You probably own a lot of presser feet for your machine(s), but truth be told, we only use a few regularly: the straight stitch foot, the zigzag or satin stitch foot and the zipper foot. What about all those other ones hanging around in the accessories box? Let's take a look at a pretty awesome foot: the fringe (or tailor's stitch) foot.
This unique leg has a vertical bar in the middle. When you sew a wide zigzag, the raised loops slide off the back of the foot. Check with your dealer for a machine-specific version or look for a generic version that will fit.
This foot was originally designed for tailor's machine tacks, those tiny groups of threads that mark darts and other design details on a garment. But creative types have gone beyond tailor's tacks for some creative uses, hence this foot's alternative name: fringe foot.
To use this foot for marking, simply sew the two layers of the cut garment pieces and the paper pattern using a wide zigzag and a very short stitch length. Sew four or five times to mark the stitches. Gently pull the paper up and separate the layers of the garment, then cut the threads between them. The threads clearly mark details and stay in place until sewn, then they are easily removed.
This specialized foot can be used to create decorative stitching. Release the upper thread tension and set the machine for a wide zigzag with a short length (test stitch). Place the garment pieces right sides together and sew along the seam line. Once the seam is sewn, gently separate the layers and open the seam allowances. The thread loops are now flattened and extend over the edges of the seam to create a narrow opening. The seam can be left like this or you can topstitch each side for added stability. This type of sewing is primarily decorative and should not be used in highly stressed areas.
Decorative faux fagot stitch
If you've sewn the bridge seam, don't stop there: add another decorative touch. Change the presser foot to a straight stitch or all-purpose foot and set the machine for a straight stretch stitch. This makes two stitches forward and one stitch back, creating a prominent straight stitch. Hold both sides of the bridge stitch flat and sew down the center, taking care not to trap the edges of the fabric. As you sew, moving this stitch back and forth groups the bridge stitches into small “bundles.”
The bridge stitch, whether grouped or plain, makes a perfect center for creating a wider border. Sew a large decorative stitch on each side of the openwork, using your mirror feature for symmetry. The decorative stitch should barely touch the bridge stitches.
This foot can be used to make either an eyelash fringe (cut on one side), a curly fringe, either on a fabric base or on the edge of the project. When sewn onto fabric, multiple rows can be sewn side by side to create a looped texture (think lion's mane), or the loop stitches can be used to outline an appliqué.
When sewn as an edge finish, the fringe (cut or looped) can be combined with a decorative stitch.
Set your machine for the widest zigzag and turn the wheel by hand to make sure the needle goes over the bar. Use a contrasting thread in the bobbin. Adjust the stitch length to the desired density and test the stitch to ensure the loops slide easily from the back of the bar. Sew the fringe line, then switch presser feet and sew along one edge, anchoring the stitch loops. On the wrong side, remove the contrasting bobbin thread and use a pin to pull the fringe loops to the right side. The curls can be left as is or cut to form an eyelash fringe.
To sew a fringed edge, use the same machine setup but place a piece of removable stabilizer along the finished edge of the project. Sew the fringe by grabbing the interfacing on the right edge. Sew the edge of the fringe straight or decoratively, remove the bobbin thread, then remove the stabilizer. The bangs can be left curled or cut.
You can use a slightly heavier weight of yarn, plain or variegated. But be sure to test the stitch first to make sure the stitch density and thicker thread will allow the loops of thread to slide off the back of the vertical bar easily, otherwise you'll get an unsightly jam. Adjust either for smooth seams.
Most of the images in this article were provided with compliments of Bernina.
~Linda Griepentrog is the owner of G Wiz Creative Services and she writes, edits, and designs for businesses in the sewing, crafting, and quilting industries. Additionally, she accompanies fabric shopping tours in Hong Kong. She lives on the Oregon Coast with her husband Keith and three dogs, Yohnuh, Abby and Lizzie. Contact her at .