Postcard Zig Zag and a Tutorial

MarveLes Art StudiosBlogs, Mixing It Up 6 Comments

Temporary Altered Stitch Memory.  In my humble opinion, one of THE most under-used and not very well understood feature on Bernina sewing machines.  If you use it, then you already know how valuable it can be. I love this feature, and I use it all the time, as well as every time I sew a zig zag edge on my postcards. 

The picture above shows a postcard that has been mostly finished with stitching.  I’m just going to end my stitching (above) with my altered straight stitch. 

When I first begin to stitch on the postcard edge, I set my straight stitch to .50 to .70 in length. The picture below shows a top ‘blinking bar’ as I call it, much like a cursor on a computer screen, (which this really is). It indicates the default setting of the straight stitch.  It also shows the stitch set at a .70 (see it on the far left of the top left of the sewing machine screen).  You can also see the needle position, as it happens to be set one position to the left of center.  The center dot has three dots. (See below).  Sometimes I prefer to go two positions to the left, too.

These straight stitch settings work in conjunction with the zig zag that I’m going to set next.  It is somewhat  relative to the width of your zig zag, so you may want to adjust one more needle position to the left, depending on how wide your zig zag is set. THE KEY is to set needle position so that both your straight stitch and your zig zag (the left swing of it) will match up… and overlap each other… so you can’t see where your straight stitch is (for the most part).   In the  picture below, my zig zag is set to a width of 5.8 (second set of numbers) and to a length of .90, or less is fine, too. You want a small stitch. One that won’t unravel.  Ever try to pick out those tiny little stitches?!  That’s what you WANT in this application!  But also not so tiny that they end up cutting through the cardstock paper on the back!

So I start out with the straight stitch. (And I end with it too). I’ve purposely set it for a very, very tiny stitch… this is to anchor my stitches so they won’t unravel, and to make it secure on the postcard.  I’m stitching through cardstock on the back… so I want to be careful not to cut through the paper… and so threads won’t unravel.  It’s a nice finish. You will hopefully see that the needle is just off center; positioned just one notch to the left for a reason I’ll explain further down. After 4 or 5 stitches, I switch to the zig zag, and stitch all around the postcard.  If necessary, I adjust my top tension by loosening it as needed, based on what the stitches are looking like.  I use a polyester thread 40 weight, on top, and a cotton (50 wt) or a polyester (40 weight) on the bobbin.

Just starting out here… And I use my #20 open toe foot. Love it in this application as it allows such great visibility, and a perfect guide. I use the inside edge of the right side toe as my guide, so that it rides on the outer edge of the postcard, (see pic above) so that I get perfect placement with the right hand swing of the needle coming off the edge of the postcard.  Why?  Because a Bernina “can sew on air” and still makes a great quality stitch.  This also keeps the needle from having to puncture the paper (which is on the backside of the card), which only helps that needle to stay sharper, longer.  Yes… paper will dull your needle quite quickly.  I’m using a 90/14 topstitch and/or microtex needle.

If you don’t like those settings, or wish to re-set them, you only need to hit ‘clr’ (button on the lower right).  Please know… it IS NOT NECESSARY TO TURN OFF YOUR MACHINE!  I see alot (I mean alot!) of ladies do this in classes… because they do not understand how stitches are saved/stored in the machine, or how to use their temporary altered stitch memory!  TASM for short or… (don’t have a spasm!)  TASM stays with your machine, saving the settings EXACTLY as you have modified them; whether it’s length, width, needle position or even tension settings (computerized tension settings only)… until you either clear them, OR… turn your machine off. If you’ve modified any stitch, hitting “clr” will always take your stitch to the default settings of width and length that were built into that stitch originally. That’s what a default setting is, plain and simple.

By the way, these pics were taken on my Bernina 450 9mm machine when I was at the cabin a few weeks ago, sewing on the postcards.  It is a lovely, mid-priced machine; about $1800 if you get it on sale.  I give personal lessons on it, too. Just so ya know. You don’t need a fancy machine to do these BASIC techniques!  Temporary Altered Stitch Memory is standard on all Bernina computerized machines, from the Activa line to the very top models.

If you would like a printed tutorial, I have one I’ve created.   I’ve drawn a diagram too.  If you think you might find these documents helpful to you, just contact me, and I will email it to you as a pdf document. You can then download and print it.

I hope this was helpful in some small way.  If not, please let me know, and I’ll do my best to clear it up for you.  Smiles!

Comments 6

  1. Hi I have just come across your blog and love the little bags you make. Please could you send me the altered stitch memory tutorial pdf. document if I am not too late (by a few years I think. I have a 430 and believe I should be able to do this Altered memory stitch thing on my machine. Many thanks, Rachel

  2. wow….searching aquabond I found you and this wonderful page. I am so excited….

    please send me the altered stitch membory tutorial pdf. document. I am wishing to make my Bernina "sing" like yours…

    thank you!!!!!!!

  3. Leslie,

    Your blog posts are always so informative. Dang, it's making me wish I had a Bernina so I could learn how to do this stuff! Really, even though it doesn't apply to my machine, this is a wonderful and practical tutorial!

  4. Yes, Lynn!!! IT IS wonderful on the buttonhole stitch and I am a fan of employing it in that decorative stitch!! You SEW girl!

  5. Oh yes please, Leslie. You are a wonder! AND, I just got my little couching quiltlet from 3CS Technique of the Month and I'm studying it carefully. It is just so beautiful. I am so blessed. Thank you muchly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *