How To Sew Straight

Well, I've dusted off my sewing machine, despite being terrified of it. I intend to become really good at sewing if it kills me. I have already nearly sewn through my fingers when I forgot I had my foot on the pedal as I was threading the needle, then pressed it. :0

All my life I have been using sewing machines, and all my life I have been f#@!#?g up everything I try to make, plus various sewing machines I have broken along the way.

It started off at school, I actually did sew through my own fingers numerous times, and let me tell you a sewing machine needle is huge! Very ouchy! I used to pin my fabrics together then I would refuse to tack (by hand sewing). Instead I decided I would pull out the pins quickly as the sewing machine went along, thus avoiding the need to tack.
I couldn't understand why no one else used this tactic, until I sewed through my fingers... I still didn't stop, the times when I  wasn't sewing my hand I was breaking the sewing machine needles on the pins! Sometimes it was hard to pull em' out quickly enough you see.

I have a Toyota sewing machine RS2000 series, that my grandmother (bless her) bought me about ten years ago. I have hardly used it in all that time, but now I've dusted it off . I remembered how to set up the machine and thread it, I remembered how to insert the bobbin etc, and I even remembered what all the dials did! I made a solemn promise to myself not to revert back to pulling out pins as I sew, and I began to experiment with the various stitches that the machine has.

My main problem with using a sewing machine (apart from sewing body parts) was that I couldn't sew straight... Even when I really, really, tried! This put me off using the machine, as hemlines that veer up and down are just not chic. I have been practicing for the past few days though, and am finally starting to get it! Yay!

Below are a few techniques that I used to make my sewing straighter...

How To Sew Straight

1. Use the footplate guide - There are a few techniques that you can use to learn how to sew straight. The first is probably the most obvious, but maybe like me, you had not noticed the hem guide in the sewing machine foot plate. These are the engraved lines that have numbers next to them. 

Use the number that corresponds the the hem placement and look at the guide line as you sew, and not at the needle.

If you have no hem guide, look at the hem as you sew, looking at a straight line and following it with your eyes as you go is much better than watching the sewing machine needle. This is a technique I use in drawing too, look at the edge of the paper as you draw a line, it will be straight!

2. Keep the fabric straight and easy to feed under the foot of the machine, this makes a big difference. Take it slow, keep checking the fabric, and if need be keep straightening it so that it runs under the foot nicely. Don't pull the fabric, feed it, if you pull at it the stitches will be out of line, the same if the fabric is feeding too slow.

3. Use fabric with lines to practice on. I have been using some old tea towels just to practice sewing straight. These tea towels have stripes and I am sewing down all of them, feeling how the fabric feeds, feeling how fast to press the pedal, and trying for each stripe to have better stitching. Practice does make perfect, because with practice you will find a way that is comfortable and efficient for you.

The pics below are some examples of my sewing practice, from awful, to err...ok :) But seriously, I am starting to really get a feel for it, and getting much straighter.

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