Sewing Blog

4 Tricks Make Your Topstitching Perfectly Straight — Every Time!

Straight Stitches on a Jeans Pocket Topstitch

The best way to sew a professional-looking project is to be neat and tidy: pressing every seam and topstitching them perfectly straight. You might be surprised to know you can use a blind hemming foot or a zipper foot to topstitch your project! Here are a few hacks to ensure you get the most professional look quickly and easily.

Learn 4 sewing machine hacks for straight top stitching

Before beginning, make sure your seams are straight with these simple ways to sew in a straight line

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Beginner's Guide to Sewing Professional-Quality Seams

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Straight stitches hack #1: Use a blind hemming foot

A blind hemming foot has a small metal divider designed to keep your hem in place as it is being sewn. This little divider is the key to a perfect topstitch! 

Position your fabric under the foot, to the left of the divider. Move your needle to the left, so it is in position to sew about 1/8″ to the left of the metal divider. Stitch your topstitch, keeping the fabric edge up against the divider.

Blind Hem foot and ProjectBlind Hem foot top-stitching projectstraight top-stitched project with Blind Hem foot

Straight stitching hack #2: Use a zipper foot

This hack will work with many of your common or uncommon machine feet. I have chosen to illustrate it by using a zipper foot.

Choose a foot with two characteristics: The right edge of the foot needs to line up with the edge of the fabric, and it needs a needle placement option that fits your desired topstitch width. This zipper foot allows the needle to stitch close to the edge of the fabric. Its right side also lines up with the edge of the fabric so your eye has something to follow as you stitch your seam.

Place your fabric under the foot so the right edge of your chosen machine foot is even with the right edge of the fabric. Position the needle to the right at your desired topstitch width. Sew your seam, keeping your eye on the right side of the foot so it stays even with the edge of the fabric.

Zipper Foot and Top-Stitching projectZipper Foot Needle Right ready to Top-StitchStraight Top-stitching with Zipper foot

Straight stitching hack #3: Use a marked zigzag foot

There are two ways to use your regular zigzag machine foot, and both of these are perfect for machines without a movable needle position.

Some zigzag feet have markings or lines that you can use as a guide when topstitching. My Janome zigzag foot has a clear area in the center, and I often use the right side of this area to line up a topstitch. If this is not the case for your foot, you can easily hack your machine foot to provide the same result.

Position your fabric under the zigzag foot so the area to be topstitched is under the left side of the foot. Mark the seam you are topstitching with a small piece of washi tape or painter’s tape. Stitch your seam, keeping your eye on the left edge of the tape and using it to keep the topstitch straight.

Zigzag foot ready to top-stitchZigzag foot with washi tape ready to Top-StitchStraight Top-stitching with Zigzag Foot

Straight stitching hack #4: Use a blind hem and 1/4″ seam foot

Using a blind hem foot and a 1/4″ seam foot together produces an amazingly straight double topstitch. You can use the 1/4″ seam foot on its own if you need a wide topstitch. However, though one topstitched seam is professional, two seams add more detail and value to the finished project. 

Stitch a topstitch close to the edge with a blind hem foot as shown below. Place the 1/4″ seam foot with the topstitching under the left side of the divider. Move your needle to the right, so it is in position to sew your desired topstitch width. Stitch your topstitch, keeping the fabric edge up against the divider. 

Straight Top-stitched stitches with Blind Hem FootQuarter Inch Foot ready to Top-StitchDouble Straight Top-stitching with Blind Hem & Quarter Inch Foot

FREE Guide: How to Sew Professional-Quality Seams

Beginner's Guide to Sewing Professional-Quality Seams

Whether you’re working with lightweight or heavy-duty fabric, discover simple steps for sewing seams that look polished and professional.Get My FREE Guide »

8 Comments

jen

I think many of these examples are actually edge-stitching, not topstitching. (Edgestitching = 1/8 – 3/16 inch from edge). I use a blind-hem foot for edge stitching, but the flexibility of the blade can cause some problems. It can go over the edge if one is not careful, but an actual edge stitching foot is not in my budget these days. Topstitching is usually 1/4 inch or more from the edge, so the blind-hem foot cannot be used for that. Better to just use a foot with markings and take it slowly, with a larger stitch and a sharp needle, IMO.

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Peggy

I use my zigzag foot for top stitching all of the time. For regular top stitching I move the needle all the way over to the right side. For the double stitching, I just put my sewing machine needle in the center position when doing the second row of stitching. That simple…

Reply
Louise

Another thing that helps is to have your nose lined up with your needle. I learned this from an old tailor that had a show on PBS in the 70’s. It sure has worked for me. Also don’t look where your needle is. but ahead so you can make corrections before it stitches

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Patsy Sweetra

I had no luck downloading the topstitching guide from the provided link. I searched the entire Craftsy site for it but had no luck that way either. Is it no longer available?

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Kelly

Ditto no free guide says not available but I just got this email today.

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Lisa Feldmann

The hyperlink for the free guide does not work for me as many other links to free products on this site. For instance, when I click on a free pattern or guide, there is no action completed that adds it to my cart. I have perused potential solutions on FAQ but nothing seems to help.

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