Part 2 Necessary Notions: Stitch Plates

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Here’s a TIP for you.  Did you know that many of the ‘Pro’ quilters and precision piecers  use a  straight stitch plate?  Whether it’s for free motion quilting, piecing or sewing, it’s a nice advantage.  These are the reasons why:

  • less movement of fabric, so there is more stability in stitching, as there is less fabric in contact with the feed dogs
  • fabric doesn’t get pulled down into the needle hole, especially when you begin stitching
  • a straight stitch plate allows for  ‘straighter’ stitches in free motion quilting AND is really a huge benefit if you are loving precision piecing!
  • especially  helpful with the 9mm rotary hook system providing matching fabric support under the foot, promoting perfect stitch quality even in delicate or difficult fabrics 
  • straight stitch plates (at least for Bernina machines) are available for ALL machines, from  a basic 5.5 mm machine, to the top-of-the-line 9mm machines
  • what is a 5.5 machine? 9mm machine? It’s pretty STRAIGHT-forward!   5.5 mm machines stitch only up to a 5.5 stitch WIDTH.  9mm machines stitch up to a 9mm width, providing you with more variety of widths.Typically, they have different rotary/cb hook systems as well. (my information is based on Bernina machines) but check with your particular machine dealer if you don’t own a Bernina.

    The picture above shows two different plates.  The one on the left is my straight stitch plate.  Notice the tiny round hole for the needle to enter.  On the right, is my  “standard” or most common, stitch plate that all machines come equipped with.  It has an oval, or elongated hole for the needle to pass through… and of course you would need this plate to do any zig zag or decorative type stitches.

    And here’s a big VIP:  You always want to engage a safety function on your machine!   Once engaged, then the machine won’t allow a selection of any type of wide stitch such as a zig zag and thus will prevent you from sewing a stitch that will break your needle!  This is something you may want to consider when upgrading, or buying any sewing machine.  I LOVE my security/safety functionality on my Berninas.  It looks like a “yield” sign, and once you’ve engaged it, that sign turns red, and will stay red until you disengage it! … or as I sometimes refer when teaching “it’s the  warning sign that you will on the backside of the Amish buggies!”

    It’s easy to use!  Just pop out the standard stitch plate, and pop in the straight stitch one.  And yes… I think it makes a big difference when you want your stitches to LOOK REALLY GOOD, and so I have invested in a straight stitch plate, and use it quite often in my “free motion quilting (but not for free motion zig zag*).  I’m don’t do  alot of precise piecing, but I still use it for my quarter inch seams, and it works beautifully.  It’s a worthwhile accessory, and I can see the difference in my stitches when I’m using it.  It will cost upwards of $40-$60 depending on your machine and size of the plate.  For example, a 5.5 mm stitch plate will cost less than one for a wider 9mm machine.

    For more questions, leave me a comment and I’ll gladly do my best to give you more direction.  OR contact your local machine dealer. AND… did you know that our local BERNINA SILVER THIMBLE here in Great Falls will order parts for ANY type of MACHINE?  It doesn’t have to be a “Bernina” you know!  They are, after all, “sewing machine enthusiasts!” 

    Happy sewing!

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