A straight stitch in sewing is one of the most important stitches you can learn, but it is still something you’ll have to practice if you want to get good at it. If you’re sewing this stitch by hand, it may be a little more challenging for you, but that doesn’t mean it will be impossible or overly difficult.
For any type of sewing by hand, you need the proper materials, because just like any other creative project, the right tools can make a huge difference in the end. Fortunately, these stitches are not that complicated so getting started is easy. Plus, the supplies you’ll need to do it properly, at least in the beginning, are very inexpensive.
A Step-by-Step Guide to the Perfect Stitch
Since you’ll use a straight stitch in a variety of sewing projects, mastering the stitch is a must. Even basic projects will likely have this stitch in them, so the better you get at it, the better your masterpiece will look once you’re finished with it. The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure your fabric is washed before you start working on it. This is important because it can shrink up later on and even cause some stitches to become uneven.
Next, go ahead and thread your needle properly and get it ready to use. For beginners, this is sometimes a bit of a challenge, but once you practice and learn one of the many ways to thread a needle properly, it will get much easier. Once you do that, you’ll want to mark the fabric so that you know right where you’re supposed to sew the line. For this, you’ll need a straight-edge ruler or something else that can help you make a straight line.
Take some sewing chalk or even a washable pen and draw on the fabric using the ruler so you’ll know for sure that the line is straight. You don’t even have to use special sewing materials to draw the line; just use a book, a piece of cardboard, a box, or anything else that has a straight edge on it. Again, you don’t have to buy anything expensive or something found in a sewing store – just find something that is straight-edged and you’re all set!
Always make sure you tie a knot on the end of your thread so that the thread doesn’t just go through the fabric. Each sewer has their own way of making this knot, so just use what works best for you. As long as the thread is the right length and you’re comfortable with the needle you’re using, that’s all that matters.
From there, you simply sew over the straight line to come up with the perfect stitch. Although it isn’t complicated to sew a professional-looking straight stitch, it is still going to take practice for it to look neat and clean when you’re finished. As with everything else that is considered crafty, practice makes perfect!
In fact, you may want to start practicing this stitch on some scrap fabric that you’re not planning to use on any other project. This way, you can sew and re-sew until you’ve mastered the stitch perfectly. Only at that point will you be able to do it correctly and comfortably on a real project.
After you’ve completed the stitch, bring your needle up through the loop of the last stitch so that the stitch is secure. Sew another stitch, then go through this loop again for one more time. When you’re done, pull tight on the thread to make sure the stitch isn’t too loose, then snip off any loose ends with a pair of scissors.
Embroidering a Straight Stitch
When you’re embroidering, the process for sewing a basic straight stitch is very similar to completing this stitch for a sewing project. In fact, for both embroidery and basic sewing projects, you’ll find that this stitch comes in handy on a regular basis.
For example, you can use the stitch to sew two pieces of fabric together, to sew a border onto an article of clothing or a piece of fabric, for hemming pants or dresses, and even when you’re interested in teaching children some basic sewing functions. Indeed, learning to successfully do straight stitches is of utmost importance when you’re learning to sew or embroider.
If you’re curious about the two main factors to learning how to stitch straight, it is really simple: age and practice. Regardless of your age, you’ll have to practice to get any sewing stitch right. In addition, your age is important because the older you get the easier it is for you.
What does age have to do with it? If you’re learning to sew when you’re 10 years old, you likely don’t have the best hand-eye coordination to complete the task successfully. As you get older, your hand-eye coordination greatly improves and, therefore, it becomes much easier to sew certain stitches successfully.
When you practice, not only does the end result turn out much better, but each step of the process becomes simpler as well. At first, you’ll be marking the entire straight line before you start sewing, but as you gain experience you can start using a dotted line instead. Finally, after you’re an experienced pro, you’ll be able to put just three dots on the fabric, for the top, bottom, and midpoint of the stitch.
Regular Practice Is the Key
Practicing these straight stitches is always going to be beneficial, and you can start with steps similar to the ones mentioned above except you begin by drawing several straight lines, not just one. Take your favorite needle and thread and just jump right in and start sewing. You can make at least one of the lines just a few inches long if you like, then make more lines later on that are a little longer.
If you’re a beginner, it’s important to always make sure the line you draw with your fabric pencil is a solid line, not a line of dashes or dots. Evenness is important when you’re learning to sew a straight stitch, and a solid line will help you make sure the stitch is a little more straight in the end.
The good news is, once you start to get a little better at this stitch you can go ahead and draw a set of dashes instead of a straight line. After you complete the dashed line, try practicing by sewing a stitch only on each of the “missing” stitches on your drawing; in other words, just sew every other stitch instead of one stitch after another.
Finally, when you feel like you’ve mastered these techniques well, take your fabric pencil and create some lines by only using three dots – one at the top of the stitch, one at the bottom, and one in the middle of the stitch. This is one of the best ways to practice straight stitches because there are no lines for you to follow and, therefore, you’ll need to know what you’re doing!
When you take that piece of practice fabric and start drawing your lines, go ahead and draw five to six of them or more, varying the length of each stitch so your practice is more efficient. This will give you lots of valuable practice time and will bring you a lot closer to being a great sewer.
Another good piece of advice is to use a vanishing fabric marker, which is great because not only is it not permanent, but it usually disappears within 24 to 48 hours, allowing you to see firsthand how straight of a job you did after you’re finished. If you want the line from the marker to go away sooner than 24 to 48 hours, just dab the line with a wet washcloth or rinse the fabric out with cold water.
You can do these things on embroidery materials as well. Just draw numerous lines and start practicing. In some ways, it’s easier to embroider this stitch than to sew it on a piece of fabric because you can work with a taut fabric when embroidering. You’ll be surprised by how easy it is to learn this way. A straight stitch never looked so good!
Video: Straight Stitch Tutorial
Regardless of how easy or difficult your next sewing project is, chances are good it will have a few straight stitches in it, and if you’re sewing by hand, you simply have to be good at this stitch for the project to look good when you’re done. Practicing a lot is important because only with constant and regular practice will you be able to end up with even, neat-looking stitches once you finish practicing.
Regardless of your level of experience, learning to do a good straight stitch helps make you a great sewer, and this is yet another reason to make sure you keep all of those scraps of fabric. Leftover fabric pieces give you lots of practicing opportunities, so before you know it, you can be sewing like a real professional.