By Barbara Evans
Do you sometimes have trouble sewing a straight line?
Some sewers merrily stitch a perfectly straight line while blithely singing to the radio, while others of us work so hard at it with great concentration and get so frustrated when the results end up looking like the wanderings of an inebriated spider. We end up breaking needles, tangling the bobbin thread and then feel like giving up sewing altogether.
Well, there is no need for all that, as I will show you a very easy way to learn how to stitch a straight line.
* Sit comfortably at your sewing machine, remove the thread and the bobbin and take your foot away from the pedal.
* Take a piece of firm pad paper and place the bulk of the paper to the left of the machine needle.
* Using the hand wheel turn by hand, until the needle is nearly into the paper
* Measure 1.5cm or 5/8in from the point of the needle to the right hand edge of the paper. This is your seam allowance and is usually the standard on most patterns using woven fabric.
* Now stitch, keeping your eye on the distance between the side of the presser foot and the edge of the paper and keeping the same distance as you stitch along. This will produce a perfect straight seam with the exact width of the seam allowance.
* Never look at the needle going up and down, you will feel dizzy or may even feel sick.
* If you do not have a seam or measurement guides on the bed of your sewing machine, place a piece of tape next to the straight edge of paper. You will have a permanent guide to run the edge of the fabric along.
Now try the same with some fabric.
* Cut two pieces of sample fabric about 20cm (8in) x 30cm (12in) and pin edges together.
* Using Tailors Chalk, draw two horizontal lines about 6 cm (2 1/2in) down from the top and up from the bottom of the sample.
* Practise stitching between the lines, keeping the stitch lines 1.5cm or 5/8in apart. Remember to reverse and trim loose threads at the beginning and ends of each seam.
* On other sample pieces of fabric, draw large "S" and "W" shapes and practise stitching around the shapes a few times, keeping the seam allowance the same width as you stitch. You may have to pivot at the corners.
* To pivot, lower the needle into the fabric, lift the presser foot and turn the fabric around, thus turning the corner.
* Lower the presser foot and continue sewing. You will use this method of pivoting a lot in your sewing endeavours.
If you practise these simple exercises you will soon be able to sew straight, accurate rows. Keep your samples in a safe place, so in a few months time you can look back and see how much your sewing has improved. This feedback, the reflection of what you can achieve, provides great motivation for practising in and improving your other sewing skills.