. Otherwise when you begin sewing in another area it will start in the movement that it finished on. Not good. You will always want to start with your needle directly against the raw edge of the applique piece on the right hand side.

Pivoting isn't difficult but again you need to pay attention to the movement of the needle. When you are approaching a tight corner or pointed area, stop with your needle down just before the corner and just before the needle is about to do its side movement. Lift the foot and turn your fabric slightly to align for the needle to do a stitch. Continue so it will do one movement to the side. Stop lift the foot and turn your fabric again in preparation to continue sewing. See Step two photo.

Sewing inside an area e.g letters, is the same as sewing the outer edge. Always start so the needle is flush up against the raw edge on the right hand side so the needle movement will sew to the left and towards you. Always adjust the stitch size if you are going to stitch something very small. Take it down to a 1 or 1.5 Once again check this on a fabric scrap as machines do vary. See step three photo.

Pivoting an inside corner is much the same as pivoting and outer edge. Just remember not to turn your fabric to sharply and the slightest turn on the fabric or sewing foot is usually all it takes. If you turn too sharply your stitching along the raw edge will have little points. You want to keep your edges nice and smooth just like hand blanket stitching.

In this photo you will see what it looks like when you machine blanket stitch. It really is very easy and makes a nice change especially if you LOVE your sewing machine and are generally not into hand stitching that much. I really enjoy it. I like both hand and machine blanket stitch. So give it ago. You may very well find a new passion!

I did all the blanket stitching on my machine for the "My little laundry helper" kids' laundry bag pattern. Happy machine stitching!

Thank you to Natalie for this interesting insight into machine stitching. You can check out the My Little Laundry Helper pattern and the rest of the Natalie Ross in Stitches range in store at Patterns Only.