Straight stitching is the core of sewing! It is by far the most used type of stitching and as a beginner, the most important to learn and perfect. You are going to spend more time straight stitching than anything else when making your sewing projects so understanding how to straight stitch well is going to make a big difference in your final results.
Before you even begin to try stitching, just get a feel for controlling the speed of your machine. This is definitely not the time to put the pedal to the metal. If your machine doesn’t have speed controls and you’re having difficulty, try using the foot pedal without a shoe on.
Of course, not all machines are used with a foot pedal. Some have speed settings and start/stop buttons that allow you to control your sewing without a pedal. However, the foot pedal is most common, especially for beginners. Practice until you can control the machine at an even, steady speed.
When ready, get your machine set up for a basic stitch. Make sure it is set for straight stitch. Set the stitch length to 2.5 and your tension to something fairly low, around a 4. Thread your machine following the instructions in the manual.
Lift the presser foot and place a piece of fabric underneath. Line up the edge using the markings on the throat plate to get the desired seam allowance. For this practice piece, let’s use the edge of the presser foot as the seam guide.
Once lined up properly, lower the presser foot. Double check that everything is straight and start sewing. The bulk of your fabric will be to the left with the seam guide to the right. Remember to keep your pedal pressure even and smooth.
The key is to use your hands to gently guide the fabric. Don’t push the fabric through and don’t reach behind and pull it through either. This can stretch out the fabric and cause undue stress on your machine.
If it’s not going through smoothly, stop and remove the fabric from the machine. Check your tension setting and stitch size. Is your machine threaded properly? Open the bobbin compartment and make sure that there are no tangled or caught threads.
Once you’ve given things a quick once-over, start again from the beginning. If you encounter any problems, it’s okay to stop. Get your pedal speed under control again, realign your fabric, take a deep breath and start again.
It can be very tempting to watch the needle moving up and down as you sew. Unfortunately, this is not the best way to ensure a straight line of stitching. You need to keep an eye on the seam guide instead. Keep your fabric lined up with the correct seam line – in this case we’re using the edge of the presser foot – and you’ll get perfectly straight stitching that is parallel to the edge of your fabric.
Mastering the straight stitch is not difficult but it can take a bit of practice. Give it a try on some scrap fabric before embarking on your first sewing project. Happy sewing!