In this lesson of the Learn to Sew series we’re going to learn How to Sew a Straight Line or a Straight Stitch. Plus, there’s a free printable Stitch Length Reference Chart.
We’ll also learn how to start and end your stitches and more!
In case you’re new here, you’ll find a Learn to Sew series here on Hooked on Sewing where we’ve learned:
- Lesson #1: How to select the best sewing machine for you!
- You can read my beginner-friendly sewing machine recommendations here.
- Lesson #2: The essential tools you’ll want to have on hand as you begin your sewing journey.
- Lesson #3: Which fabrics and threads are best to use for learning how to sew.
- Lesson #4: All about the important parts of your sewing machine or what I like to call your Sewing Machine Anatomy.
- Lesson #5: There is a right way to wind your bobbin. And a couples of tips that will help prevent “nesting.”
- Lesson #6: Threading your sewing machine the right way will help to prevent needle breakage – believe it or not!
Be sure to read the other lessons so you’ll be all caught up and ready to jump into lesson #7 – How to Sew a Straight Line.
And when you’re ready, you can try what you’ve learned by sewing a pillowcase!
How to Sew a Straight Line
Although every sewing machine is a little different, they all have some things in common. And one of those things is sewing a straight stitch. No matter if you have a mechanical, computerized, sewing/embroidery or even a heavy-duty sewing machine. They all sew a straight stitch and it’s the very first stitch you’ll need to learn.
There are a few things about sewing a straight line that we’re gonna cover today:
- How to start a stitch.
- How to end a stitch.
- How to set your stitch length.
- How to sew a straight line.
Sew, you see, there’s more to sewing a straight line than just turning on your machine and sewing. It really is important for you to understand these techniques. Because the more you understand, the better sewist you’ll become.
One technique builds on another.
There are just a few supplies you’ll need to practice sewing a straight line. Of course, you’ll need your sewing machine, but you’ll also need:
- cotton fabric
- all-purpose thread
- bobbin filled with all-purpose thread
- all-purpose sewing needle
How to Start a Stitch
I’m going to assume you have powered on your sewing machine, threaded your machine, have a filled bobbin in your machine and have a sewing needle in your machine.
If you have a computerized sewing machine, when you turn your sewing machine on, it typically will reset to the factory default stitch settings. We’ll use these default settings to practice our stitches.
If you have a mechanical machine, you’ll want to set your stitch length to around 2.5mm.
Learn how to sew a straight line, as well as how to set your stitch length, and how to reinforce your beginning and ending stitches.
- cotton fabric
- all-purpose thread
- sewing machine
- all-purpose sewing machine needle
Place Fabric Under Presser Foot
- Take your cotton fabric and slide it under the presser foot so that the edge of the fabric lines up with the back of the presser foot.
- To sew a straight line, line up the right edge of the fabric with the stitch marking on the needle plate. For example, if you were to sew a 5/8" seam, you would line the edge of the fabric up with the 5/8" mark on the needle plate.
- Lower the presser foot.
Lower the Needle
- Lower your needle. You'll either turn the handwheel towards you to lower the needle or press a button on your machine to lower the needle. Always turn your handwheel towards you.
- You will always want to start sewing with the needle in the down position.
Check Stitch Length
If you're using cotton fabric for this tutorial, you'll want to make sure your stitch length is set somewhere between 2.0 and 2.5. You can use a longer stitch length if you want.
Sew a Reinforcement Stitch
- With your needle down, you'll slowly take 3-5 stitches forward, stop with your needle in the down position, and sew 3-5 stitches in reverse.
- Then continue sewing forward until you near the edge of the fabric. Be sure to keep the edge of your fabric lined up with the 5/8" mark, if that's what you're doing. Watch the edge of the fabric and the needle plate - not the needle.
- With the needle in the down position, sew 3-5 stitches in reverse, then 3-5 stitches forward.
- Raise the needle to the up position. Raise the presser foot. Pull the fabric out from under the presser foot and trim the threads close to the fabric.
Stitch Length Chart
You will use a different stitch length depending on what type of fabric you are using, the thickness of the thread you’re using, and the type of stitch.
For example, if you’re basting, you’ll use a long stitch length and if you’re quilting, you’ll use a shorter stitch length.
|FABRIC TYPE||STITCH LENGTH|
|Lightweight Fabric||1.5 – 2.0|
|Medium Weight Fabric||2.0 – 2.5|
|Heavy Fabric||3.0 – 4.0|
|Leather and Vinyl||3.0 – 4.0|
|STITCH TYPE||STITCH LENGTH|
|Basting||4.0 – 7.0|
|Top Stitch||2.5 – 3.5|
|Gathering||4.0 – 5.0|
|Quilting||2.5 – 3.5|
|Stay Stitching||2.5 – 3.5|
|THREAD THICKNESS||STITCH LENGTH|
|Thin thread||2.5 – 3.5|
|Thick thread||3.0 – 4.0|
|Metallic thread||3.0 – 4.0|
|Rayon thread||3.0 – 4.0|
Download Stitch Length Chart
To receive a printable version of the Stitch Length Chart, simply sign up for the Hooked on Sewing newsletter below:
I recently read an article from Fons & Porter about stitch length. It goes a little more in depth in describing stitch length and even shares some formulas. Read more about Understanding Stitch Length on the Quilting Daily blog.
And be sure to check out the entire Learn to Sew series right here on Hooked on Sewing!
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