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Topic: Sewing in a straight line - Using a magnet as a guide?  (Read 4129 times)
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It seems that different people have an idea of what I am, and what I should be. And then there's me.
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« on: May 27, 2009 03:53:37 AM »

I have been collecting fabrics to start making a quilt and would like to start very soon.  I haven't done ANY quilting since middle school (gosh, 10 years ago!).  I didn't start sewing again until recently when my guy got me a new machine, so I am very much still learning.

I remember when I was in middle school and we were making quilts that our teacher gave us all these magnets to put on our machine to use as a guide.  Feed the fabric through, and you get the same size seam and a straight line every time if you run it along the side of the magnet.  I am wondering if this is a trick my teacher used or if they actually sell things like this and other people use them?  I remember the magnets were rectangular and stood up maybe a 1/2 inch.  I've tried to use refridgerator magnets with no luck.

Does anybody use anything like this?  Any suggestions?  Or should I just learn to sew straight  Grin

« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2009 05:49:20 AM »

My sewing machine has an attachment you can screw on that will do the same thing--you adjust it to the desired seam allowance, and it won't let your fabric go past it.  I've never found it useful, just spending a lot of time practicing doing straight lines.  Maybe try drawing out a pattern with a lot of straight lines on some cheap fabric, and practice following those lines?  You want to have your machine going slowly but steadily, and your hands should be guiding the fabric, not jerking or pulling in any direction.  If your problem is remembering where the guide for the seam allowance is (or seeing it), try putting a piece of tape on the edge--it would do the same thing as the magnet without getting in the way.

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« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2009 05:50:31 AM »

They actually sell things like this, though I'm not sure of the official name, they had them at Jo-Anns, and a few quilting stores near me sell them as well. I use them because one of my machines now won't sew in a straight line (the fabric lists to the left).

« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2009 06:47:38 AM »

You didn't mention what kind of machine you have but if your machine has any computerized parts at all you shouldn't use magnatized sewing guides or pin holders! 
You should be able to buy a 1/4 inch seam foot for your machine, it works under the same general idea, you just line your fabric up with the side of the foot and sew!
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2009 12:18:27 PM »

All of my classroom sewing machines have one of those magnetic seam guides linked to above. They are computerized Bernina's and there is no danger to the machine. I've had a magnetic pin cushion on or next to my Bernina machine for at least 15 years - as a matter of fact it is a Bernina pin cushion. Now I wouldn't suggest getting a super powerful magnet and sticking it on the machine but those seam guides and pin cushions are not that powerful.

I do also recommend practicing so you can get better at sewing straight. One thing to keep in mind if you draw lines on paper - you should practice sewing NEXT to the line (maybe keeping the edge of the foot on the line) NOT on the line. Unless you draw the stitching line on all of your pieces of fabric you are not going to be "sewing on the line" when you make things.

If you have trouble keeping your eye on markings on the machine do as suggested and place a piece of tape on the line. A post-it note works well too.

A quarter inch foot is wonderful if you are going to be doing much quilting. The magnetic seam guide probably won't help you without a quarter inch foot because most "standard/basic" feet are wider than 1/4" - you might be able to move the needle to the right to make measuring 1/4" easier.
It seems that different people have an idea of what I am, and what I should be. And then there's me.
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2009 02:35:36 AM »

Oh you guys rock!  I didn't think about using a magnet so close to a computer!  It's a brother machine (not sure of the model offhand) and it's computerized.  Maybe I'll try masking tape instead.  I'm more worried about getting the seams all the same size for the quilt than I am about straight lines - I practiced and practiced on scraps and I think I am ok with that, ok enough to make myself a quilt anyway.  Maybe I will try painters tape since it's bright colored. 

I might have a quarter inch foot already, my machine came with a bunch of different feet but I haven't tried any of them out.  I lost the darn manual already and can't figure out how to change them!  I will have to look online and see.

Thanks guys!

« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2009 09:42:15 AM »

I always use a sticky note to show where the seam should be on something I can't use a foot for, or something I need more precise than my eyes can do on their own. Magnets scare me, even if y'all say it's ok! lol.
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2009 12:17:50 AM »

I once used a brick of Legos hot glued to my machine for a guide.  It popped right off my machine when I was done with it though, so it did not interfere with projects where I didn't want it.
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2009 07:27:02 PM »

A stack of Post-It's makes can be used to make a great (and temporary!) seam guide as well.  Just stick a small stack of them at the right mark on your machine and sew away.  Smiley 
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2009 08:30:34 AM »

I have a magnetic guide made for sewing machines, but I keep forgetting it at my house, and I do most of my sewing at my fiance's house (I have a tiny house, he has a 6-foot dining table). So I borrow a business-card style refrigerator magnet off of his fridge. It's just thick enough to be really useful as I get better with straight seams. It's also been helpful for managing seam allowances with curves.

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