Learning to Sew: More Than Just a Straight Line

Over the past couple days, I’ve shared my experiences becoming friends with my sewing machine. I’ve learned how to thread the machine properly, and I practiced stitches while I got all my fabrics pre-washed. So it was finally time to complete my first actual project and tackle Lesson #1 in the Learn to Sew series. The goal of this first lesson was to sew a straight line. After just practicing, the project was to complete baby burp cloths using cloth diapers and some fabric. I have to say, I learned so much more in this first lesson than just sewing a straight line.

1. In order to sew a straight line, you must be able to CUT and PIN a straight line.

I needed to press about 1/2″ all around so that when the fabric was sewn on, it had a nice clean edge. Yeah, I’m not that great at cutting straight yet, and I didn’t trust myself to try and press the fabric evenly so I pinned all the edges using my cutting mat lines as a guide.

Someone is going to tell me I didn’t need to do this right? And there’s some magical alternative that doesn’t require pinning the whole thing?

Once it was pinned, I carefully pressed the whole thing, being careful to tuck in the corners so that they would be clean when sewing to the cloth diaper.

2. Sewing a straight line is easy when you’re sewing a few inches on a practice strip. Sewing a straight linen for nearly 20″ takes a lot more patience!

After pinning the fabric to the cloth diaper, I used the edge of the fabric as my guide for sewing the straight lines all around. Not too shabby. I even got “fancy” and used a turquoise thread for the top and white thread on the bottom. I even managed to do well turning at the corners.

The stitch is a little “wobbly” in some parts, but I was happy with this first attempt. I even managed to keep a clean little white edge.

3. Sewing Close to the Edge of Fabric is HARD

I didn’t make any more of these (don’t currently have any friends with babies, and did not enjoy working with the cloth diapers), but I wanted to take another stab at working a straight stitch for longer lengths of fabric. So, I decided to sew closer to the edges since it was about 1/2″ of fabric hanging off outside the stitch.

This was much harder as I found myself staring at the needle and drifting off the edge of the fabric. I finally figured out that I needed to watch how the fabric lined up with the presser foot instead of watching where it was with the needle. But you can see I sometimes missed the fabric all together.

4. Prepping Takes Longer Than Sewing

All in all, I only actually sewed for about 10 minutes. But it took me a LOT longer than that to wash, iron, cut, pin, and press the fabric to get ready for that. Mentally, I had no realized that “sewing” something is a whole lot more work than actually sewing. But it was rewarding to have worked through all of that for this very simple first project. I look forward to moving on to Lesson #2!


  1. Jenny says:

    I think it is great that you are learning how to sew. It is such a valuable skill to have that has saved us $$ on several occasions. I agree, it is very difficult to sew close to the edge without going over. Your project looks great though! You should be pleased. :)

    • Girl Going Country says:

      Thanks, Jenny! I’m looking forward to continuing to work through new skills and just practicing, practicing, practicing. :-)

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