We’re so excited to share a special guest post from quilter Kimberly Einmo! Along with our partners at Janome, Kimberly (who is the Janome National Spokesperson and a Bluprint instructor) is here to show you a unique technique she uses on her Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9400 and that you can try on your own machine at home.
Most of the time, quilters only use a small percentage of the many fabulous features on their machine for piecing and quilting.
It’s like the cliché we’ve all heard: As humans, we only use 10 percent of our brains’ capabilities. If you’re a quilter, you tend to use the same favorite features and straight stitch over and over. But may I invite you to peek “under the hood” to explore more of what your machine has to offer?
Some machines have only a handful of decorative stitches, while others have so many dazzling decorative stitches!
Of course, you can use many of these decorative stitches to quilt all three layers of your quilts together, but I think it’s incredibly creative to make your own unique fabric using a wide variety of stitches as well. The process is simple and much more fun than simply stitching out a “stitch library” on sample cloth of all the different stitches.
How to create your own fabric design with decorative stitches
What you’ll need:
- Solid cotton fabric
- Spray starch
- Hera marker
- Contrasting thread
- Sewing machine with decorative stitches
Step 1: Prepare the fabric
First, properly prepare the fabric you plan to use. I used a 100 percent cotton fabric because a poly blend will not provide the stiffness you need (even after applying starch). Use spray starch and thoroughly wet your fabrics. Allow them to dry until they are damp; then finish drying the starched squares with a very hot iron. They will be quite stiff when they are dry. By doing this, you avoid the need to use a stabilizer under your fabric to keep the stitches crisp and even.
Step 2: Mark your sewing lines
Use a Hera marker or a similar tool and a ruler to make a crease in your fabric. I made a diagonal line from corner to corner, but you could make horizontal or vertical lines if you prefer. These lines will be your guide as you sew the decorative stitches.
Step 3: Choose your decorative stitch and sew!
The sewing process is quick and easy: First, line up your presser foot with one of the marked lines. I used a clear 9mm appliqué foot, which accommodates my decorative stitches and allows me to see the stitches as they are being sewn without any obstruction or distortion.
Then, all you have to do is gently guide the fabric with your hands to keep it aligned. The presser foot and feed dogs pull the fabric through evenly.
To start, I chose the built-in alphabets on the 9400, which let me create fun words, phrases and names. That’s just one idea — you can try whatever decorative stitches you have on your machine.
I used a high-contrast black thread because I wanted my stitches to be distinct and create the fabric design. However, you can choose to use a matching thread to create a “shadow” effect which adds texture and visual interest to your new fabric.
Step 4: Use your new fabric like any other fabric!
After you have finished stitching your “new” fabric, trim the squares to the desired size. I cut my squares in half on the diagonal line I had marked with my Hera marker to create triangles for a double pinwheel block.
Using the decorative stitches on your machine to add texture and interest to your fabrics and variety to your quilting is a great way to stretch your creative muscles and grow as a quilter. You can consider the time you spend playing with the decorative stitches on your machine “purposeful play.”