What’s the Project? If you’re learning to sew and need a little help with how to sew a zigzag stitch, this lesson will give you all the help you need to understand the basics.
Hopefully, you have mastered how to sew a straight line and now you are ready to move on to the zigzag stitch. This is another basic fundamental of sewing and the second lesson in these online sewing classes. Zigzag is a fun stitch to do, simple to learn and handy in a lot of scenarios.
How to Sew A ZigZag Stitch:
First of all, let’s talk about what a zigzag stitch is and why you would use it. A zigzag stitch is just that-a stitch that zigzags. It looks like this:
Why Use a Zigzag Stitch:
Pretty basic right? But why would you use a zigzag? There are a couple of reasons:
1. A zigzag is a more sturdy stitch, so if you need something held extra tight, a zigzag is the stitch to use. That’s what I use when attaching the hood on my hooded towels because I know it will hold nice and tight.
2. A zigzag can be used to prevent fraying. If you are sewing clothing or something that you want to have be really nice and you don’t want any raw edges to fray, you can zigzag them first. (That is if you don’t have a serger.)
3. Zigzags are used in applique and buttonholes. We are going to learn about those more in Lesson 7.
Adjusting Your Zigzag:
So, let’s get started sewing.
To sew a zigzag stitch you are going to start out just the same as you did with your straight stitch from Lesson #1. Thread your bobbin and your machine. Somewhere on your machine is going to be a way to change from a straight stitch to a zigzag. Up above you can see a picture of how mine does it (mine is computerized). It may be a picture of a zigzag or it may be a number or letter that indicates what stitch you are doing. Check your manual for help on this. (See also the Meet Your Machine post.)
Set your machine to zigzag. The basic zigzag stitch is going to be of average length and average width:
But you will be able to change the stitch width and the stitch length as needed. Here are some examples:
On this one, I have adjusted the WIDTH of the stitch to be larger. See how the zigzag is very big and wide?
But on this one I adjusted the LENGTH of the stitch-making the stitches long and farther apart:
Here they are closer together, meaning I adjusted the LENGTH again and in this case, I also adjusted the WIDTH and made it a little smaller:
And on this one I adjusted the LENGTH almost as low as it could go:
When you have a really tight zigzag where the stitches are right up next to each other, that’s called a Satin Stitch.
Are you getting a sense of how you can adjust your stitches? Find where you do this on your machine and play around with it a little.
Now, typically when using a zigzag you can just keep your stitch width and length at a nice average setting. But it’s good to know how to change it as needed.
Sew a Zigzag:
To sew a zigzag, LOWER your presser foot and your needle into the fabric. Make sure your machine is set on zigzag and sew an inch forward. Just like with the straight stitch, now push the reverse button and sew an inch backwards (back-stitching) and then go forward again. You have now knotted your thread and can continue sewing. Again, you can still use the edge of the presser foot or the seam guides to help you sew straightly.
One more thing to note. You’ll notice that sometimes that zigzag will make the fabric kind of gather in a tunnel underneath it. This can happen on lightweight fabric. There is a way around this. On your machine, the setting next to zigzag will look like a zigzag but dotted. This will do a zigzag but with three stitches per zig to help prevent the tunnel effect.
And that’s it. Not too hard is it?
Now we need to practice and sew something new! Here’s how your assignment works:
- Pick a project-I will give you several options here, you are also welcome to choose something of your own, just be careful to make sure that it is in your ability range. Sew it up this week before you move on to Lesson #3-Turning and Top Stitching.
Or choose your own! Any clothing item that you zigzag the edges to prevent fraying can work! Or anything you can find to use a zigzag on!