Sew Straight: A DIY for Uniform Lines

As a sewer with a limited budget I find I am inventing new ways each week to make my projects easier to produce with what I’ve got lying around. I’ve had the pleasure of working on a sewing machine at my Mother in Law’s that had a really nice guide table to help line everything up and make uniform stitches. I am lacking that feature with my everyday sewing machine and many of my projects require me to cover up the standard sewing machine guide marks.

I know they sell paper with lines printed on it that do basically what I’ve illustrated here, but again, those cost money and I have tons of tracing paper at my disposal, which is pretty much what those lines are printed on. Plus, by doing it myself I have more control over the design, closeness of my stitches, and general layout than if I used store bought guide paper.

Yet again I prove the versatile nature of tracing paper! 

1. Your project (of course!)
2. Pencil
3. Ruler (I prefer those Lucite quilting rulers for easy squaring up)
4. Rotary Blade
5. Tracing Paper
6. Extras (not pictured): Pins

Step One:

If starting from a fresh sheet of tracing paper you will only need to square off two sides. Line up the tracing paper with the bottom of your project (or wherever your sew lines will be ending) and the side where you will begin sewing your lines. Trace off the top section and alternate side. I gave myself a little excess at the top to allow for pins to hold it in place. (See Step 4)

Alt: If you are not working with a shape that has straight edges (square, rectangle, triangle) you can adjust my directions by simply tracing the entire section/shape and cutting it out using scissors instead of a rotary blade. If you are not working from a fresh sheet of tracing paper it is recommended you square off all edges.

Step Two:

Cut your template out with the rotary blade.

Step Three:

Using the quilting ruler begin tracing your lines. You can space them however you need for your project. Make sure you line up everything each time you draw another line. You want to make sure you line up both the tracing and the bottom of the tracing paper for the most accurate lines. (See arrows in first image.)

Step Four:

Lay your traced lines over the section you are working and make sure the bottom of your work area and the bottom of your tracing line up. The same goes for your starting side. (See arrows for reference.) Pin in place.

 Step Five:

Begin sewing. You want to make sure that your line is where the needle falls. I usually line it up by bringing the needle down to make sure I have it in the right place before beginning.

Step Six:

Once you finish sewing all the lines you need tear the pieces off at the seams. It works much like perforated paper. A pin is useful in removing paper that gets stuck.

Finish! This technique really helps me take the guess work out of my designs. Especially without a way to tell if I am sewing straight in relation to my other stitches. While not many projects call for a ton of straight lines together, my crochet hook organizers do and I want to make the best product out there. With each piece I make I learn something new and it only makes me stronger, more adept; with each new problem that arises I find my creative fire burning bright as I seek out ways to make my life easier without denting my wallet. All these supplies I’ve kept for years on end are now getting used in ways I never would have thought of when I first set it aside.

How do you save time and money by utilizing stuff lying around your own work space? What was the last problem you overcame?

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