Friday, October 17, 2014

10 + Tips for Stitching on Paper!

Sewing on paper is “sew” much fun!  You can create a great textural and visual element on just about any project. I love the way you can add an extra pizzazz or homespun feel with just a bit of thread!!

Check out my 10 + tips for stitching on paper!

Did you know that any sewing machine can stitch on paper, thin plastic, thin craft metal, and other surfaces if you use the right needle and techniques? It's true! Try it out for yourself and let me know how it goes.

"Quilted" paper using zigzag stitch

  • If you will be stitching on lots of thick layers, use a heavy duty sewing machine needle…size 90/14 or 100/16. You want one that will sew on jeans or thick canvas. If you will stitch on one or two layers of thin paper only, you can use a smaller needle like 70/10 or 80/12. Remember, the larger the number, the larger the needle point.  The larger needles will leave a larger hole in your surface.

Using the stripes on a patterned paper can help you stitch in a 
straight line if you have problems with that, like me! ;-)

  • Keep your paper-crafting needle separate from the needles you use for fabric. Sewing on paper will dull the needle much quicker than sewing on fabric. You don’t want to ruin your fabric projects by sewing with a dull needle! When the needle you use for fabric is getting dull and you are ready to replace it, save it in a labeled area on your pin cushion for paper stitching and other “extreme” sewing. 
  • If you are going to be adhering your papers together before sewing, don’t allow any of the adhesive to get on the area where you will be stitching as the adhesive will gum up the needle. Maybe only add a bit of glue runner to the center of the paper and stitch along the edges.
  • You don’t need to backstitch when stitching on paper. Leave a tail of thread at the beginning and ending of your stitches. Pull all the threads to the back of your work and tie in a knot to secure.
  • Use a long stitch when you sew on paper, like a 3.5, 4 or 5. Short stitches will perforate the paper.
  • Stitch slowly.
  • Try a straight stitch, zigzag or other “open” decorative stitches. like in the photo below.
  • If you will be using a very thin paper, try backing it with regular craft felt to make it sturdier. Or use a tear-away stabilizer.

Before: In this photo, below, I've free motion stitched without a stabilizer. 
See all the puckers? 

After: But if you use a stabilizer, like I used in the photo below, your papers, 
especially thin ones, will lay flatter.

  • If you have never sewn on paper before, try a practice run on a scrap piece to get the hang of it and decide on needle size. You don’t want to “mess up” something you have worked hard on.
  • Don’t worry about perfection…the homespun look with irregular stitching and imperfect lines are fine!
  • Have fun!

Leave me a comment below about some of your paper stitching adventures!


  1. I stitch on paper a lot. I love to make pockets to hold other things. I also edge stitch on many papers. Thnx for the other tips, especially stabalizer. I use my small craft machine, but sometimes use my real machine. Gracie T

  2. I was debating on what type of fabric to use. I didn't want to use canvas, cross stitch fabric or katcha. So, off to my fabric and table cloth stash I went and pulled out some burlap/jute. best embroidery machine

  3. Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.
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