The Free Motion Quilting Project: How to Test Decorative Sewing Machine Stitches

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How to Test Decorative Sewing Machine Stitches

I've been living with Dad for a week after his hip replacement and decided I couldn't live for an entire week without a sewing machine. I popped home and grabbed my Viking Ruby, a vintage cherry red cam sewing machine.

Vintage Viking Ruby sewing machine
While I love her color and beautiful decorative stitches operated by the cam system, I haven't had the time to get to know Ruby very well. First I couldn't find feet at any Viking dealers, then once I found the feet online, I just got too busy with other projects to really put Ruby through her paces.

But this week I've had a lot more time to kick back and stitch in between running errands and cooking meals for Dad. I decided the best way to get to know Ruby was to make a stitch sampler of all her decorative stitches. Check out how I tested the decorative stitches in this quick sewing tip video:

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How to test decorative sewing machine stitches
The cam system is super cool and it's been lots of fun to play with the different stitches and to see how changing the stitch length and width change the appearance of the decorative stitch.

I learned to make a stitch sampler like this from Carol Ann Waugh's class Stupendous Stitching. She uses the decorative stitches to make fantastic art quilts, but it all starts with knowing what your stitches look like and how they can be changed in creative ways to create different effects.

Trying out every single decorative stitch on the Viking Ruby is definitely helping me get to know this machine and the nuances of sewing with it. This was really useful because yesterday I put her to the test at James's school. I helped work the sewing station at Pioneer Day and worked with kids and other moms to finish 33 9-patch pillows!

Leah Day Viking Ruby sewing machine

I also brought my Essex hand crank machine for fun so the kids could crank the handle while I positioned their pillow under the foot. The kids LOVED hand cranking and seeing all the parts of the little machine move.

So that's what I've been up to this week!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. Oh that machine is very similar to my mom's old machine. It finally died, but it was a loyal workhorse until it did.

  2. You are so creative . . . thank you for this inspiring idea :)

  3. I like Ruby. Funny I see this today because today I brought my Viking into the shop in town for a cleaning. I got this machine back in 1983 and have used it as my back up machine. Felt it was time to have it pampered since my New Home is on it's last toe of it's last leg and I have at least 15 more custom quilt orders. It is nice to keep the older workhorses around isn't it? Have fun and I do hope your dad recovers quickly.


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