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basic problem

rainy | Posted in General Discussion on


I am new and am going to ask a question that has been asked hundreds of times. I am embarrissed after all my years of sewing to still be having this problem.

How do I keep two pieces of fabric, exactly the same size, fitting perfectly at the beginning and end of a straight seam. I am forever having one stretch longer.




  1. LindaFaye | | #1


    I know this is a crazy question, but are you pin basting before you sew; or pin basting and then hand basting before you sew, or are you just putting the two pieces of fabric together and sewing?

    1. rainy | | #4

      Thanks for your interest. It is not a crazy question. When I was younger I did try to sew without pinning. It was awful. Pinning is tedious but necessary.  I still find slack gathers even though pinned. mind you, the problem is less when I pin.

  2. Teaf5 | | #2

    Most likely, your pressure foot tension is too tight; it's an adjustment on most machines somewhere above the needle, either a dial or a numbered collar at the top left of the machine. 

    On really stiff cottons, it's ok to have it tight, pressing the foot against the feed dogs.  On looser weaves, knits, or anything with a nap (corduroy, velveteen, or fleece), you need to loosen it so that the bottom fabric isn't pressed so hard against the feed dogs and the two layers aren't pressed so tightly together.

    1. rainy | | #5

      Thank you.

      This makes sense because I have a fairly new and unfamiliar machine (kenmore) and I have not been sewing for a few years. I am retired now and do a lot of sewing for my grand daughter

  3. PASDENOM | | #3

    More likely than one stretching is the bottom one being gathered up by the feed dogs. A way to prevent this is "taut sewing" where you grip the two layers a couple of inches in front of and behind the presser foot. Don't stretch them, just hold them so they're not slack and they stay the same length as they feed through. You have to let go and reposition your hands every couple of inches. It also helps to baste so the layers can't differ too much before you notice it as the top one bulges up and you can lift your presser foot and readjust the layers.

    1. rainy | | #6

      Thanks for the tip, I appreciate your help. From the advice I am getting, it seems I must get more familiar with this new machine.

      1. MaryinColorado | | #7

        Another thought on this:  sew in the same direction on both sides of the garment.  Such as from underarm to hem, if you go up on one seam and down on the other, it can cause irregularities.  Mary

        1. rainy | | #8

          Thanks, I never thought of that

  4. sleevelength | | #9

    I find that lifting the fabric in front of the presser foot helps.  I feed it like it's climbing a hill.

    1. user-217847 | | #10

      Hello there Rainy, welcome the the forum.

       I'm not a great sewer, but I use a walking foot without problems.


      1. rainy | | #11

        Thanks Lee

        1. fabricholic | | #17

          Hey Rainy,I just have to tell you this. I gave my daughter the middle name of Lorraine, because I love the rain. I like your name, obviously.Marcy

          1. rainy | | #18

            Thanks Marcy

            I grew up in Ontario and met extremely few 'Lorraine's, but when I moved to the Yukon Territories I meet a 'Lorraine' every time I turn around

          2. MaryinColorado | | #19

            I wanted to name my daughter April Rain but another mom in the neighborhood had her baby first and used the name!  I was so dismayed for awhile.  She was born in the South and it rained the whole season, of course she was an April baby.  I still think it is so pretty.

          3. fabricholic | | #20

            That is very pretty. What part of the South? I live in Alabama, so that is why I ask.Marcy

          4. rainy | | #21

            I think April Rain is a lovely name. I would be upset too. I live in the Yukon Territories, Canada. Maybe I should be called Snow White.

            Lorraine Wright

          5. MaryinColorado | | #22

            Snow White is a better idea than the ice queen or snowflake!  I came up with my youngest niece's name as they wanted a mountain type name.  Laurel for the mountain laurel that grows where they lived.  (better than Ivy for the poison Ivy, there are many many Aspen's and boys named Birch and both named River)  I always loved the name Tera Shay which means "earthly joy" and Dawn.  For some reason I never used poetic names for my own children after all.

          6. rainy | | #23

            I love your names. too bad you didn't use them. My granddaughter is 'Rowen' after the Rowen Tree in Ireland

          7. MaryinColorado | | #24

            that is so pretty, I like nature related everything

  5. solosmocker | | #12

    I agree with PASDEMON and Mary in Colorado completely. A walking foot will eliminate this problem hence forth but taut sewing and lots of pin or hand basting will help also. Keep in mind that what currently is a problem for you can also be used to your advantage. Any time you need to ease in a longer seam, ie, princess seams, or sleeves put the longer edge toward the feed dogs and let them do the work for you. You have gotten some good advice here. I will admit to not knowing the effect of feed dogs and for years ended up with either the back or front leg longer than its other side. Drove me nuts! LOL! Sandra Betzina's book, Power Sewing tuned me into the feed dogs and making them work for you not against you. Good luck.

    1. rainy | | #13

      Thanks for the advice, I am dating myself now, but I thought the general foot supplied with machines were walking feet. I remember when none of them were hinged..

      I also sant to thank everyone who took the time to answer. It was a warm welcome.


      1. sherryv | | #14


        You've gotten great info here already, but I'd just like to add another resource that I found to address this issue:  Janet Pray's book "Island Sewing Systems I."  The info comes from a former garment industry worker with great insights.  One section in particular discusses how the machines work, why it does what you describe, and how to compensate for it - sewing more accurately, faster, and without pins!  Excellent photos and exercises, solved the problem for me in one sitting.  You might see if your local library has a copy; highly recommended reading!  :)

        1. rainy | | #15

          Thanks Sherry

          I will get it


          1. sherryv | | #16

            whoops, should be "Islander Sewing Systems" not "Island" - sorry!  not enough coffee :)

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