Sewing Hems With Decorative Stitches - Topic Overview and the Shell Tuck Edge Stitch

Hi Everyone! Welcome to the topic of sewing hems with decorative stitches! If you're like me, you might have a machine that offers a variety of decorative stitches and you haven't experimented with them enough! The straight stitch - check! The zigzag stitch - Sure! But the shell tuck edge stitch, the drawn stitch, hmmm, not sure those come to mind when I'm working on my projects. This month we are going to take a look at a few of them and show you how to use them to create a variety of unique hems for your different projects!

For this topic, Shari and I are doing a little tag-team teaching - yay! I'll kick things off with a few that I love to use and she'll wrap things up with a few of her favorites!

The Sewing Hems With Decorative Stitches Topic Will Include:

  • Part 1 - Topic Overview, Shell Tuck Edge Stitch (Knits and Wovens)
  • Part 2 - The Cresent Stitch & More on Denim!
  • Part 3 - The Fagoting (or Bridge Stitch) 
  • Part 4 - The Drawn Stitch

Are you ready? Let's go...


Patterns used in this weeks video examples:

Liberty Jane Lace Overlay Tank Top available in two sizes, the KNC size will also fit Gotz Hannah and Happy Kidz.


Liberty Jane Off The Shoulder Tee available in three sizes, the BFC top could also work for AGAT or WW, The Barbie size could also work for Blythe, Pullip, or Kruselings.


Week One task:

  • Watch the videos and follow along to practice this stitch on your own.
  • Grab your sewing machine manual (or simply google search your machine model and "shell tuck edge stitch") to figure out which stitch selection to use. If your machine model doesn't have a dedicated stitch for this, you can substitute an "overcast stitch" just make sure the overcasting is being stitched over the folded edge of the hem. Notice how we flipped our sample when we used our stitch #18 on the woven top.
  • Cut a few strips of fabric (a few inches wide is perfect). Practice sewing the hemline on the scrap strips. Test out the stitch width, length, and tension settings.
  • Note - To create a more pronounced scallop, increase the tension.
  • Select your project pattern. We used the LJ Lace Overlay Tank Top (but just one layer) and the LJ Off The Shoulder Tee (made in a woven). But you can choose any pattern that has hems!
  • Press your hem allowance and then position your fabric under the presser foot being sure that the fold is aligned with the center guide to ensure that the stitch will wrap the folded edge of the hem.
  • Jump over the SWC Facebook Group for conversation and project sharing.

Part 1 Tutorial - The Shell Tuck Edge Stitch:

What is the Shell Stitch?

The Shell Stitch often referred to as the Picot edge stitch, is used to create a delicate shell or scallop tucks along the folded edge of the fabric. It is formed by sewing several straight stitches towards the left side and then one single stitch that extends out to the right, wrapping the edge of the fabric to create a tuck. The repeating pattern od this stitch creates tiny scallops. It is often used on lightweight knit fabrics, but can also be used on lightweight wovens too. Just experiment with your machine tension to get the desired "tuck" for your fabric type. If your machine doesn't have this stitch specifically, you can substitute for an overcasting stitch to create a similar look.

Do I need special attachments or tools to sew this stitch?

This is a great decorative stitch to sew with because it doesn't require special accessories! You use your standard sewing machine foot (for a zigzag or satin stitch). Choose your needle and thread based on your fabric choice. 


If you're interested in more decorative stitches and how to use them, I recommend this book - Super Stitches Sewing by Nicole Vasbinder. This essential guide to machine and hand stitches will teach you how to use any and every stitch for professional-looking seams, hems, gathers, darts, and more. Unlock your full sewing potential with 57 machine stitches, 18 hand stitches, and tips to choose the correct needles, threads, and sewing machine accessories, complete with detailed step-by-step tutorials and illustrations.



Next Tuesday - Part 2: We'll experiment with decorative stitches along the hemline of tiny little cut off shorts! 



    May 01, 2020

    Super Stitches Sewing has been remaindered, but there are a few copies available on ebay.


    April 09, 2020

    I have been wanting to learn how to make a shell stitch hem correctly. My one try didn’t turn out well. Thanks for this class.


    April 09, 2020

    How awesome is this ! Great idea for many different garment edgings. Thanks for all the tips.

    Diane R
    Diane R

    April 08, 2020

    I would like to know how to do this on machines that don’t have decorative stitching? Mine is an old Singer that has a straight stitch and a zig zag stitch.

    Pamela W
    Pamela W

    April 08, 2020

    I think the stitch you called “Stitch 18” looks like a hem stitch for an invisible hem.

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