making a bow

Today’s sewing machines come with hundreds of stitches, for both practical and decorative techniques. When you look at the practical stitches, it’s sometimes hard to know how to use them. Here’s one of my favorite practical stitches with three useful techniques. The Universal stitch starts with two vertical straight stitches and then takes a horizontal stitch before repeating the whole sequence. Many sewing machines have this stitch and on most current BERNINA machines, it is Stitch #15. There are a variety of presser feet that can be used with this stitch and which one depends on the technique you are stitching.

Universal Stitch Diagram

Elastic Casing

Here’s a cute sleeve treatment for little girls and is also great for sewing doll clothes. It’s a fun technique where the stitch becomes a thread casing for narrow elastic (⅛”-¼”). Thread the elastic through the needle opening of an all-purpose foot. Select the Universal stitch and adjust the stitch width if needed to make sure the stitch goes over, and not into the elastic. Stitch on the wrong side of the fabric.

stitching a thread casing

After stitching, pull the elastic up to form tighter gathers if needed.

thread casing

Sewing on Buttons

A second technique uses the Universal stitch to sew on buttons. The button sew-on program is great but with the Universal stitch, you can control the amount of thread used. I use it a lot when stitching buttons on purely for decoration. Lower the feed dog and the stitch becomes a bartack that stitches in place, locking them every time the needle goes across. Attach a button sew-on foot and stitch 4-5 stitches – the button is locked in and secure.

sewing on a button

Making Bows

Another use for the bartack is attaching ribbons that you’ll tie into a bow. Here’s a tip: If you want the bow to be horizontal, place the ribbon vertically for stitching. Using an all-purpose foot or an open embroidery foot, stitch a bartack (feed dog still lowered) and sew 4-5 stitches. Clip the threads and tie the ribbon into a bow.

making a bow

The Universal stitch can be used for more techniques but these are my favorite! Try them and see what you think!

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