Sew Straight

I am not sure what to title this.. Sew Straight or how to sew straight lines or what if I need a 3 inch hem? for now.. sew straight is it.

Most sewing machines (and sergers) have markers for sewing a 5/8″ seam allowance on the needle plate. Usually there are several lines with numbers etched into the needle plate.

What is a needle plate? it is the metal plate the needle goes down into.

Here is my Singer 401 needle plate with numbers and a grooved line representing 5/8″.
Needle Plate
You can see numbers 3,4,5,6 which represent the distance between the needle and the edge of the fabric.

When I need a 5/8 inch seam allowance which is called for in a pattern (5/8″ is the industry standard in sewing patterns unless otherwise stated). I lay the edge of the fabric on the 5/8″ line and sew.

But what happens when I need 1″ or 2-1/4″? often times a childs hem will be 3″ when sewing vintage patterns. I have marked my machine!
finished NP markers

You can see I have taken out to 4-1/4 inches.

This is how I mark my sewing machine Needle Plate and on to the bed of the machine. I mark to the edge of the bed of the machine.

I need to gather a tape measure, a seam gauge or ruler, scotch tape, a pencil or pen, an exacto knife or straight edge razor.

Place scotch tape – I prefer the magic tape (green label) because it can easily be removed – on the bed of the machine. Don’t worry about covering the slide plate or bobbin cover.

I have used an exacto knife and “CAREFULLY” sliced the tape where the needle plate slides, where the needle plate comes off, opening up the holes for oiling and screwing in the fabric guide.

Place the tape measure under your pressure foot and bring the needle down right on the 1″ line. I bypass the edge of the tape measure because it has a metal end. Do not go through the tape measure, just to the line, drop the pressure foot to secure the tape measure.
step 1

with a pencil… mark with a dot the edge of the presser foot. Make a note at the measurement. On my machine, the point where the needle goes down and the edge of my presser foot is 1/4″

If you have lines and numbers on your needle plate, note the distance from the needle to the etched line/number. Mark 1″, and how ever far you want to go. I use 1/4″ markers.

I use the seam guide to make straight lines making sure the lines don’t go off at an angle. Once I am done, I write the measurements on the tape. I now place another layer of scotch tape over the first layer. This will keep the pencil marks from rubbing off. Once again you need to trim all of the tape.
needing to be trimmed

second trim

so there you have it… how I mark my machine for sewing straight lines well beyond 3/4 of an inch.
the end


5 Responses

  1. that’s a good idea, what did you mark with? a magic marker?

    • a freshly sharpened pencil. Even though you are marking on top of tape, I think a marker would make too thick of a line. And don’t forget to cover it in tape after marking so it won’t rub off.

  2. Never mind, I see it now. sorry.

  3. Are you CRAZY????? Why on earth would you mark up the bed of your sewing machine by scoring lines in it.
    Yes, I understand the need for measurement guidelines BUT, there are many other ways of accomplishing this without defacing the machine.

    • My Machine comes with the original lines marked/scoured; 3,4,5 (with the long line) and 6 as seen in the first photo. I could never do as good of a job as is done at the factory… don’t I wish. I have extended the lines down that are already there by adding scotch tape and penciling in lines and then covering with more tape so all my work won’t rub off. I tape all of the machines I use. I even have extended the guide lines on my sergers. Fortunately, it is done with pencil and scotch tape so it can always be removed.

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