Recently I checked my owner’s manual to find out the number of decorative stitches that are included with my Ellisimo sewing machine. The number—355! I knew there were a lot of stitches, but did not realize the number would be that significant!

With all those options in mind, I decided it was time to add decorative stitch accents to my next project, thinking a little girl’s outfit would be an ideal palette for a touch of decoration. I used an Indygo Junction Pattern, Uptown Tops & Trousers.

Instead of stitching on the right side of the fabric using embroidery thread in the needle, my goal was to fine-tune the process of using decorative thread in the bobbin—commonly known as bobbin work. The result is stitches with impact!

With this technique, the sewing is done on the wrong side of the fabric. What you see while stitching is not what appears on the right side of the fabric.

Stitch from the wrong side—decorative stitches on the right side!

The advantage of bobbin work is that thread, too large for the eye of a sewing machine needle, can be used in the bobbin. My thread choice was a 12 weight thread—specifically Madeira’s Decora 6. By the way, I often have to stop and think about the way threads are measured: the higher the number the finer the denier or thickness and visa versa. So the 12-weight thread is, well, thick!

It is important to wind numerous bobbins since the thicker thread takes up significant room on the bobbin, yielding less thread per bobbin. I didn’t have any issues winding the thread in the traditional way. If you do, hand wind the thread onto the bobbin. Then test your stitches.

Here are the tips that I used for giving a new twist to decorative thread:

•          Fuse lightweight interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric is the decorative stitching area.

•          Select an all-purpose thread the color of the fabric to use in the needle.

•          Use a decorative stitch with an open design—not a satin stitch design.

•          Mark the stitching line on the wrong side of the fabric for ease of stitching straight.

•          Place the decorative thread in the bobbin. It may be necessary to by-pass the tension disk. If you have a Baby Lock, there is a special bobbin case that is calibrated to accommodate the bobbin work.

•          Stitch from the wrong side. What you see is not what you get!

•          Test a variety of stitches and stitch lengths or widths.

Bobbin Work accents

To see additional insights into this technique, view a new video, just posted today on

A New Twist to Decorative Stitches is our March video on Nancy Zieman TV. You can find out more information on bobbin work; just visit your local Baby Lock Dealer. Also, thanks to all the Baby Lock Retailers who sponsor Nancy Zieman TV. If you sign-up on your local, participating retailer’s mailing list, you’ll receive notices of the new videos on Nancy Zieman TV, plus, you’ll receive coupons for some of the products featured during the online lesson.

Last Tuesday I wrote about Crazy Pattern Pieces = Terrific Top. I enjoyed reading the many comments on other “crazy” pattern shapes that you’ve used. Our random winner from the list of comments is Rebecca Palecki who will receive a copy of the book that Linda Lee and I worked on for the TV show, Runway Finishes for Cool Edges. Here’s Rebecca’s comment:

The most unconventional pattern I’ve ever sewn was the Center for Design #46 Pyramid Dress on Sandra Erikson’s site. Named for its debut in the Pyramids at the Art Institute of Indianapolis and its method of construction in which it is drawn up from the floor into a pyramid form and stitched. This dress is based upon the principles of Julian Roberts’ system of Subtraction Cutting. It drapes beautifully in soft, lightweight knit and can easily be dressed up or down.

Let me know what you think about the bobbin work technique!

Bye for now,