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  1. #1
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    Straight Seams - How

    I need some encouragement to decide to make myself a tarp. I've made many hammocks, sacks, and just finished an underquilt, so I think I have the skills to do it.

    What worries me is getting good straight seams. I don't think there is a straight seam on anything I've done, which would make any tarp a real pain to deal with.

    How can I make sure to get them straight?

    Thanks.

    Jbo

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ekul's Avatar
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    4inches at a time and patience. Silnylon is slick....LOTS of pins. If you arent selling it straight doesnt matter imo. Practice makes perfect. Im sure the pros here started in the same place you are right now.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Perkolady's Avatar
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    One suggestion-

    Take a piece of painters tape (or any other kind) and place it on your sewing machine, on or near your threadplate, at whatever distance away from the needle you want your seams to be. It'll act as a visual as you feed the fabric into the machine.

    HTHs

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ekul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perkolady View Post
    One suggestion-

    Take a piece of painters tape (or any other kind) and place it on your sewing machine, on or near your threadplate, at whatever distance away from the needle you want your seams to be. It'll act as a visual as you feed the fabric into the machine.

    HTHs

    good point.

    My first problem I overcame was staring at the needle. If you look a 1" or so in front of it, my hems got better once I started doing this.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Perkolady's Avatar
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    It's a good idea to watch the edge of the fabric as it's feeding through, rather than looking at the needle. That's one nice thing about the tape- it helps to keep you looking at the tape and fabric edge lining up.

    Another thing that helps keep things more even, especially when working on something large like a tarp, is to roll up the excess fabric and try to keep most of it up at the same level as where you're sewing machine is, and try to move the whole shebang at the same rate as you're sewing so things don't start pulling at different angles.

  6. #6
    Frawg's Avatar
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    Another thing I find helpful is to use weights to help keep the extra cloth from moving around. Big pieces of sil like to slide and fall all over the place. I like to use tuna fish cans for the weights but whatever you have in the cupboard will do.
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  7. #7
    Whoooo Buddy)))) Shug's Avatar
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    Let the machine do the work .... don't force it and go steady ....
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  8. #8
    Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    Hand placement is important as well. Don't watch the needle as has been stated. But grasp the edge of your fabric about 9 - 12" away from the business end of the machine. Pull it taut (not tight). That gives you a straight edge to feed through the machine. "Steer from the rear" which means allow that right hand to make the adjustments to the fabric as you go. Because you are fairly far a away it is very easy to make small adjustments to improve the tracking. By the same token, if you sneeze when holding the fabric that far away you will retrack the fabric in the direction of the West Coast. There is considerable debate about the fabric speed going through the machine. Some people find slow is easier but others prefer a faster speed. The reasoning is as follows:

    Slow speed: if you get off track you don't get as much crooked seam line as if you were going faster. However, when you go offtrack the problem is more concentrated in one short area and can really show up like a sore thumb.

    Fast speed : The fabric is moving taster which means that irregularities are spread out over a longer span and are often not as obvious. A little movement left or right is easier to adjust when you are going faster. The down side is faster means the fabric can get a way from you more.

    The long and short of it is practice, practice, practice.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

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  9. #9
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    If you figure it out, let Grizz know, his seams are more crooked then Nixon.
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  10. #10
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    If you do use pins, try to put them in line with where you make the seam, OUTSIDE the seam into the rolled fabric, where they won't leave holes in the tarp itself. Poke through all layers of the rolled seam, then back up through and flatten the fabric along the pin. Try to keep all the pin heads pointed toward you so that as you are sewing along the seam, you can nudge the pin backward toward you and get it out of the way of the foot. I used to sew the hem edges of skirts this way.

    With sil I use those tiny binder clips instead of pins, and roll a few feet of seam at a time, pull them off as they approach the foot, stop at the last one and set up again. But my projects are smaller than tarps. Either way it will help you maintain a nice even seam width.

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