Jul 24, 2009

How to sew a straight line

I can't get enough of sewing. When I'm not teaching or sewing myself I'm reading other people's sewing blogs to see what they're sewing. One blog I love to read is Carolyn at diaryofasewingfantic.

I started reading Carolyn's blog last summer. When I signed up to follow her blog I think I was number 78 as a follower. Today she has over 200 reading and commenting on her blog. Carolyn's starting a new series to help beginners at sewing not to give up when things get hard or something doesn't come out the way you thought it would. In the comment section of her last post Sewingmama said she wanted to give up sewing because she can't cut a straight line. Other people said they couldn't sew a straight line.

I notice in my classes this is a problem for a lot of people. When someone can't sew a straight line they feel like giving up right away. There's a few thing you can do to help you sew a straight line.

The first trick to sewing is sewing the right sides of the fabric together (as apposed to the wrong sides) when making your seams. The next trick to sewing is making sure the edges of the fabric together and lined up when you sew the seam. You have to take your time pinning the edges of the fabric before you sew.

Here's the trick to sewing a straight line. Find something on the machine to follow. Most of the time it's the 5/8" line on the inside of the needle on the machine. If you have a hard time following it you can buy a little thing that sticks to your machine and has a lift on it - you put it at the 5/8" line - follow the fabric at the edge of the lift and you're sewing a straight line. Say you don't want to buy the little thing for your machine. I put a little piece of tape on the 5/8" line for my students to follow.

Ok now, lets say you want to do a top stitch. (a top stitch is a stitch you see on the right side of the fabric. imagine the stitch line that's at the edge of a collar. A top stitch adds detail and looks better when you do it closer to the edge of the fabric). Sometimes I put the zipper foot on the machine so I can follow the edge of the zipper foot with the edge of the fabric to get a straight line close to the edge of the fabric. I find anything I can to follow the edge of the fabric on the machine to sew straight lines.

Another thing that causes people not to do straight lines is "they drive the car crazy" as I call it. Sewing is a lot like driving a car. How ever fast you go determines on how hard you push the foot peddle. And when you're driving a car you don't turn the stearing wheel back and forth. You guide the car to stay in your lane. Think about it like driving a car and stay in your lane driving straight. Another thing that could help you "drive the straight line" is don't go so fast, slow down. The slower you go the more control you have.

Many people have a hard time sewing straight lines when starting out their adventures in sewing. Believe me you will get better. You just have to try new things. If you keep doing the same things you will get the same results. If you're having trouble sewing a straight line try sewing down lined paper to practice. We get better with time. It depends on how much time you have to give to the art of sewing.

Parting video: My daughter started sewing when she was 6 yrs old. She's now 9. When we were sewing together yesterday I made a video of her sewing her bag. She is showing how to sew a straight line following the tape.

Until next time
Enjoy your moments ~ make them "sew" much fun,


  1. great instructions. i let my 10 yr old gd sew on lined paper until she got the hang of it. she's made a pillow case and was so pleased. when we were first sewing i said to her "press down like you are driving" she stopped looked up at me and said "MeeMee, I don't drive" OMG we laughed for 10 mins on that one! I just picked up a skirt and pj bottom pattern for her and my niece. I'm planning a sewing sleep over with them next montg. I'm so excited.
    To all you beginners out there practice makes perfect! Don't give up!

  2. My home ec. teacher had us practice sewing straight lines on lined notebook paper.

  3. I had a sewing teacher who hated me and only let me sew paper. It really killed the craft for me until 18 years later....now I am learning at home and Im hooked! Great site BTW.I know Ill be spending lots of time here....

  4. Thanks this helped! I have no idea how to sew but I had to make this blanket quilt thing. I'm almost done; I just sewed the back and front together inside out then turned it right side out and the only stitch I have left is sewing one side but idk how! Because the seams gonna show and i'm not a good sewer and i dont know where to sew it?? Any guidence anyone?

  5. I am learning how to sew- just bought a sewing machine and lots of supplies! =) I find myself pulling my fabric through the sewing machine. Every blog/video I watch says that the machine should move the fabric but if I don't pull on the fabric, it just sits there and a big knot of thread builds in that one spot. Any tips?! Is the little foot that holds down the the fabric too tight? If so, how do you loosen it? Is my fabric too stretchy or light that it doesn't want to move?

  6. Lined paper is an amazing idea. Thanks!

  7. Sewing a straight line for me really depends on the Machine. Home based sewing machines for the most are relatively easy for sewing straight lines. When it comes to Industrial based machines I tend to find this a little harder. Most of the equipment I'm around is about 30 or more years old and doesn't have a controlled touch. The foot pedals are a lot trickier for controlling the speed.