Happy February everyone!  Can you believe that we are only 3 months away from Otafest?! I sure can’t! The planning staff is all working super hard at putting together the best Otafest ever and we can’t wait to see everyone again!  We have so many cool things planned this year and I can’t wait to share it all with you!

This month I’d like to go over the different types of stitches you’ll typically see in sewn cosplay costumes and how to produce them. Now, I do both hand stitching and machine sewing, so I am going to cover both types, so don’t worry if you don’t have a sewing machine of your own! Both types of stitches can be really useful in different situations!

  1. Straight Stitch/Running Stitch  – – – – – – – –

This is the most basic stitch that you will see, either produced on a sewing machine or by hand.  It is just a series of small, linear stitches that is great for many purposes, including hemming, attaching trim, and edge finishing.  This is also a good stitch to use when connecting two pieces of fabric together (like the sides of a shirt) because, when ironed out flat, it creates a straight line.  When doing a straight stitch by hand, make sure to not bunch up the fabric and make sure the stitch is snug but not too tight, or else you’ll end up with wrinkles when you knot it off at the end.  Also, when hand-stitching a straight stitch, you will end up with small spaces between your stitches. If you don’t want those spaces, you should look maybe at a…

  • Back Stitch  ————-

This stitch is a different variation of the straight or running stitch and is closer to what a straight stitch looks like when done by a sewing machine.  When you perform this stitch by hand, you almost have to work backward, as you start the stitch at the furthest part of the stitch and then come back in next, to the end of the previous stitch, which ends up using a bit more thread. The visual look is a nice solid line, so sometimes this is a nice stitch to use if it is going to be seen on top of a piece, like around a collar or top seam.

  • Zig Zag Stitch  /\/\/\/\/\

Another very basic stitch, easily done on both a sewing machine and by hand. This stitch gives you a slightly more secure seam because of the angles and increased amount of thread used per inch of sewing, so this is handy to use when securing a seam next to a straight stitch.  This is also a good stitch to use when applying lining or batting to the inside of a piece of fabric, something that needs to be strong but won’t be visible on the outside. Zig zag stitch is also ideal to use when working with stretchy materials! With stretch fabrics, any straight stitch you put in will pop as soon as you pull on the material. With zig-zap stitch, it will stretch along with the material – this is something to test and play with when you first get your fabrics.

  • Blanket Stitch  TTTTTTTT

I love using the blanket stitch when making bags, pouches, or even plush accessories. This stitch is done by hand and is designed to connect two pieces of fabric together that will lay flat (like in a bag) and will be seen on the outside of the finished piece.  This makes a neat accent to many projects, especially if you use thicker thread like embroidery floss or even yarn because it stands out and looks really fancy.  The only thing to keep in mind with this stitch is that the edge of the fabrics used will be unfinished, so try and use fabrics that won’t fray, like felt, leather, or even a thin plastic.

  • Satin Stitch  IIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

This stitch is an embroidery stitch that is used to fill in shapes, like flowers and symbols. It creates a nice colored patch of thread that stands out because of its texture and height from the surface of the fabric. This stitch can sometimes be achieved with a regular sewing machine if you play with your zig-zag settings and have it very close together. Some of the more advanced machines may have embroidery options on them which can be used for amazing results, but it’s just as easy (if time-consuming) to accomplish the same look by hand.

  • Cross Stitch  XXXXXXXX

This is another embroidery stitch, but instead of one large block of color like with the satin stitch, this is a stitch made up of lots of tiny X stitches arranged in rows. You will often see this stitch in tapestry pieces, but it can also be used in embroidering symbols or nice borders onto costumes as well.  One thing my mom taught me when doing cross stitch is to always work in the same direction so that the top stitch of the X is always going in the same direction.  It makes for a nicer stitch and doesn’t distract visually from the completed piece!

  • Serger Stitch  WWWWW

This is a stitch that can’t be done with a standard sewing machine. Instead, it can only be done by a special machine called a serger. This machine performs a very special stitch that is made up of 4 different threads instead of a standard machine’s two, and also has a cutting edge on it that actually finishes the edge of the seam as well with the stitch.  This is the stitch that you will see on the edges of most commercially made clothing as it is the fastest and most secure stitch for finishing garments.  If you are lucky enough to have access to a serger, definitely take advantage of it! It can be a godsend if you are working with materials that love fraying, like costume satin. A small zig-zag stitch can be an alternative to finishing edges as well – it can help hold in the fraying edge, but again, experiment.

That’s all for me today, have fun with your needles and thread this month and I can’t wait to see what you all come up with for Otafest!  Keep your eyes open over the next couple of weeks to the Otafest social media pages as well as the website, registration for our Cosplay events is opening very soon!