Learning to sew? Yay for you! Having the knowledge to sew is very beneficial in so many ways. Once you decide you want to learn, you are on the way to great things! Make handmade items for your friends and family, make awesome and unique things for yourself, alter store bought items to fit perfectly or to cater to your personal style, repair damage to your favorite clothes and save them from certain death! The list goes on and on....

When I was first learning to sew, one of the most difficult tasks was sewing in a simple, straight line. This is a very important skill in basic sewing and it will get easier, I promise! But, like all things, it takes practice.

One super helpful tip that my mother taught me was to put a piece of double-sided foam tape, or blue painter's tape parallel to the stitch direction to make it easier to guide the fabric under the presser foot in a straight line- continuously. It is much easier than trying to keep the distance between the edge of the presser foot and the edge of the fabric consistent and way easier than depending on the seam allowance marks on the machine when you are a beginner. Once you become better at feeding your fabric consistently, the marks on the machine are very helpful and much easier to utilize, but using the tape is a good stepping stone.

Step 1: Measure the seam allowance from your needle with a sewing gauge and place a piece of tape 3-5 inches long right onto the base of your sewing machine. (Make sure you put the tape straight!) In the pictures below, I have demonstrated how to mark a 5/8" seam allowance, using double-sided foam tape.

Step 2: As you stitch, keep the edge of the fabric right up against the tape. (Maintain your focus on lining up the edge of the fabric and the tape, rather than looking at where the needle is. This will ensure a beautiful, straight stitch.)

Foam Tape vs. Blue Painter's Tape:

  • The foam tape is better at guiding your fabric than the painters tape because it is raised and keeps the fabric from squirreling around. However, the foam tape is a little more difficult to remove after it's been sitting for over a day. If you are using the foam tape, I suggest removing it when you are done sewing and replace the backing so you can reuse it the next time you sit down to sew.
  • The blue painter's tape has an advantage because it is much more visible against the machine base, which can be easier to guide the fabric along, depending on who you are. Also, it is made to be removable, so you can leave it on your machine base as long as you want and it will still come off easily.