I often get a question from my readers – how to sew straight?
In this Sew Straight guide I will show you how to easily keep stitching lines straight. I will talk about topstitching mostly because keeping seam allowances equal is a different topic and I have a separate sewing tutorial on it and on using different types of seam guides – check it out here.
What is a top stitch?
It’s a row of stitches that appear on the right side of an item usually after seams are sewn and can be functional or decorative.
Have you ever had problems with crooked stitching lines? I bet you had. Even intermediate sewists are struggling sometimes to do it and had to rip and redo stitching.
It’s nice to look at the work of a professional seamstress – all the stitching lines are straight, the seams look perfect. And you always have this feeling that it’s so easy to replicate! But as soon as you start sewing you see that it’s harder than you thought before and it’s unlikely that you will sew straight from the beginning.
To me, it’s often enough to look at the topstitching and immediately determine who made the item – an amateur or a pro. I like to wear clothes I made myself but I will never ever wear something if the stitching lines are not straight and done carelessly.
When I learned sewing I used to always worry about making topstitching for my project I worked hard to create. Sometimes I even avoided any topstiting because I was afraid I wouldn’t make it right. I was told that I need more experience and practice and then I can always do it properly. But I wanted to have beautiful stitching lines from the beginning. And I think you are the same – you want to sew straight even if you are just a beginner.
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Modern technology gives us so many different tools we can use to improve our sewing skills.
In fact, sewing in a straight line is much simpler than you think. And in this guide I want to help you to sew straight every time.
First of all, let me show you how to make straight topstitching close to the fabric edges and keep the stitching line parallel to the edge.
Of course, we can use a sewing machine throat plate but for me it works mostly when I am stitching not so close to the edge and mostly for sewing seams not topstitching.
I use special presser feet for straight topstitching with ease.
First foot is called Edge Guide foot (from Janome). My sewing machine is Janome Memory Craft 6600 P, so I tend to use presser feet made by Janome. But this foot works with all low-shank modern machines. I have a Babylock sewing machine and the foot works perfectly also.
It has a screw which you can turn to adjust a white plastic guide and align it with the fabric edge. It also has small red lines – the distance between them is exactly 1 mm so you can sew as close to the edge as 1 mm, and as far from the edge as 10 mm.
This foot is a snap-on foot as practically all modern presser feet are. Remove the other foot from the sewing machine and install this one – it’s really easy. Just clip it on.
Position the needle at the distance you want the stitch to be from the fabric edge, and lower the needle. I want it to be just 1 mm from the edge.
Lower the foot and turn the adjusting screw to carefully align the plastic guide with the fabric edge.
While sewing keep guiding the fabric edge along the guide – this is really easy to do!
- Don’t look at the needle, focus on the white guide bar
- Hold the fabric lightly – dont pull or push
- Don’t sew very fast also
See for yourself now – I easily created the perfect topstitching line 1 mm from the fabric edge. It’s nice and even.
You can topstitch all types of cuffs, collars, belts, hems. The foot can be used with all kinds of fabric – from heavyweight denim to fine lightweight chiffon. In the video clip below you can see how I make straight stitching lines with different fabrics.
Even if I try to stitch badly the foot will not let me – every time the stitching lines are perfectly straight.
If you would like to buy this Edge Guide presser foot check out this link.
And now let’s see how we can topstitch along a seam made when we join 2 pieces of fabric together.
Line up the white guide bar with the seam. Stitch at the close distance – 1 mm for example. And after that you can do the second line very easily.
There are also other presser feet that can be used for the same purpose. They look a little bit different from the foot I have but it seems they work the same. And sometimes they even called differently (like Blind Stitch foot)
Get more info on Presser Feet here
I have anoher presser foot that’s called Blind Stitch foot, but I use it for straight even topstitching also.
The fabric guide is metal in this case but there is also a screw and you can move the metal guide with this screw and align it with the fabric edge. How to use this one? It’s exactly the same as with the previous one.
Install it first. Lower the needle at the starting point. I want it to be 1 mm from the edge. Now align the guide with the fabric edge by turning the screw. Lower the foot and sew keeping the fabric edge along the guide.