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Forum > Beginner's Forum > Do you have any tips for sewing in a straight line / topstitching neatly? ( Moderated by EleanorSews)

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Do you have any tips for sewing in a straight line / topstitching neatly?
cutestcutie

cutestcutie
Beginner
USA
Member since 5/3/08
Posts: 122
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Date: 5/5/08 12:10 PM

I'm having difficulty sewing in a straight line, which becomes a particular problem when I have to topstitch. When sewing I try to focus my eyes on the edge of the fabric and some fixed point close to it so that I can try to maintain an even distance between the two, but I find it particularly difficult when I'm trying to sew a line that is not close to the edge of the fabric, when I can't use any reference point to guide me. Sorry if I haven't been clear about my problem, but basically I'd like to know if you have any tips or methods for sewing in a straight line. Thank you!

EveS
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EveS
Intermediate
Michigan USA
Member since 11/26/06
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In reply to cutestcutie


Date: 5/5/08 12:25 PM

Sewing in a straight line is much like driving in a straight line. If you narrow your focus to only the lines of the lane, you'll have a hard time keeping the vehicle straight. But if you relax your focus just a little and look more at the "big" picture of where you're going, it takes little effort at all to keep within your lane, even on a curvy road.

I think more than anything it just takes practice and getting comfortable with your machine.

HTH a little...
Eve

------
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it - Chinese proverb

cutestcutie

cutestcutie
Beginner
USA
Member since 5/3/08
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Date: 5/5/08 12:31 PM

EveS, thank you. That definitely does help :). I like your analogy to driving and will definitely test out your advice.

Vintage Joan
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Vintage Joan
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Ontario Canada
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In reply to cutestcutie


Date: 5/5/08 12:38 PM

Also it helps to mark or put a piece of tape at 5/8" (or whatever your seam width is) on the metal plate that the needle feeds through, and check that the edge of your fabric is lined up with that mark as you sew. I find that if I focus on feeding the fabric edge alongside that mark, my seams are straight.

-- Edited on 5/5/08 12:39 PM --

------
my shield and my very great reward ~ Gen. 15:1

Patti B
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Patti B  Friend of PR
Intermediate
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In reply to cutestcutie


Date: 5/5/08 12:56 PM

An edge-stitching foot will help immeasurably! Or you can try the blind-hem foot that probably came with your machine. Both feet will have a blade against which you can align your fabric like this one --



You can try using a zipper foot too -- just practice and see what you like.

------
Patti

R-r-r-ripping my way to fitting success

ConnieBJ
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ConnieBJ  Friend of PR
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Date: 5/5/08 1:17 PM

You could also try this tip (Tip by Everyday Sewist, photos are mine)

post it note as a seam guide




I find it very helpful, especially when I have to do multiple rows of even stitching like for this strap.

For narrow topstitching- 1/8 to 1/4 inch, I would use some of the previously mentioned (and great) suggestions.
Hope that helps.

darn it- the images worked, then they didn't, then they did. now they don't!
-- Edited on 5/5/08 1:22 PM --
-- Edited on 5/5/08 3:42 PM --

------
Connie Bontje

http://www.couturesmith.com
Twitter: Couturesmith
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Desperately trying to keep ahead of my pattern, fabric and dressform collection!

Sew Confused
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Sew Confused
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Date: 5/5/08 2:05 PM

Other than the foot, which is a godsend, I would say go as slowly as you need to to make a good job of it. Sometimes I just creep along and then I get frustrated with how long it's taking...I remind myself that it's still a lot faster than stitching by hand.

------
Paula

"In Seattle you haven't had enough coffee until you can thread a sewing machine while it's running."
- Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder

Visit my blog at www.sewconfused.blogspot.com

jhansby
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jhansby  Friend of PR
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California USA
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Date: 5/5/08 10:32 PM

My old singer used to actually have a top-stitching guide that was adjustable, and screwed into the bed of my machine. Why don't newer machines come with this simple little thing?!! The post-it note option is a great one, though. I have various marks of 1/4 masking tape on my machine bed but having a higher edge like the post-it is very helpful.

dr. liz
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dr. liz
Advanced Beginner
New Jersey USA
Member since 11/15/07
Posts: 274
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Date: 5/5/08 11:33 PM

I also use my 1/4" foot from quilting to help me out, especially when in the middle of a garment (like with a centered zipper.) I run the blade along the seamline.

Another suggestion I recently came across was to use an index card to provide a straight edge as you sew. This suggestion was for topstitching a straight line when inserting a lapped zipper. That can be tricky because you cannot see the throat plate to sight along. My local teacher had another suggestion for that problem: touch. When topstitching the 2nd side of the zipper, feel for the edge of the zipper teeth. This gives you a guide to follow.

I think there are a variety of tricks depending on the exact circumstance.

tlmck3
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tlmck3
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Illinois USA
Member since 7/11/05
Posts: 3782
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Date: 5/6/08 0:00 AM

I have old machines that all use a standard seam guide that can be screwed down to the machine bed --the guide itself is adjustable by s and I use them religiously.
Mine look a lot like the one in the 2nd picture in this ebay attachment guide:

Attachment Guide

I believe there are also magnetic ones that you can attach to your machine bed.

And, there are other, more modern screw-down versions, like this one:
Attachment Guide

ETA:
Also: If you are topstitching, use a new, sharp, topstitching needle.
Schmetz Topstitch Needles
-- Edited on 5/6/08 0:13 AM --

------
I am going for a level of perfection that is only mine... Most of the pleasure is in getting that last little piece perfect...Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just keep showing up and doing the work.

Chuck Close, painter, printmaker, photographer

Hope has two lovely daughters: Anger and Courage

St. Augustine

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