bernina circular foot ~ fun decorative stitching!

MarveLes Art StudiosBlogs, Tutorial 6 Comments

hi friends !

it’s really been fun to relax, and play with some of the tools i’ve had in my sewing studio, and really begin to explore them, just a bit more.

today’s post is about a simple little tool; the “circular foot attachment,” {bernina #83} and it works in conjunction with another foot, such as an open toe foot or clear embroidery foot.  i prefer the #20 open toe foot as i enjoy using the placement advantage it gives me, using the inside, or outside edges of the toes of the foot, as well as an open view.

now the #83 foot {for bernina} attachment is common to many other brands of machine, and it’s been around for ages.  it’s quite a lot of fun, i’ve enjoyed mine tremendously.  {as you can see from the beat up box it comes in}.  

keep in mind… this attachment keeps your stitching perfectly circular, and if you apply a little creative imagination, you can also overlap, cut away layers by stacking multiple layers, make your appliqués, and well, the list goes on! 

“the circular embroideryCircular embroidery attachment # 83 lets you embroider unusual and decorative circles or semicircles. The attachment is screwed to the free-arm. The center of rotation can be either to the right or left of the needle, with the attaching screw lying flat enough to allow the fabric to feed smoothly over it. A diameter of between 1 and 5/16″ inches (2.5 and 13.5 cm) can be set on the slide.”

i used two pieces of my own hand dyed fabric, layered with stabilizer.  i used two pieces so i could cut away and create more color and design:

it is absolutely essential to stabilize the fabric! you will eliminate puckered stitches if you do!  i used a heavy weight variety; either cut away, or tear away will work:

did you notice the tension of the stitching?  i want to see a good outline of top thread, being pulled to the back of my piece, as i do not want bobbin thread to be showing on the top.  i love the look of satiny, shiny, and perfectly stitched, decorative stitches!  so if your test stitches indicate that some  of the bobbin thread is showing… lower your top tension.  keep in mind that many decorative stitches have a “default” tension setting, so pay attention to your machine screen, and adjust, or if it doesn’t appear on your screen, adjust the tension dial accordingly.

these are my three layers; two of fabric, one of stabilizer

hint:  stitch at a medium speed… not too fast, as you may find that the decorative stitches don’t “complete” their sequence quite as nicely. be patient. this is a technique that requires a bit more time, but the results are worth it, as it’s pretty dang cool to stitch perfect circles.

and to stack different stitching motifs on top of each other… to cut away fabric in between… to create a design mandala {for lack of a better term} that makes you and your stitching look like a dream come true!

hint:  when you get to the end of closing off your stitched circle… engage the “pattern end” function, {if you have one} so you don’t have to count … and ensure that your stitches meet up naturally.  when it is time to enclose the circle, i stop, approximately three stitch motifs from the end, and adjust as needed, either holding the fabric just a tad, or pushing it forward just a tad, so that the ends meet.  

hint: engaging needle down is really important.  

hint:  it’s fun to use your mirror imaging to change the stitch pattern direction!  this is fun to stack with other decorative stitches, and in effect… create your own! 

hint: with a bernina machine, it’s easy to adjust your stitch width as you sew... no need to stop.  so don’t hesitate to figure it out ~ adjust and fine-tune your sewing skills to enhance the results of your fun with this technique!

i love heavy, perfect satin-stitched, decorative stitches!  the orange scallop sequence seen in the above photo.  

hint: as i came to enclose the circle, i reduced the width ever-so-slightly, so i couldn’t see any fabric in between each thread … i love it!  

and… i used magnifico thread.  beautiful!

see the hole in the middle of the stabilizer, shown below?  that is because this attachment uses a sharp tack, onto which the fabric sandwich rotates.  it’s easy to make different size circles, as the attachment also slides from center, to wider circles, as they encompass the tack.  i always try to use the same center hole, when i want perfect circles.

to see more… visit for a video of how this attachment works!  this video is well done, and shows the attachment and all of it’s parts, {it’s pretty straight forward ~ don’t be scared!}, and shows the how-to of attaching the attachment!  … and many other great ideas for other ways to creatively use your decorative stitches!

i hope you will!  it’s fun, and easy.  and a great technique to take advantage of some wonderful stitches in every machine!

this was a fun practice piece, and when the stitch density is to thick, it’s easy to tear away the stabilizer.  i think i will batt these samples, and quilt in the outside… i may add some couching with dazzle dazzle thread, too!  

and… they will be used as decorative table centers, candle mats… and wonderful eye candy on any surface in your home!

happy days.  

Comments 6

  1. Your circle stitchery is so inspiring! I have used the circle attachment, but never thought to layer fabrics. I see some playing in my near future! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Hi Leslie…..I have had this circle attachment for years and have never taken it out of the box… have inspired me to play with it.

    Many Thanks,
    LuAnn in Oregon

  3. STUNNING…just stunning! I am loving those coasters below and it gives me a little idea for something i am doing 🙂
    Leslie, I do so LOVE your posts!

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