Sew and weave

Stitch ‘n Weave embellishment techniques refer to a variety of decorative techniques that involve combining sewing and weaving methods to create unique textures, intricate patterns, or unusual patterns on fabric. Decorative threads, threads, cords or ribbons are woven by pre-sewn machine sewing, twisting, turning, looping or knotting if desired.

Figure 1
Figure 1

Stitch ‘n weave can include couching, laying work, relief embroidery, Brazilian embroidery and finally thread weaving, which is the focus of this article. The process typically involves sewing or embroidering on a base fabric and then weaving additional threads or fibers through the stitches to create additional dimension and texture, resulting in visually stunning designs. This combination of sewing and weaving allows the creation of intricate patterns, raised surfaces and interesting visual effects and is often used in textile arts, embroidery and surface embellishment.

Machine-stitched designs can be abstract, specific shapes or used for borders. (Figure 1). This can be achieved using various weaving techniques, such as over-under weaving or wrapping threads around existing stitches. Unlike bedding, threads can be swapped out for new colors and textures next season by gently removing the original threads and weaving in new ones. These multiple stitch row patterns can also make a tonal design element without the weaving. Add yarn weaving later and your friends and colleagues will think you have a new garment!

Use this embellishment technique on both ready-to-wear and custom-made garments.

Sewing choice

Machine stitches suitable for this technique have a wide stitch width (3 mm or more) with no intermediate stitch, as they extend across the entire width of the stitch. To highlight the weave, stitch with machine embroidery floss that matches or blends into the background of the fabric. To add a little sparkle, use metallic thread. Heavy stitches like rickrack or triple zigzag stitches, blanket, ladder and satin block stitches will be more visible than those with less stitch repeat. Lightweight stitches include standard zigzag, universal or elastic casing stitch, blind hem, and some overlock or overlock stitches. (Figure 2).

Figure 2
Figure 2

Weaving materials

Use decorative threads, threads, cords or ribbons that can be woven under the machine's cross stitches. If they can be threaded through a double-eyed needle, they can probably be used for weaving. There are several companies that package 5-10 yard assortments of thread in a particular color group – these cards contain plenty of thread for an average project. If the threads are thin, twist them and weave two together. Add ribbon or other cording to the mix for added texture or to pack a punch of color.

Weaving notions

Double-eyed needle
Figure 3

Use a double-eyed needle for the weaving process (Figure 3). The flat, blunt end allows the needle to easily pass under stitches, especially those with repeating stitch patterns. Any thread, ribbon or cord that can be threaded through a double-eyed needle can be used for stitching and weaving.

Other notions include:

  • Water or air soluble marker pen for marking basic sewing lines on fabric
  • Sealant to prevent cut ends of yarn or yarn from fraying
  • Detachable stabilizer to place under the design area when sewing

The Basics of Stitch ‘N Weave

Always check the compatibility of your stitch and thread combination before starting the actual project. And be sure to take a test drive using your weaving materials with different stitches on your project fabric.


Trace the pattern lines on the right side of the fabric with the marker. Then place the detachable stabilizer under the design area.

Sew with machine embroidery thread in the needle and all-purpose or bobbin thread in the bobbin. If the underside of the project won't be hidden by covering, use matching thread in the bobbin for a neater look.

After sewing, secure the ends of the thread. The tear-away stabilizer can be removed before or after weaving is completed.


Thread one end of the double-eyed needle with thread and weave the unthreaded end over and under the long stitches. Use one or more wires – whatever will fit under the wires.

Work with strands approximately 18″ in length or less and keep one end of the single strand near the eye of the threaded needle. Or, for a border, stripe, or as a trim on the edge of a garment, use short pieces of thread with strands of the same length and weave them between two rows of stitching, cutting the threads to remove the needle . (Figure 4).

Figure 4

To secure the strands when you begin weaving, pass the ends over one or more points on the machine, as with a backstitch. (Figure 5). Weave short spans, pulling the strand(s) through a loop or knot as desired.

Figure 5
Figure 5

Backstitch near the end of the weave to secure the final end. The finishing ends of the threads can be woven into the pattern and hidden, or they can be left free for a fringe effect.

Use a seam sealant to prevent ends from fraying or to keep chenille-type threads from losing their lint.

~This is an edited and updated article containing content originally written by Sallie J Russell and inspired by her book, Dynamic Dimensional Designs (printed with permission).

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