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Learning To Sew: Sewing A Straight Line On Fabric

 This article is brought to you by Lizzsews.

Are you interested in learning how to sew? This article is the fifth 'unit' in the learning to sew article series. Follow along, let's learn how to use your sewing machine together!

Recommended read: Learning to sew article series

Sewing in general can be difficult to learn, there is just so much to know and learn. One of the most basic parts of sewing that all sewers must know, is how to sew a straight line on fabric.

In this article, I will guide you through step by step how to sew a straight line on fabric!

   1. The type of fabric you use matters.

As mentioned in the previous 'unit', the type of fabric that you are using is important. Each fabric type has different needs, some are quite similar where others are very different. Different fabrics might require different-sized needles, different presser feet, different threads, etc.

For the sake of this article, I will guide you through sewing on quilting cotton.

   2. Gather your materials.

- Quilting cotton

- 70/10, 80/12, or 90/14 universal needle

- Presser foot "J"

- Polyester or cotton thread

- Prepped machine

   3. Place two pieces of cotton fabric on top of each other

When you're sewing an actual project, like in your 'final exam', you will be sewing two layers of fabric onto each other. This is why it's a good idea to practice with two pieces of fabric.

When you're done sewing a line along the two pieces of fabric, you also get the opportunity to see what your seam looks like.

   4. Place the cotton fabric underneath the presser foot.

It's time to start sewing our straight line! Take the two layers of cotton fabric and place them underneath the presser foot and lower the presser foot lever.

   5. Actually lining it up.

You might be wondering how to actually get your sewing to be in a straight line, to do this use the lines on the needle plate cover. To do this, have the edge of the fabric line up with the line and as you sew lightly guide the fabric so that it continues to stay aligned with the line.

On these lines, there might also be fractions for how many inches the seam will be. For example, 1/4 means one-quarter inch and is a very common seam allowance. 

A seam allowance is the amount of area, commonly measured in inches, between the fabric edge and the stitching line on two pieces of material/fabric that are being sewn together.

Another method of lining up the fabric to sew is to have the edge of the fabric stay in line with the edge of the presser foot. This method is my favourite and the way that I line up my fabric most of the time.

   6. Reverse/reinforcement stitches.

Make sure that you start sewing and end sewing this straight line with a reverse stitch. You can do this by pressing the reverse/reinforcement stitch button or if your machine doesn't have this button it will have something similar to a lever.

   7. Tension. 

I recommend not changing the tension, if you're having problems something else is most likely causing it.

Recommended read: Understand tension

   8. Thread tails.

Thread tails are the upper thread and the bobbin thread "tails" that have been placed under the presser foot and to the back of the machine. You want these tails to be long enough so that when you sew they don't get bunched up. 

I recommend lightly holding the upper thread tail as you start the first few stitches so that it doesn't get pulled under the fabric.

  9. Time to put it to the test!

Now it's time to actually sew! Use presser foot "J", straight stitch(left) and the information from above and let's get sewing! Line up the fabric like described above, lower the presser foot lever and using the handwheel lower the needle into the fabric. 

Start sewing by pressing the start/stop button or by pressing down on the foot pedal. 

As you sew, continue to lightly guide the fabric, without pulling it, to keep it in line with the lines on the needle plate cover or with the presser foot.

To end it off, backstitch, lift the needle, and cut the threads or use the auto thread cutter if you have one. 

Look at how you did! If you were able to sew a straight line, congratulate yourself!!

Optional: Press your seam open by ironing to get some practice, when sewing actual projects, you will almost always need to press out your seams. Press out your seams means to iron your seam open.

  10. Keep practicing! 

 - Practice makes perfect 

 - Nothing ever comes easy

As you're sewing, I want you to remember these sayings. When you make a mistake and something goes wrong, it's okay!


Continue to practice sewing straight lines on fabric until you've mastered it. And once you're ready, head on over to 'unit 6' where you will learn how to sew on fabric with pivots and curves. This will be the last unit before your 'final exam'!

Recommended: Learn sewing

Recommended: Sewing projects

Leave a comment below and let me know if you made a straight line on the paper! And don't forget to subscribe to stay up to date with all of Lizzsews new articles. See you next time!


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