Practicing can be tedious but knowing that you can sew a straight line will give you confidence to start your first project.
Find some decent stripy scraps of cotton fabric to practice. You can even practice pressing whilst you’re at it. Pressing will become important later on so it is good to know how well your iron works.
- Cut out your fabric strip 8” wide and 18” long
- Fold in half and press
- Thread your machine (consult your instruction booklet)
- Use a needle for mid-weight woven fabric
- Choose a medium stitch length, 2 ½ or 3 (consult your instructions, some sewing machines will have a switch for this)
- Set the machine for strait stitch
- Always begin with the needle in the highest position, i.e. draw up the presser foot and make sure you always do this (many breakages are caused by forgetting this!)
- Draw out your top and bobbin threads by about 6 inches from the feed dog and hold on to them (keep them out of the way)
- Place your fabric under the needle close to the crease
- Bring the presser foot down ready, this creates the friction for the feed dog and moves the fabric along as you sew
- You can hand guide the needle for the first stitch at first (later you will be able to do by eye)
- Use your fingers to guide the fabric along under the presser foot, press gently on the foot pedal
- Practice, practice, practice sewing straight seams using different fabrics, different types of thread (you will soon find that pure polyester and polycotton is the easiest to use) keeping to straight stitch for now
- Stop the needle when it is in the uppermost position, draw up the presser foot using the hand wheel if necessary
- Gently pull out your fabric
- Cut your threads always leaving 6” on top and bobbin threads for next time
Well that’s it for now apart from checking your work. You can start the troubleshooting now.
It is better to go slow on the pedal at a constant rather than fast and slow. For practice you will be better to maintain slow pedaling. You will naturally get faster as you practice.
What happens if your speed varies? You will get uneven stitches, and that is not neat.
If you maintain a constant speed and your stitches still look uneven then you may be pulling at the layers of fabric as you stitch. Your fingers are only gently guiding the fabric, let the feed dog take the fabric along for you, let it go!
Now you know why you are using stripy cotton, you can see how straight your seam is with stripes!
Never mind if it is a little wonky at first. You will soon be able to sew a straight line and the sooner you can do that the sooner you can move onto more complicated shapes.
This is another reason to keep your first project simple. Something square perhaps! Just for now.
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