Straight seams may seem like a not brainer. But anyone who has sewn two Width of Fabric (WOF) strips together can attest that keeping a long seam straight isn’t as easy as you may think. Here are a few tips for keeping those seams straight, which will help keep your blocks and quilt square.

  1. Cut with the weave of the fabric. There are a few tips for this in a previous post.
  2. Measure your fabric carefully to ensure it is straight when it is cut.
  3. When sewing multiple strips together, start at opposite ends for each new strip. That will rotate the direction of sewing, which reverses any subtle “pulling” of the fabric.
  4. Press seams, not iron seams. Whether you realize it or not, ironing pushes the fabric, which can introduce warping. When pressing, place a ruler next to the piece to ensure it is straight, especially for long seams.
  5. Note how you stop and start a seam, this is where most of the “drifting” occurs. That may be due to the weight of the fabric pulling it to one side or the other. If that is the case, use an extended table to keep the fabric the same height as the bed of your sewing machine.
  6. Use a seam guide if you have trouble keeping the fabric straight. Here are a few ideas for seam guides:
    • Some sewing machines come with feet that have built in guides, such as for edging.
    • Adhesive tape or grids can be added to the bed of your sewing machine to help keep you square.
    • Add a laser guide to your sewing machine. This visual guide is great for sewing diagonals.
    • Draw a seam line on the back of the fabric. This visual guide works well for Y-seams such as sewing diamonds or hexies.
    • Use a magnetic seam guide, which attaches to your sewing machine bed. This is a physical guide. For strip piecing, these work really well if you can get it close enough to your feed dogs.
    • Use layers of painter’s tape or moleskin to create your own seam guide. This is a physical guide. This is especially useful when you have repetitive seams.

There are many ways to help you get it and keep it straight. You may find different methods work better for certain applications. Find the way that works best for you.

Happy Quilting!