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Six Easy Ways to Sew a Straight Line: Janome Specialty Presser Feet

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A straight line. It seems like the most basic thing you can do when sewing. But we’re amazed by the number of comments and questions we get from S4H visitors who want to know how to do it better, easier, and more consistently. We don’t have any magical powers to make our seams and topstitching look great. What we do know is using the right foot for the job is the real secret to a beautifully straight line. Because we’re an exclusive Janome studio, our specialty presser feet suggestions are from the Janome selection of accessories. Your machine manufacturer may have similar options for your make and model. In either situation, the recommendation is the same: investing in a specifically designed presser foot is well worth it. It makes the process less frustrating, you can finish a task quicker, and the results are more professional. 

Quarter Inch Seam Foot

This is one of the most basic options for keeping on the straight and narrow. A Quarter Inch Seam Foot is included as a standard part with many machine models. There is a flange positioned on the foot exactly ¼” (6mm) from the center of the needle hole, giving you a perfect quarter inch seam with a straight stitch. Some models, such as the Janome Skyline S7 pictured below, have a specific stitch selection to insure the needle position is perfect. Check your machine's manual to confirm your correct needle drop. Align the flange against the side of the fabric and stitch. Keep the fabric running right against the flange throughout your stitching.

Edge Guide Foot

One of our favorite specialty feet for precise topstitching and edgestitching is the Edge Guide Foot. The way it works is similar to the Quarter Inch Seam Foot above, as well as some options below, in that there is a flange to help guide your fabric. The cool thing is that it’s adjustable, so you can position that flange exactly where you need it. The scale on the front of the foot is marked in 1mm units. Attach the foot, adjust your needle drop position (if necessary), lower the needle, and lower the foot. With your needle set, simply turn the adjusting thumb screw on the foot to butt the flange against the edge of the fabric. That’s it; you’re ready to stitch super straight. We especially love this foot for very narrow edgestitching along straps and handles.

Border Guide Foot 

If you want to sew a number of perfectly parallel rows of stitches for a decorative effect, you'd normally have to get out your ruler and fabric pencils or spend time constantly adjusting a quilting guide bar. But the Border Guide Foot lets you do it with virtually no measuring or marking. Simply line up your previous row of stitching between the red guide lines on the foot and you can immediately sew perfectly spaced rows. It’s also a great option for straight line quilting. The “wings” of the foot extend both to the left and the right of the needle so everything can stay even while moving across your fabric from either direction. 

Ditch Quilting Foot

A Ditch Quilting Foot is like a laser line for keeping a straight seam. All you need to do is align your fabric so the foot’s center guide is in the ditch created by the previous seam you’re following. As you sew, the guide spreads the seam ever so slightly, allowing you to stitch perfectly “in the ditch.” It’s great for reinforcing seams, quilting that follows a seam line, or you can run the guide along a drawn line for things like pocket panel divisions. We’re showing the version of the foot available for the built-in Janome AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system on our Skyline machine. Standard presser feet are also available. 

As a little extra tip, the photo below shows how you can use the center flange on a Blind Hem Foot to create a similar effect. The stitch is not as perfectly buried in the ditch as it is with a true Ditch Quilting Foot, but instead runs just to the right of the seam. Could be an interesting option when you want a bit more contrast to your straight stitching. 

Sliding Guide Foot

Want even more adjustment flexibility? The Sliding Guide Foot has a perfectly balanced outboard guide you can smoothly slide to the right then lock into place, from ⅜" to 1⅛" from the center needle drop (10mm - 30mm). The foot contains both inch and millimeter markers so you can align the proper width, lock the measurement in place, and stitch straight and true. We did a full review of this foot you can read for even more information. 

Clear View Quilting Foot and Guide Set

Want a way to get several of these straight line helpers in one foot? Gotcha covered! The Clear View Quilting Foot and Guide Set comes with two interchangeable guides: the Quarter Inch Guide and the Ditch Stitch Guide. In addition, as shown below, the foot itself is clearly marked with red guide lines for ⅛" and ¼" seam allowances, as well as cornering marks for both ⅛" and ¼" seams in front and behind the needle drop. Check out our full review to see exactly how to use this cool three-in-one foot.

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Comments (14)

sherry the sewer said:
sherry the sewer's picture

Where can you find a list of feet and what they each do.  I have 2 Janome's and not all the feet can be interchanged. I would love to know what feet are out there and what to use them for.  

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@sherry the sewer - you can find a list of compatible feet by looking up your machine on the main janome.com website: http://janome.com/en/products/machines/

In addition, if you stop by your local Janome Dealer, you can ask for the Janome Accessories Catalog. These catalogs are only available from your Dealer and there may be a cost associated, but they are super handy. 

Elaine Love said:
Elaine Love's picture

Hi Liz - Thanks for the article!  I went over to Montavilla and bought the Sliding Guide Foot!  I want to start trying straight line quilting.  Let's see how it goes. ~ Cheers!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

Hi Elaine! Well that sounds just perfect. I think you'll like it. Can't wait to see your next quilt!

Therese J. Campagna aka Memere said:
Therese J. Campagna aka Memere's picture

In the manual for my Janome Skyline S5 it says to use the 1/4" foot in Mode 1 #s 05, 06 and 07. Sometimes the seam is 1/3" rather than 1/4". Is that because I've used the wrong number with this foot in Mode 1? I like the foot but it seems rather limited, especially for an over seventy person like myself who needs enhanced vision aids.

Thanks for the help

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Therese - As mentioned above, you do need to combine the Quarter Inch Foot with the proper stitch/Mode in order to get that precise 1/4" seam allowance. So, yes, do make sure you are selecting the proper stitch in Mode 1 when you want a 1/4" seam. It is a great foot for seaming as well as for many edgestitching situations. You may also want to check with your Janome Dealer when you have a chance to see what add-on options they may have available for magnification. Ask them about the AcuView Magnifier: http://www.janome.com/en/accessories/accessories/optic-magnifier/

Sharon Russo said:
Sharon Russo's picture

I use the 7700 for quilting with the accu feed feet.  I have a problem using the grid bar, it does not stay tight with the accufee feet.  Is there anything else that works better, or do any of the feet you're showing work with accu feed? 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Sharon - We don't have a 7700 in our studio, so we can't give you a 100% review, but in looking at the 7700 page on the janome.com website (link below), it lists a Border Guide foot as part of the standard accessories, which would be an excellent option to try since you can line up a previous line of stitching similarly to how you use a quilt bar. Beyond that, check with your local Janome dealer if you can – perhaps she/he has some other suggestions for optional feet as well as a solution to why your guide bar isn't as tight as it needs to be. 

http://janome.com/en/machines/sewing/jnh7700/

Ev said:
Ev's picture

I have been wondering if the ditch stitch guide on the clear view foot would be useful to someone learning to understitch facings. I teach sewing to children and understitching is not usually included in their instructions until they have been sewing for some time; even though they have patterns with facings very early on, I would like to introduce this earlier, because many of them only take sewing lessons for a year or two and when their bodies require more fitting (they grow) they move on to other things that aren't garment related..

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Ev - That seems like a dandy idea - it could definitely help them keep a straight line of stitching. They might have to adjust the needle position just a bit as you might not want it quite as close as you'd get with the center needle position. In our understitching tutoril, we used the open toe satin stitch foot on our Janome, which gives a wonderful clear view of the stitch, but you are in control of the straightness of the seam. 

http://www.sew4home.com/tips-resources/sewing-tips-tricks/understitching...

Andi said:
Andi 's picture

these are nicer than the pieces of tape I have been usin. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Andi -- Maybe juuuuuuuuust a litte bit better 

Lynne Tilley said:
Lynne Tilley's picture

Thanks for the great tips on various presser feet!  It's always great to have new tips and options that we don't always know!  Thanks!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Lunne - You are so welcome. Have the right feet for the job is SO important 

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