Weekly Tips: Check your seam allowance!

When you have handy seam allowance markings on your needle plate, it's easy to get used to relying on them. But keep in mind that those markings are only accurate when your needle is in the center position. If you are sewing a different stitch, such as a zig-zag, your needle position may change and throw your seam allowance off!

The metal puzzle piece looking doodad you see below is a Measuring Gauge. I picked mine up when I took a bramaking class (where this tip was first revealed to me - I can't believe I hadn't thought of it before!). It's a little confusing at first glance, but it makes measuring the tiny spaces around your needle much easier!

Today I needed to use the lightning stitch (a narrow zig-zag stitch used for sewing knits) and thought this would be a great time to demonstrate how this works.

Here, my machine is set to a regular straight stitch with the needle in center position. You may notice my foot is a little different - this is a clear presser foot with standard seam allowances marked along the right side. It's my favorite! The line in the middle marks center position and then 1/8", 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", and 5/8" at the very edge.

You can see that as long as I'm sewing with the needle in center position, the first line from the very edge correctly marks the 1/2" seam allowance that I'm using.

Here I flipped the gauge around so that you can see the markings better.

I just set my machine to the lightning stitch. As you can see, my needle has now moved to the left of where it was. When I measure from the center of my needle, a 1/2" seam allowance now lines up with the second line from the edge (which would normally be the 3/8" line). So in order to come out with a correct seam allowance, I need to follow that line instead.

Just to be extra sure, I measured my final seam allowance after sewing. A perfect 1/2"!

Let me know if you're finding these tips helpful. I have a lot more lined up!

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