I’ve got a new notion in the studio just in time for Me-Made May and it’s here to help me stitch perfect seam allowances!
As you know, I’ve been bitten by the garment sewing bug ever since I made my first Quilted Coat. It set me off on a new inquisitive journey about the freedom and joy to be had in making your own clothes.
Along the way, I’ve discovered that certain notions come in handy to help you level up your garment sewing and quilting game. One of those super helpful notions is a magnetic seam gauge.
I know, it almost feels like cheating it’s so basic. But basic doesn’t mean non-essential, in fact, I’d argue that sometimes the most basic sewing notions are the ones you absolutely need in your sewing kit.
Today I’m sharing with you the pros and cons of stitching with a magnetic seam gauge.
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What is a magnetic seam gauge?
A magnetic seam gauge is essentially a big magnet that you snap onto your sewing plate at the exact seam width you’d like your seam to stitch at.
How does it work?
It couldn’t be easier to use.
Say you want to stitch a ½” seam allowance, you’d place the magnetic seam gauge at the ½” mark on your sewing plate and use the straight edge to keep a consistent ½” seam allowance.
It’s pretty nifty!
Why did I pick one up?
If you’re coming to garment sewing after quilting first, then it might take a minute to adjust to the much larger seam allowance used when sewing clothes. It’s a significant jump to go from a scant ¼” to 5/8”; it feels like a mammoth difference, and it took me a minute to get used to stitching such a wide seam allowance.
While piecing my quilted coats, I felt like having a guide to help me nail a consistent 5/8” seam allowance would be helpful. Especially when inserting sleeves, it just felt like it would be a handy notion to help keep everything on the straight and narrow 😊
So, after years of thinking about getting one, I finally bit the bullet and ordered this magnetic seam guide earlier this year.
I’m kinda kicking myself that I waited so long! It definitely works as advertised.
Pros of working with a magnetic seam gauge
I’ve been working with the magnetic seam gauge for a little over a month or so now and thought I’d round up some of the pros that I’ve noted stitching with one:
- Super easy to use!
- It helps me stitch perfect seam allowances without having to overthink or keep eagle eyes on my seam.
- It’s small enough that it doesn’t take much storage room when not in use.
Cons of working with a magnetic seam gauge
Most notions have some downsides to them, but I’m happy to report the cons are limited to:
- You can’t use it for stitching seams that aren’t on the edge of your fabric (e.g., making half-square triangles 8-at-a-time).
- You can’t use it for quilting lines.
Why you should have one too!
If you struggle with keeping a consistent seam allowance then a magnetic seam gauge will be super helpful! It really shines best when you’re working on a project that switches up the seam allowance, such as when you’re making a quilted coat. There’re quite a few different seam allowances used in that project and a magnetic seam gauge can help you stay on track.
What’s the difference between a magnetic seam gauge and a ¼” foot
One of the reasons I purchased my Juki sewing machine (read my review here) was because I was eager to get my hands on the ¼” foot. Turns out, that foot was way too generous and all of my patchwork ended up shrinking in size – ha! I no longer work with that foot as it was a little misleading.
The magnetic seam gauge avoids that issue as you’re the one who places it to get the exact seam width you need. Plus, a magnetic seam gauge is way more flexible than the ¼” foot as it allows you to work with any seam width you need (instead of just the ¼” width).
You know how selective I am about bringing in new notions to the studio and I’m super happy I took the plunge and brought this little cutie in as it’s helped me stitch perfect seam allowances!
Now I’m curious, do you stitch with a magnetic seam gauge too?
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