Let’s cover a couple of tips and techniques on sewing a straight line and keeping the straight line straight.
The first thing we need to do is establish what seam allowance you want. If you want a quarter inch seam allowance you can use the lines on your bed. Sometimes you’ll have them just on the plate and sometimes you will have them along the edge of the bed. So if you want a quarter inch let’s check and make sure it’s exactly the quarter inch. Line up a ruler that has a quarter inch seam allowance and make sure that the needle is right on top of that line.
You’ll be able to use the straight lines on the bed and the straight lines on this edge of the bed. If you’re going to do any larger seam you can still do the same thing. You’re just going to need to put the needle right above the line of the seam allowance. Knowing the lines on your bed is going to help keep those seams straight because it’s very important when you are sewing that you’re not actually looking at that needle going up and down. Once the fabric has already hit that needle it’s really pretty much too late to straighten up your seam.
You need to look in this area here and sometimes even back here. Unless you’re actually getting right at a seam that you need to be very very precise at and you’re going to just walk that over there, you need to keep your eyes in this area. So once you’ve established what your seam allowance is going to be, there are some things you can do to help keep your stitching straight. And with some machines they will come with little pieces like this that screw right into the bed of the machine and you’re going to be able to adjust that to the proper seam allowance. And that means you’re going to be able to put that right up to that edge.
So if I’m going to sew a half inch seam. I’m going to be able to take this little guide and screw it right tight up against to that half inch. Now that’s going to be great if the fabric is going to be following along that edge, but it’s important to sometimes have a little marking at the bottom of the bed, and that’s where sticky note pads come in handy. You can use small ones and you can use large ones. Take a little bit so you’re going to have some thickness and depends on how thick your fabric is just take it right in half and you’re going to take that sticky part and then just take that and stick it right onto the bed of the machine. So now your fabric is going to be following this line here before it even gets to the needle.
You won’t have to worry about keeping your eye right here this is going to help keep you straight. The only thing you don’t want to do is cover the feed dogs. When you do have that thick layer, the fabric doesn’t want to go over it, so it’ll help you keep it in line. As you’re sewing the fabric is automatically going to stay against that line I’m not having to look at that needle going up and down, I’m just making sure that my fabric is straight along here.
When you’re sewing a long strip of fabric the other thing is to take consideration of the back. If your fabric is all crumpled into the back, it’s going to force the fabric to move into directions you don’t want it to go in. So it’s very important that the back of the machine stays clear and that the fabric is nice and flat, and that way your fabric in the front is not going to move. When you’re sewing something and it has heavy bulk onto one side, the fabric is going to want to pull to the bottom well because that’s what gravity does So we want to be able to keep the fabric onto the bed or onto the table that’s beside us so that it’s not pulling and it’s not pulling in any direction.
So it’s important if you are having a problem with this fabric wanting to pull down, to put something beside you to raise all of this extra fabric. You can use an ironing board a stool even a little bit of a table, so as you’re stitching this is not going to be pulling against your stitches. You’re going to be able to stitch along and have it all right. When you have the back fabric heavy it also can distort the fabric because of the weight, so as you sew a long you can stop and adjust to make sure that that back is just as straight as the front and that’s going to help keep this seam straight. If you’re accustomed with sewing just with a small quarter-inch seam allowance, when you need to sew something that’s a five-eighths or half-inch your brain automatically is going to want you to go to that quarter inch.
Sometimes that’s where, even if you’re an experienced sewer, it’s good to set something just so that you remind yourself you’re sewing the larger seam and not the smaller seam. And the reverse: If you’re used to sewing a larger seam and you’re going to sew a smaller seam, just having something set right by that edge is just going to help remind yourself that’s the seam you’re doing, because out of a habit you’re going to want to go back to what you’re comfortable with. So for those straight seams it’s the little things that matter.