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How to Make a Zigzag Stitch with a Sewing Machine

Learn how to make a zigzag stitch with a sewing machine from designer Jennifer Wiese in this Howcast tutorial.


Hi, I'm Jennifer from Workroom Social. Let's talk about sewing zigzag stitches. The first thing that you want to do when you're sewing a zigzag is to change your machine from straight stitch to zigzag. On my sewing machine, I have a section here called pattern, which is the different stitch types, and I'm going to twist the dial until I get to my zigzags.

Now, on my machine the stitch width for zigzags, so if you're going zigzag it's how wide the zigzag is, that's in the same area as the stitch selector. On your machine you might have a separate width dial, but I don't. I'm going to go ahead and set mine to as wide as it can possibly go, the widest zigzag.

Now I'm going to go to my stitch length. The stitch length on a zigzag is how far apart each stitch is. So you can have a really long zigzag or you could have a very short zigzag. I'm going to do in the middle, I'll just do 2.5. Then you are almost ready to go.

One of the most important things that you have to remember if you're going to do zigzag is you have to change your presser foot. Right now the presser foot that is set on my machine is for straight stitching only. You can see the little tiny hole the needle goes into. When we sew zigzag the needle bounces from left to right, so if we did that on this foot we would break our needle and possibly break the machine. What I'm going to do on my machine is I have a quick release lever and I'm just going to push that and the foot comes right off, set that aside.

Now I'm going to use this foot which has a wide opening for the needle so the needle can bounce left to right on our zigzags. I'm just going to put that on and then I'm going to take my needle thread and put it underneath the presser foot and put both threads towards the back of the machine. Now we're ready to stitch our zigzag. I'm going to take this fabric and we're going to fold it in half as if we're stitching two pieces of fabric together.

We're going to put it underneath the presser foot, put it down. We're using our 5/8ths of an inch seam guide on the right, fabric to the left. Then we're just going to sew our zigzag. You can see what's happening here, our needle is on the right and now it bounces to the left, to the right and to the left. Just to show you, if you change the width of your zigzag, this zigzag is really wide.

We just made a more narrow zigzag and then let's show you a short zigzag. We can compare these stitches to see what all these different zigzags look like. Here we have a stitch length of 2.5, it's 2.5 from each peak, and then this is also a stitch length 2.5 from each peak. Here we've just changed the width so this is a wider zigzag and this is a more narrow zigzag. Then on this last stitching we've changed the length as well, so now from each peak there's less of a space. I went down to almost a 1, so almost 1 millimeter between each of these peaks. That's how you sew zigzags.

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