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 that 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 how 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 a 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 snap-on Ditch Quilting 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.