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Ultimate Seam Guide

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Christian Tamez

Christian Tamez has been crafting and creating for years. More recently, heʼ’s been happy to share some of his ideas and collected techniques for crafting through his YouTube channel. Always happy and eager to learn something new, he looks forward to meeting new crafters and seeing their creations. He currently resides in Narragansett, Rhode Island

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Like any sewer, I am always trying new things to make my sewing look more professional. The Ultimate Seam Guide seemed right up my alley. The Ultimate Seam Guide is a thin, clear plastic accessory that you tape directly onto your sewing machine. Marked with a number of lines which are clearly indicated by inch measurements, you trim this to custom fit your machine.


The time finally came to use the seam guide, and I found that I had to trim away quite a bit in order for it to fit my machine. I came to the realization that ideally you would have a built in table or cabinet for your sewing machine in order to fully use the seam guide the way it was designed. Nevertheless I marked out my feed dogs with tape, and trimmed away. The directions ask that you use scissors which is something I missed at the beginning and soon found out that an exacto knife would not easily cut through the plastic. I switched to scissors and found that right around the feed dog area that the scissors left a jagged edge, that could possibly snag a delicate fabric. I pulled out the exacto, scored numerous times and was able to remove the jagged edge.




Since this is a removable add-on accessory, you attach the seam guide with tape. Now because you have to trim away the area around the feed dogs, you lose the red dotted line that you’re supposed to line up with your needle. I worked around this by lining the markings of the seam guide with the markings on the sole plate of my sewing machine and then proceeded to attach the guide, with tape, to my machine.


My first project was simple. Two decorative couch pillows, that had a little dog on them. Something with just a nice easy quarter inch seam allowance to test out the guide. Before I was able to sew, I had to remove the seam guide in order to put in a bobbin that would match the top thread, then re-align the guide and continue to sew.

I started sewing and the first side went well enough, then came time to drop down my needle and pivot for the corner. The fabric went right underneath the plastic guide. Being more of an annoyance than a real problem, I moved the fabric out of the way and continued sewing.

As I went around the second side of the first pillow I noticed that the fabric was puckering a little bit. I examined my project a bit closer, and realized that the seam guide was making it so that the feed dogs were really only pulling the bottom fabric, causing the top to feed at a different rate. This was only minor, but I noticed it, and found it unacceptable. Because these pillows were just a fun craft and not really heirloom work, I figured it wasn’t the end of the world. In the end I removed the seam guide in the middle of the first pillow and continued sewing. I found that there was a noticeable difference in sewing quality with and without the guide. When I sewed with the guide, it seemed the seam guide itself created more pressure from the presser foot for the top layer of fabric waiting to be sewn. The extra pressure made it so the bottom fabric was moving faster than the top and so, in between my pins, I got the waves.

Pros:

  • It was a good idea, and meaning well counts in my book.

Cons:

  • Did not work well.
  • Caused puckering of sewn goods.
  • More stress than it’s worth, sewing is hard enough already. 
  • Would be better on a front-loading bobbin machine.

Have you ever been disappointed by a new sewing gadget? Tried any seam guides you DO like? Think I’m crazy, and just don’t know how to sew because you LOVE your seam guide, let me know below!

Disclosure

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8 Responses to Ultimate Seam Guide

  1. mub July 7, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    Best seam guide in my opinion? Masking tape- http://www.flickr.com/photos/94897571@N00/2700589427/in/set-72157606362191318

    I also have a magnetic one that I can stick to my machine that I like since it has a bit of an edge to bump the side of the fabric against but I don’t like using it for everything. I think it’s this one- http://www.amazon.com/Dritz-R-Seam-Guide-Magnetic/dp/B000YZ8N6Y

    Granted that’s completley unhelpful if you have a plastic machine. If that’s the case I’d say go with the masking tape!

  2. Kelly Sas July 7, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    I bought this at a sewing seminar that demoed it and said it was the greatest thing. I have ALL the same complaints and problems that you did. You also can’t use it if you don’t have a flat bed machine or table. Don’t waste your money.

  3. Sarah July 7, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    I have to wonder if this would be better made in really thin cling vinyl. Then you could just cut holes around the presser foot and slice along the seams for top-feeding bobbins, without adding any noticeable bulk.

  4. Erika Martin - Stampin' Mama July 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Thanks for the review. I had been looking at this since my machine has NO markings on it whatsoever, but won’t waste my money on it now. I appreciate you being so honest!

  5. Kathy July 7, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    I, too, appreciate the review. I have been looking for a good seam guide for my machine….this doesn’t look like it. Thanks for helping me save my money!

  6. funkycrafter July 7, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    i haven’t been very happy with any sewing guides i have tried. i think i will stick with pins and tape for the small amount of sewing i do.

  7. Lori July 7, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    I got all excited… and then read. :) Thanks for the review.
    I call and raise mub’s comment- masking tape is great, but I recommend the blue painter’s tape because it leaves no residue. (and it’s pretty.)

    My personal disappointing gadget? Iron transfer pencil. You have to push hard to get it to leave enough ‘lead’ to transfer, but it flakes when you push hard and makes a mess. And it says it’s ok to use regular paper, but it wouldn’t get hot enough to transfer the pattern. I’m going to try using onion skin (paper) next time. I had such high hopes and it just wasn’t what I expected.

  8. Annis Clapp April 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    I would be frustrated too if a product didn’t work to my expectations. As the designer of this seam guide I have a few suggestions. First I have noticed it may not be as slippery as it should be. To test yours, cut a 3″ square of fabric and slide it across the guide in a circular direction with light pressure from your fingers. If the fabric doesn’t slide easily, use a used dryer sheet and buff the surface until it does. I’ve been using the guide for over 8 years and discovered this when making a laminated version and actually used a car buffer on mine by clamping it to a hard surface. The dryer sheet is much easier to use. I was originally making it in several sizes to fit different machines, but C & T could only do one size.

    Cut the opening with a pair of small sharp pointed scissors, those with a very sharp tip.

    To reposition, place a strip of layered blue painter’s tape to the right side before removing from your machine to cut the opening. I use a Sewing Edge from Alicia’s Attic. You can also place the cutout piece under the needle and place the guide around it.

    Use Scrapbooking Tape to tape it to the surface. It doesn’t leave a sticky residue. Be sure to tape the back edges behind the feed dogs. A small strip of Poster Tape might work on the sides of the opening. I haven’t tried this, but haven’t had a problem with fabric sliding under it.

    I use mine with a slide-on table most of the time and a machine that has dual feed and a front loading bobbin. When using with a top loading bobbin, I always start with a full bobbin and only have to loosen the tape from the front and sides to replace the bobbin so the seam guide falls back in position.

    The reason it can’t be made with the thin cling vinyl is it was designed to be used with adhesive guide bars for strip-piecing double widths of fabric by sewing down the middle instead of the sides. Removing the guide bars would pull the vinyl away from the surface.

    I don’t know why your fabric isn’t feeding evenly unless it’s because the guide isn’t slippery enough. I’ve never had this problem, but then I use a machine with dual feed for most of my sewing and I cover the area in front of the needle plate, even on machines with curved surfaces, so the fabric feeds smoothly without any bumps, and seldom have an underneath seam pushed in the wrong direction. I realize that would keep you from easily opening your accessories box. I keep the tools I need in a different location.

    Hope this helps.

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