How to make a stitch Bible

Inspired by Carol Ann Waugh


Sadly, most of you missed the July workshop with Carol Ann Waugh. One of the things everyone learned was how to use the decorative stitches on our sewing machines to make fabric art pieces. Yes, we all know about the fun stitches on our machines, but most of us don’t use them, and if we do we certainly don’t use them to their fullest. Everyone learned SO MUCH in the Carol Waugh workshop – even long term quilters were delighted at the different ways to use those stitches. 

One of the things that Carol had was a ‘stitch bible’ she made to reference all the stitches from her Bernina machine. You would be surprised at how the stitches look quite different from the illustrations on the cards/instruction booklets that come with your machine. But the main reason to stitch out all the stitches is to see the “hidden” stitches in your machine that you can make simply by varying the stitch length and width.

In September Marguerita McManus will be our speaker and we’re going to use the same technique of decorative stitches but this time we’ll use it to enhance our quilts


Just as Carol encourages students to make their own stitch bible for their sewing machine prior to taking her Stupendous Stitching class, we are encouraging you to make your own Stitch Bible before the September guild meeting/workshop. Once you make your stitch bible, you will find yourself using it all the time as your handy reference guide when creating fun quilts or fabulous fiber art. 

This blog is the tutorial AND THE LINK to the youtube video that will show you how to make your own stitch bible.  Put “Make a Stitch Bible” on your To Do list. 


1) Several pieces of BATIK fabric – approximately 9x12. You want to use batik fabric because the denser weave means the stitches won’t sink down into the fabric. This will allow you to get 4 pieces of fabric from a fat quarter. Don't worry if all your pieces aren't the quite the same size ... you'll square them up when you're done stitching. 

The number of pages you’ll make will be determined by the number of decorative stitches on your machine. Each fabric page will have 12 lines of decorative stitches. So for example, if you have 60 stitches on your machine, you’ll want to make 5 pages with 12 stitches each page. MAKE A COUPLE OF EXTRA SQUARES TO PRACTICE BEFORE YOU START YOUR STITCH BIBLE! 

Choose bright fabrics AND HIGH CONTRAST THREAD COLORS for each page. It not only makes the pages pretty and interesting, but you can really get a feel for the stitches when they’re bold. And high contrast is easier on the eyes. 

2) An assortment of colorful threads. You can use cotton thread but what makes these stitches really pretty not only in the stitch bible but on the quilts are the colorful embroidery threads. You can use inexpensive embroidery thread for this project. Just make sure that you use a contrasting thread with each fabric page. 

3) Because you are doing decorative stitching on one layer of fabric, you will need to back your fabric with a stabilizer. I use a heavy-weight fusible stabilizer manufactured by Pellon (931TD). You can find this at Sew Steamboat or at Walmart if they don’t have any. 

4) Black fine point magic marker– to write down each stitch number by the decorative stitch. 

5) Black Rattail Nylon Satin Cord. You will use this bind your pages in Carol’s VERY easy binding method. You can find it on Amazon, it’s very inexpensive, and you can get it delivered Prime shipping. 

6) Small Grommets and metal rings to put the pages together. We’ll bring a grommet fastener and extra grommets to the workshop in September to help you put your stitch bible together. 


1. Count the stitches on your machine, including the utility stitches 1-20. Divide by 12 and this will give you the number of fabric squares (pages) you’ll need.

2. Iron on the Pellon 931 onto the back of each fabric square

3. Divide the width of your square into 12 equal parts with a margin. This will help you know where to stitch your decorative lines. 


6. To start stitching … Start at the top left corner of a square with the first stitch on your machine (usually stitch #1) and sew a line of decorative stitching from top to bottom. HOWEVER … you will divide that vertical line into thirds! The first third will be the decorative stitch at it’s normal width and stitch length. The second third you will alter the width. The third third you will alter the length. This gives you 3 distinct looks for each stitch. You’ll see what I mean when you do your practice square. And don’t forget to stitch out the utility stitches (usually numbers 1-20) since there are some interesting stitches that you’ll be surprised how decorative they can be. 

7. Write the stitch number next to each stitch at the top with a permanent marker. This will give you your reference to the stitches and their numbers on your sewing machine.

8. Once you have stitched out all the decorative machine stitches, trim the pages so they are the same size and fuse them together, back-to-back. You will then finish off the edges with Carol’s easy Rattail Binding Technique - watch her helpful video here:

9. To put all your stitch pages together, use grommets and put two holes in the sides of the pages and then hook everything together with metal rings. 

Here are some youtube links of using decorative stitches that you might find interesting ... (at about 6mins you'll see her beautiful stitch bible). You can her full tutorial for making a stitch bible on (formerly Craftsy) at 

Other videos you may find interesting on decorative stitching:

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