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Dec 15, 2008

So You Want to Sew?: A look at zig zags

Hi ladies! I hope you enjoyed the first installment of the "So You Want to Sew" series. If you missed it, you can click HERE to read the first tutorial.

Today we are going to delve into zig zag stitches. The Janome sew mini offers three different zig zag stitches. Knowing which one to choose is as important as making straight stitches. :)

I am going to do a side by side comparison of the three stitches in this tutorial.

First, I chose the F zig zag option. This is the smallest of the three. Simply turn the dial until the nib matches up with the letter of the stitch you are choosing.

Now, place your paper with the area you are stitching together centered with the slit in the presser foot like this: (In this picture I am almost done stitching. I started at the top of the paper)

Although I have centered my paper I wanted to stitch, the stitches do not straddle the line I wanted stitched. It sews only to the left of the slit mark on the presser foot. Also, when using the smallest zig zag stitch, it is much harder to keep your paper straight. The stitches are so tight that it is very unforgiving if your paper shifts. I do not like the look of the small stitches either. This is a stitch I RARELY use. I would recommend you stay away from it. LOL

Now let's try the next larger zig zag, Letter G. I dialed the G on my Janome as shown here:

Now, line up the center of your paper that you want sewn with the slit in the presser foot and stitch down the paper. REMEMBER: Do not watch the needle, ONLY watch the slit in the presser foot and make sure your paper stays centered with that slit. Make subtle movements with your hands as the needle pulls your paper. Use a VERY light touch.

Here is the G stitch shown next to the F stitch. I think it looks WAY better than the tiny stitches. You'll notice that the zig zag is still not exactly centered on the papers you are stitching together, but as long you are consistent with your placement, your creation will look great! This is the zig zag stitch I use most often.

Now let's move on to the H zig zag stitch. Again, move your dial as shown:

Center your paper with the slit in the presser foot as shown and start stitching.

Here are the three finished stitches side by side. You can see with the largest zig zag stitch, that the stitches evenly straddle the 2 pieces of card stock. Using this stitch requires plenty of free space on both pieces you are sewing together. I do not use this stitch very frequently, but if you are looking for a more dramatic stitch to dress up some plain space, this is a good option. I use this stitch when my mats are substantially larger than the piece I am sewing it to, OR when I am sewing a strip of paper on as in this example.

Smallest Zig Zag stitch (F)
  • difficult to straddle papers you would like to stitch together
  • very tight stitches
  • semi-difficult to sew in a straight line

Medium Zig Zag stitch (G)

  • easy to stitch over both pieces you would like to stitch together
  • stitches are "loose" enough to show a great zig zag effect
  • easy to sew in a straight line
  • does not straddle the 2 pieces of card stock you are sewing on symmetrically without adjusting card stock placement
  • my *go to* zig zag stitch

Large Zig Zag stitch (H)

  • very easy to stitch through both pieces you would like to stitch together
  • stitches are very "loose" and offer a more spread out zig zag effect
  • easy to sew in a straight line
  • straddles the 2 pieces of card stock you are sewing on symmetrically
  • great for larger mats, or sewing strips of card stock to larger pieces

Some things to remember:

  • The bigger the stitch, the easier it is to control while sewing.
  • The smaller the stitch, the greater the chance for error. Subtle movements can result in an obviously crooked line of stitches.
  • NEVER watch your needle. Always watch the slit on the presser foot in relation to the placement of your paper for the straightest stitches possible.

Watch for the next installment of "So You Want to Sew" coming soon. :) We will be zig zag stitching in a box.

I hope you are inspired to pull out your sewing machine.


  1. Oh Jody,

    this is great! I need to find my sewing machine, it's so much fun watching your tutorial!


  2. thank you so much for doing these jodi! i am just getting caught up so I have a quick question. on the first tutorial, you STOPPED just short of the edge on the first side you sewed --- but on the SECOND SIDE, did you stop short or did you sew through the edge? I am thinking that you stopped on the first side to make it quicker and easier to line up the second side but I could be wrong - so please clairfy!

  3. Thanks Jody! What great pictures, comparisons, and instructions! This will help so many wanna-be paper craft seamstresses!

  4. Hey Jodi, I don't have a Janome but my Kenmore has multi-zigs. Your info. will be very helpful and my next attempt at sewing on cardstock! Thanks!!!

  5. Jody,

    Thank you so much for these tutorials! I bought a Janome Sew Mini a while ago but have been too intimidated to use it, I am embarrassed to admit. Now I can feel like you are sitting their with me giving me a sewing lesson - THANK YOU!!

    Hope your holidays are off to a TERRIFIC start!


  6. I just love these pictorials. I don't have a machine just yet! However when I do I know right where to come. Your pictorials are very clear and easy to follow. The examples you show are the best. Thanks a million. darlene

  7. Super tutorials for sewers and non-sewers alike. Great job!!

  8. I NEED one of these machines!! Keeping track of what you are saying so next time I visit my girlfriend down south, I'll order one and have it shipped to
    Thanks for taking the time to do this Jody!

  9. WOW! You are so thorough and love the pics to accompany your wonderful how-to demo! I know these things take time -- all of which we GREATLY appreciate!

  10. Just a reminder/hint--when stitching on paper the smaller your stitch the more your stitching acts as perforation and the greater your chance of tearing.

  11. Fantastic tutorials, Jody! The biggest thing I'm picking up here....DON'T WATCH THE NEEDLE. lol. (My biggest mistake...well, one of them.)

  12. Can I just tell you how much I love these tutorials??? Really helped me with my sewing today!


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