Sewing straight (5 Tools that can help you)

If you are frustrated by your inability to sew a straight line, you are not alone. Crooked and wavy stitching lines are all too common, though they are seen as shoddy ‘sewmanship’ by experts. 

For seams, it is necessary that you stitch straight lines if you want a garment to hang and fit right on the body. Not to say anything about topstitching, or stitching parallel lines for decoration, etc. Straight stitching denotes quality. So you are in your rights to want  to sew that straight line.

If you have trouble winging this on your own, you can use the marks on your Sewing machine throatplate. With this method you can sew a straight line provided you have cut your edges straight.

sewing straight

You will find these markings on the right side of the presser foot. The markings are for 5/8″, and 1/2″. 5/8 inch is the most commonly used seam allowance. If you align your fabric edges against this mark you will be able to sew with this exact seam allowance.

If you cannot trust these faint lines on your sewing machine, you can use the following tools that will aid you in sewing straight lines.

How to sew Straight on a sewing machine

Magnetic seam stitch guide

sew straight
Magnetic seam stitch guide

This is the best method – you keep this magnetic guide on your sewing machine and it wouldnot even budge because of the magnetic pull. You can keep it anywhere you want – depending on the seam allowance you want. Keep your fabric edge against its edge and you will get consistent straight stitches.

Masking tape

You can keep a masking tape or painter’s tape strip against the exact seam allowance you want. You have to line up the edge of your fabric with this tape as you did earlier.

You can mark the straight line on your fabric, then place the masking tape along the line and then sew close to the edge of the masking tape.

If you want to create parallel straight rows of stitching cut up strips of the masking tape in the width matching the distance between the stitching lines. For eg if you want to sew parallel lines 1/2 inch apart cut up a strip of masking tape in this width. Keep the masking tape on the fabric. Sew along both the edges of the masking tape. When you take off the masking tape, you will get 1/2 inch apart parallel lines.

Double needles

double needle stitch hem
Double needle stitching

This is another way to get straight parallel lines. You can learn more about double needle stitching here.

Stitching /quilting guide

Stitching guide for presser foot

A stitching guide or seam guide or quilting guide is a small rode-like tool which is attached to the back of a presser foot. it is helpful in making parallel rows of stitching. Very helpful when making quilting stitches.

It is attached to the presser foot with a screw on the back. The screw is loosened and the bar is attached through the hole. The guide is adjusted to a distance where it will be over the first line of stitching (which you should make first) or the edge of the fabric. If you keep this in the same position, (over the first line of stitching) you can make a parallel row of stitching with the same distance between them.

Edge stitching foot

How to Sew straight
Edge stitching foot

This is another foot that will help you to maintain an even distance at all times from the cut edge of fabric – you have to keep the edge of the presser foot against the fabric edge. If you want to increase or decrease the distance between the edge you will have to change the needle position. Now when you sew you can maintain an even distance from the cut edge at all times.

Other than these tools, you can make sure that your sewing machine is working at the best settings – test the tension of your machine for the fabric you are sewing.

And ensure that you are not pulling at the fabric as you stitch or the heaviness of the rest of the fabric is not pulling it against the needle. Rest the rest of the fabric on a chair or table (an extended sewing machine table would be perfect) to avoid this pressure.

You should also sit straight right infront of the needle and stitch. This ensures that you have a good view of the stitching and you will be able to stitch straight better.

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.
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