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Topic: Crooked stitches! Help on sewing straight  (Read 1561 times)
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hel
« on: July 10, 2008 09:49:05 AM »

I've been looking through the threads around here for a while now and finally, just two days ago, I've bought a sewing machine! It's a Mezzo, never actually heard of the brand, but I got it off a 2nd hand shop real cheap. Never have I laid my hands on a sewing machine before so I was a real thrill that I got it threaded faster than I thought it would actually take :-)

So now I've been experimenting on the different stitches, settings and what-have-you's on this little wonder. But then it frustrates me that I can't sew straight! Especially on plain stitches, the ------ ones, they turn out crooked or they'd edge towards the left (or right) How do you guys do it? I can't sew along the edges of a folded fabric because I end up sewing beyond the folds, and then I'll try to bring the stitches back in.. it's a mess Sad

I practice on cotton scraps which I guess is the "in between" of all fabrics, not too tough nor flimsy. Though I'm actually able to make little draw-string pouches, I'd say it's really not crazy bad sewing. I can run a straight stitch for a length and then I lose it. I try so be safe and move a bit farther from edges so I don't go over the folds, but then it still isn't passable if I want to start doing reconstruction and stuff.

I'll be really grateful for any tips and other thoughts. Thank you thank you!
« Last Edit: July 11, 2008 08:21:39 AM by hel » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2008 03:03:31 PM »

Sewing is a skill.  Like all skills, you have to practice, practice, practice.  You can measure the 5/8 inch between where the needle enters the fabric and the edge of the fabric and place a piece of masking or painter's tape along the edge:

  ||
  || needle
_ V______X___                        the tape edge goes where the x is.
              X  (5/8)


Make the tape long enough so that you can keep the fabric straight against it and you notice when you are going crooked.

Just like every car drives a little different, so does every sewing machine.   Sometimes it takes a little extra effort to keep the fabric feeding straight.  They can move to the right or left, depending on how the feed dogs are moving.  No big deal.  You will learn to compensate.

Practice and eventually it will all be second nature.  You'll be able to eyeball everything.  When I first learned to sew I would go through hundreds of pins.  Now I rarely pin anything. 


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catjonfitz
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2008 04:41:23 PM »

Hi,
Glad to see you are trying to learn. As the previous poster said the key is practice.
I recently bought my niece a learning to sew book and one of the lessons they suggested was to unthread your machine, get a piece of plain paper and rule straight lines over it, then sew over the paper, carefully following the lines. The needle will punch though the paper so you can see where you have been and you don't waste fabric or thread while you are learning to control you machine.
Start sewing slowly, and gradually pick up speed.
Once you are comfortable with this try drawing curves on the paper and follow them. Try to get a feel for how much you need to guide the paper under the pressed foot, see if it tends to pull to one side or the other. Try to guide the paper or fabric rather than push or pull it.
Also don't forget to leave a good sized seam allowance while you are learning, it gives you room to make mistakes and redo.

Most importantly HAVE FUN Grin
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« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2008 09:58:15 PM »

I recently bought my niece a learning to sew book and one of the lessons they suggested was to unthread your machine, get a piece of plain paper and rule straight lines over it, then sew over the paper, carefully following the lines. The needle will punch though the paper so you can see where you have been and you don't waste fabric or thread while you are learning to control you machine.

Oh, oh oh you've reminded me...

One of the earliest toys I had as a kid was a little sewing machine (I swear, I was, like, 3 or 4 when I was given it) All moving parts, you would wind yarn onto the non-removable spool, thread it through the machine and into the big chunky plastic needle, and then stitch designs onto paper..... I loved it...
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paroper
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2008 06:37:59 AM »

A farmer will tell you that when you plow a field, look at something on the other side and walk toward it.  As you walk, your row will remain straight.  It is the same idea with sewing.  As you sew, watch the guide, not the foot.  Most machines have the 5/8 and other "eight" marks to the right, sometimes the left of the needle.  Watch the mark you are using and line the edge of your fabric there.  The sewing will take care of itself. In time you'll recognize the rare times you might have a problem by the sound of your machine. 

There are different elevated guides which can be purchased to use as "helps".  In the long run you'll find that if you can skip that step and learn to use the guides on your machine you'll be miles ahead of the game. 

Also, many people tend to push or pull fabric through the presser foot.  The feed dog (that portion under the presser foot that sort of churns as you sew), does this for you.  If you'll learn to relax and let the machine sew the garment you'll have a better quality seam and you'll find sewing to be relaxing (not work).  Learn to do this early.  The habits you form as you learn to sew will be hard to break later.
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elijor
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2008 06:53:27 AM »

suggested was to unthread your machine, get a piece of plain paper and rule straight lines over it, then sew over the paper, carefully following the lines.

Once you are comfortable with this try drawing curves on the paper and follow them.
This is a great idea that I do with my high school students. I make one change - sort of goes with what paroper said - instead of sewing "on the line" they have to keep the edge of the paper on the designated "seam allowance" marking on the machine bed (1/2" or 5/8"). To do curves using this method you have to cut the paper rather than drawing the line but that's no big deal. I added this change after my first year teaching because the kids did great "sewing on the line" but then when it came time to make a garment they were focused on the needle rather than the proper seam allowance.
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SpottedFrog
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2008 07:19:38 AM »

Yup, yup, yup!

I too had a 'toy' sewing machine, mine sewed a real chain stitch on fabric even, I made doll clothes on it. They are selling similar ones now but they are all plastic :/

My mom & I did the sewing on paper routine. Before my first quilt with 1/4" seams I did it as warm up, got me over the nervousness of doing tiny seams Smiley

The thing I tell my students is this: In baseball you keep your eye on the ball because that's the part that's going somewhere. With sewing the fabric is going somewhere so that's the part you watch.
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« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2008 07:33:01 AM »

These are all great suggestions.  Sewing is a skill that one must practice (like learning the piano, etc.).  Remember a sewing machine only knows how to sew straight, and you are the driver!  Relax, have fun and try all the hints here and you will get it.  And, thread-less paper punching with your sewing machine is actually quite fun! 
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hel
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2008 08:12:21 AM »

Wow thanks everyone for all your tips :-) I've read about sewing through a line on paper and I've been working on that. Just like being back in preschool, but I'm not complaining, haha actually having fun! And you guys are right, I tend to push the fabric like feeding it to the machine when I'm just supposed to let it sew through and watch the guides. I'm trying to get the rhythm of working it until it becomes fluid like a second nature, same as the rest of you who've been doing this for years. It just gets me giddy knowing that I have the tools and materials to start creating already, that for the longest time I've been wanting to do!

Keep the suggestions coming, I'm sure there'll be more like me who'll be looking this problem up! Aren't we all lucky to have craftster?

Much love,
Helena
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SpottedFrog
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2008 12:15:54 PM »

My mom restricted me to two fingers when practicing guiding, one on each side. It's really hard to push a piece of paper through a machine with only two fingers!
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