What’s the Project? You’ve got a new sewing machine & now you need to know what to do-even as basic as how to sew a straight line. These sewing classes will teach you.
So you’ve got a sewing machine. Maybe it’s brand new, maybe you’ve been staring at it for a long time….but either way, you’re wanting to learn to use it, but it can be overwhelming. These sewing classes are going to walk you through the whole process. It’s free and it’s from your own home, at your own pace. We will start as basic as how to sew a straight line and then go from there.
This first lesson will teach you how to sew a straight line. Following lessons will cover things like zig-zag stitches, how to sew a zipper, topstitching and more.
Before you get started, make sure you’ve checked out all of the pre-lessons and you’re all set for these sewing classes.
How to Sew a Straight Line:
Get a piece of fabric ready to practice with. Just a scrap of something will do. Preferably just a basic cotton-not anything knit or stretchy. It’s going to be easiest if you fold it so that you are sewing through 2 layers of fabric while you practice.
First, thread your machine (including the bobbin of course). Make sure you have your machine set to sew at an average stitch length (your manual will probably tell you what that is). You can take some time to play around with this-testing shorter stitches and longer stitches.
Now, take your piece of fabric and place it under the presser foot. For starters I want you to line your fabric up so that the right edge of your fabric matches up with the right edge of your presser foot as you look at it like I have done in this picture below. Lower the presser foot so that it is holding your fabric in place.
Before you start to sew, use your hand wheel (or up/down button if you have a computerized machine) to lower the needle so that it is all the way down into your fabric: (always do this when you begin to sew)
Now, slowly press your foot pedal down to begin to sew. Stitch forward for 1 inch:
Then push the reverse button or lever to back stitch for 1 inch (sew backward over what you just sewed):
After you have back stitched over that 1 inch, proceed with a forward stitch again. You have just created a knot so that your stitches won’t come loose. You will do this whenever you sew unless otherwise specified.
Continue to sew forward. As you do, try to keep the edge of the fabric lined up with the edge of your presser foot. This will help you maintain a straight line. (See images above.) Also, try to keep a nice steady pace. You can also put a piece of tape on your fabric to use as a guide to practice getting a straight line.
Once you reach the end of your fabric, knot it again. (Sew to the end, back stitch for about 1 inch, then sew forward again.)
Raise your presser foot and gently remove your fabric. Snip the threads that are attached to your fabric. Guess what? You just sewed your first straight line!
But wait! There’s more to learn.
Sewing Around a Corner:
What if you are sewing a straight line and you come to a corner (like if you are sewing a rectangle or square) that you need to turn to continue sewing. What do you do?
Sew almost all the way to the corner, but leave yourself about 1/4″-1/2″ of space between your needle and the very edge of the fabric. Making sure to lower your needle all the way into the fabric (this is very important), then lift your presser foot. Your fabric will stay in place because the needle is holding it, but you can now pivot it so that it is positioned to keep sewing, now in the new direction. Lower your presser foot and continue to sew. (See in the image how I have sewed down the fabric and I am now turning to sew a new direction. My needle is down in the fabric but my presser foot is lifted so that I can turn my fabric while not losing my place):
A couple more things. Sometimes you will be asked to baste. A baste is a long stitch that is much looser than a typical stitch. When you baste you do not knot at the beginning and the end. This is because you will probably be picking the baste stitch out (if it is just there to hold your fabric in place for the time being) or you will be using it to gather (which we will learn about in a few weeks). Here’s a baste:
How to Sew a Hem:
A hem is when you fold under the fabric twice and sew it in place to create a nice finished edge (like at the bottom of your pants). To hem you will first fold the fabric under about 1/2″ and press (iron) it into place. Then fold it the same amount again, press it again and then do a straight stitch along it:
Here’s a hem being sewed:
And here it is finished:
Here’s an important thing to know when sewing a hem or at other times. If you are sewing a small area, like a pant leg, guess what? You can take off part of your machine to make it easier. See how I can sew that complete loop so easily because the fabric fits all the way around? Give it a try-that part of your machine will come right off and then go back on when you need it back on:
Now, I told you to use the presser foot edge and match it up with your fabric edge to sew a straight line. This is what I do at least 90% of the time when I am sewing, because it creates such an easy guide. But often you will be asked to sew a certain seam allowance. When that happens you need to use your seam guides to guide you instead of the presser foot. In that case, you will line up the edge of your fabric with the seam guide you need and try to keep it steady with that line as you sew:
OK, that’s it. That’s lesson #1-How to Sew a Straight Line. Practice, practice, practice. You will sew millions of straight lines in your sewing life. And you’ll get better as you go. DON’T get frustrated if it’s not perfect. It’s OK!
And, one last thing-don’t forget this guy-your seam ripper. When you make a mistake, the seam ripper will fix it. Trust me, I have been sewing for years and I use my seam ripper all the time. That’s the beauty of sewing. If you make a mistake, you can fix it.
Now we need to practice and sew something new! Here’s how your assignment works:
- Pick a project-I will give you several options here, you are also welcome to choose something of your own, just be careful to make sure that it is in your ability range. Sew it up this week and practice your new skills before you move on to the next lesson.
Hope you feel confident that you know how to sew a straight line now!