Once you have learnt how to set up your machine and thread it up, now comes the fun part where you can sew your very first line of stitches!

When you first learn to sew you are best to use a non-slippery, non-stretchy medium weight fabric that doesnt cost a fortune so you can afford to do lots of practising and makes some mistakes. So fabrics like calicopolycotton or cotton poplin are perfect fabrics to start with.

Its a good idea to use a thread in a different colour to your fabric. So black on white is good or you can choose something brighter! By doing this you can easily see your stitches on the fabric and monitor how you stitches get better with practice.

In this 'How to Stitch a Straight Line' tutorial I am going to show you how to stitch your very first stitches in a straight line (surprisingly!) and how to finish them off neatly.

Firstly you want to check that your machine is turned on, threaded up correctly and set up so that it will stitch a straight stitch. On my machine you set it to a straight stitch by twisting the top knob until the green colour is beside the straight stitch symbol (which is simply '------'). If yours is a more expensive model they you may only need to press a button. Or at the other end of the scale some very basic machines will only stitch a straight stitch which means you can skip this part!

You also have the option of different straight stitch lengths, but at this stage this isnt important, so we will stick with a medium-length stitch. Again you just need to check your machine is set at this. If yours is a more expensive machine where you press the button to set it to a straight stitch it should do this by default.

Next place your fabric under the presser foot with the area you want to stitch in front of the machine. The machine will take your fabric from front to back so the fabric you put behind the foot wont be stitched. Lower the presser foot to hold it in place as this will hold your fabric down while you sew.

The top thread should be under the presser foot but on top of the fabric, and the lower/bobbin thread underneath the fabric. Both threads should be sticking out towards the back so you don?t sew over them or get them tangled.

Now you are ready to sew, so turn on your machine, place your hands on the fabric at either side of the presser foot so you can guide it through and remember not to put your fingers anywhere near the needle as you put pressure down on the foot pedal! Press the foot pedal down gently to begin with.

Some machines have speed settings which control the speed at which you stitch. Others dont have this so you need to learn how to control the speed with how much pressure you put on the foot pedal. This takes time and practice, but will come naturally quicker than you think!

When you have finished stitching raise your presser foot and pull the fabric a little away from the machine so you can cut the top and bottom thread loose with sharp scissors - these are always handy to have around when sat at the machine. Remember your needle will have to be raised for you to be able to do this so use the hand wheel at the right hand side of your machine to turn the needle up if neccessary. Please watch the video below to see how!

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When you come to sew clothes or other projects you will want to secure your stitches at the beginning and end so that they dont unravel. The best and easiest way I find to do this is to use the reverse stitch. This works by beginning with stitching 2 or 3 stitches, then stitching 2 or 3 stitches in reverse over the top of these stitches and then continuing stitching your line forward. Then when you reach the end, stitch 2 or 3 stitches in reverse back over your stitch line and then 2 or 3 stitches forward. Then just snip the top and bottom thread close to the fabric. It is a neat and secure way of starting and finishing your stitch lines so they wont unravel. Please watch the video below to see how.

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A good way to practice sewing in very neat straight lines is to draw straight lines on your fabric (in pencil) and then sew directly on top of them as straight as you can! You wont be perfect at first. Just keep at it and with some practice you will see your lines getting straighter and straighter!

Thank you for reading. I hope this has been an informative post and will encourage you on your way towards sewing with your machine. For further tutorials please visit the Minerva Crafts Learn to Sew page.

Happy Sewing everyone!