Learn how to sew a zigzag stitch in this learn to sew series for beginners. The zigzag stitch is a versatile stitch that you’ll use often.
The zigzag stitch is the second most common sewing stitch besides the straight stitch. It’s used in a number of sewing applications and often used as a decorative stitch.
So, let’s learn all about the zigzag stitch. Such as exactly what is the zigzag stitch and why and when do you want to use this stitch. We’ll learn all this and more into this sewing lesson.
How to Sew a Zigzag Stitch
This tutorial will help you to learn how to sew a zigzag stitch. All you need to know to learn how to sew this stitch is:
- How to thread your sewing machine.
- How to load a bobbin (or maybe how to wind a bobbin) in your sewing machine.
- How to sew a straight stitch.
Obviously, you’ll need a sewing machine if you’re going to make a pillowcase. If you haven’t yet purchased a sewing machine, you can read about what to look for in a sewing machine and my beginner friendly sewing machine recommendations.
- sewing machine
- zigzag foot
Since you’ll just be practicing sewing a zigzag stitch, it will be helpful to have:
- scrap cotton fabric
- matching thread
- wound bobbin
Before we learn how to actually sew a zigzag stitch, let’s look at some common questions that just might help you to understand more about the zigzag stitch.
Q: What is a Zigzag Stitch?
A zigzag stitch is a back-and-forth stitch used where a straight stitch just will not suffice. Due to its strength, it is often used to finish seams and raw edges, and to reinforce buttonholes and in stretchable fabrics.
Here’s what the zigzag stitch looks like:
As you may have noticed, the zigzag stitch can be adjusted for stitch width and stitch length.
Q: When do I use a Zigzag Stitch?
You may want to use a zigzag stitch to reinforce buttonholes, when stitching stretchable fabrics, when finishing the raw edges of fabric, and in temporarily joining two work pieces together edge-to-edge. The Zigzag stitch is also used in applique. And if you use a very short stitch length, it’s called a Satin Stitch (more on that another time).
The easiest way to follow along and learn how to sew a zigzag stitch is to watch my video tutorial. Simply click on the image below to go to my YouTube video. While you’re there, be sure to subscribe to my channel so you can follow along with new sewing tutorials!
Sew a Zigzag Stitch
- fabric scraps
- all-purpose thread
- sewing machine
- zigzag foot
- If you haven't done so already, thread your sewing machine and load your bobbin.
- If your sewing machine comes with a zigzag presser foot, you'll want to install that presser foot. If not, be sure to select a presser foot that has a wide opening for the needle, like the one pictured below.
- Select the zigzag stitch on your sewing machine. For my Janome, I'm using stitch #13. Set the stitch width to 4.0 - 4.5mm and the stitch length to around 2.4mm. You can play around with the settings to make narrower zigzag stitches, closer zigzag stitches, wider zigzag stitches or more spaced apart zigzag stitches.
- Place your fabric under your presser foot and line up the right edge with you seam guidelines (if using) and the top edge of your fabric with the back of your presser foot. Lower your presser foot and lower your needle.
- Take a few stitches forward, then a few stitches backwards to secure your stitches, stitch down the edge of your fabric. When you are close to the end, secure your stitches, by taking a few back stitches and then forward stitches.
- Put your needle in the up position, raise your presser foot, and remove your fabric.
- Trim the edge of your fabric close to the outer edge of the zigzag stitch, taking care not to cut the threads.
A zigzag stitch is a great way to finish seams. You can zigzag the raw edges before you sew two pieces of fabric together or zigzag both layers together after you have stitched the seams.
If you set your stitch length as short as your machine will allow, this is called a Satin Stitch.
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I can’t urge you enough to practice, practice, practice! I know learning to sew can be frustrating and seem like it’s taking you forever to really make something. But, the better prepared you are, the more familiar you are with your sewing machine, the more success you will have in your sewing journey.
Great, if you’ve been following along with the Sewing for Beginners series here on Hooked on Sewing, you should have learned a lot already, like:
- Finding the best sewing machine for you!
- The essential sewing tools for beginners
- The anatomy of your sewing machine
- How to sew a straight stitch
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you check out those tutorials, you may also find the following tutorials helpful:
Subscribe to My YouTube Channel
I’ll be sharing lots of tutorials, patterns, and helpful sewing tips on my YouTube channel. In fact, the videos get released before the blog posts. So, if you subscribe to my channel, you’ll literally be the first to know when new sewing project ideas have been released.
Be sure to pin this sewing tutorial to your favorite Pinterest board so you can save it for later or share it with family and friends!
[…] the very basic way to sew a pillowcase. There are other options, such as finishing the seams with a zigzag stitch, French seams, and even the burrito method. We'll cover each of those in separate […]