How to Set a Sewing Machine Seam Guide for Accurate Seam Allowances

What You Need to Set a Seam Gauge

Woman using sewing machine
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After accurately cutting out a pattern, the easiest way to assure that pattern pieces will fit together is to make sure your seam allowances are accurate. Teaching yourself to watch a seam guide and not the moving sewing machine needle will help maintain consistent seams allowances

Materials Needed

  • Tape measure
  • Sewing machine
  • Seam guide
  • Sewing gauge

Find the seam allowance requirements in the pattern directions and the corresponding mark on the tape measure.

Using the Tape Measure on the Sewing Machine

lining up the tape measure on the sewing machine
The Spruce / Debbie Colgrove

Place the machine needle down on the mark on the tape measure. Place the presser foot down on the tape measure, making sure you have the tape measure straight by lining up the other markings on the tape measure with the side of the presser foot.

Setting the Seam Gauge on the Sewing Machine

Place the seam gauge at the end of the tape measure.
The Spruce / Debbie Colgrove

Place your seam guide at the end of the tape measure being sure it is perpendicular to the end of the tape measure. Do not make your seam guide longer than you need it to line fabric up as the passes under the sewing machine needle.

Setting Your Seam Guide for Sewing Curves

Setting a seam guide for curved seams
The Spruce / Debbie Colgrove

When you are sewing curves it is essential to have a turning point that is directly horizontal to the machine needle. To set this point, set the sewing gauge directly behind the needle, setting the end of the gauge even with the edge of the seam guide. Draw a line along the edge of the gauge. The mark at the edge of the seam guide is where you need to line up the fabric as you sew a curve.