Sewing with a Twist - Yarn, That Is!

Sewing with a twist—yarn, that is!
No, there isn’t a machine sewing needle with a giant eye that lets us sew with yarn (yet), but there are several ways you can incorporate yarn into your work.
Couching: Stitch over beautiful yarns and let their twisted strands show through the stitching. Most machine brands offer a multiple-hole foot that allows 3, 5 or 7 strands to be threaded through the holes in front and then routed under the foot. Use decorative thread to stitch over the top to create a braid-like appearance. If you want the yarn to take center stage on its own, stitch with transparent thread that disappears into the yarn twists.

Yarns couched with decorative stitches Yarn was couched with transparent thread to create stems, photo courtesy of Bernina

Your machine may also have a braiding and/or cording foot with an opening that yarn can fit through, either a single strand or multiple strands. The machine stitching holds it in place almost invisibly, as the stitches sink into the yarn surface.

Braid foot with eyelash yarn, photo courtesy of Viking

Bobbinwork: Lightweight yarns work perfectly when hand-wound onto the bobbin and stitched with the wrong side of the fabric up. Known as bobbinwork, this technique allows you to showcase small yarns and threads that are too large to be stitched traditionally. Either a colored thread or transparent can be used through the needle, but if you want the yarn to be the star, adjust the tension so that only the yarn shows on the fabric surface, not any of the needle thread.

Decorative bobbin work, photo courtesy of Bernina

Free-motion work: If you’re skilled at free-motion stitching, thread up the machine with transparent (or matching) thread on top and a neutral bobbin thread. Set the machine for free-motion work which involves inactivating the feed-dogs, either by covering them or lower them. (Consult your owner’s manual for your machine’s setting.)

Yarn flower using free-motion technique

Using free-motion stitching, you can move the fabric and yarn wherever you want, catching only the edge or singular points of the twists, depending on how much you want the stitching to show. Make flowers, coils or any shape you can envision, and lightly tack the yarn in place, moving the fabric around freely. The amount of stitching you do will determine how much it actually shows on the finished project.

Remember Coats Transparent polyester thread comes in both clear and smoke, depending on what yarn color you’re working with. Choose the color that shows the least over your strands.

Coats Transparent Polyester Thread- Smoke Coats Transparent Polyester Thread- Clear