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Is This The Future Of Sewing? Watch The Laser Guide In Action!

The world of sewing has undergone a remarkable transformation, evolving from the treadle machines of the past to the highly sophisticated computerized models of today. Among the latest innovations is laser technology. I have this laser guide on my Brother Luminaire, and for the longest time, it sat there, a feature I’d heard about but never really used. Why don’t I use it? That question nagged at me, so I decided to give it a fair shot and put it through its paces.

All About Sewing with Laser Guides FB

What Is Laser Technology?

Laser technology in sewing machines refers to the use of a laser beam to enhance various sewing tasks, such as guiding stitches, precisely placing decorative elements and aligning fabrics. This technology projects a visible straight line directly onto the fabric, which acts as a guide for sewing.

Sewists are supposed to follow the laser line to maintain straight seams, ensure even seam allowances, and align decorative stitching perfectly without the need for marking the fabric with pens or chalk. It’s not always easy to follow a straight line when sewing and I have written about this before (Seam Guide Tutorial: how to sew a straight line and keep seam allowances equal, How to sew straight – top sewing tips)

They also say that laser technology allows for greater speed. Traditional methods of fabric alignment, such as drawing lines or placing physical guides, can be time-consuming. With a laser guide, you can immediately start sewing along the projected path, which streamlines the process and saves time.

So, I decided to get the most out of the laser features, familiarize myself with the machine’s laser settings, and practice using the laser for my projects. I invested time and effort, determined to understand the ins and outs of this much-touted feature.

Despite my best attempts to embrace this technology, I came to a conclusion that I don’t really like this feature. What’s all the hype about it? In this article, I will show you the reasons why the laser guide fell short of my expectations.

Attention! If you’re someone who likes to see things in action, you might enjoy the video version of this tutorial on my YouTube channel. You’ll find the link at the bottom of this post. Watching the video along with reading this article can help you get a fuller picture, so I definitely recommend checking out both!

Laser Settings On My Brother Luminaire

The laser guide, in theory, is fantastic. It promises precision with its ability to project lines directly onto the fabric, which you can follow while sewing. It even lets you change colors and distances, offering a level of customization that seems like a dream for any serious sewing enthusiast.

The laser settings on my Brother Luminaire are quite robust, and they seem to promise a world of precision and customization for any sewing project. 

✅Related tutorial: Brother Luminaire Tutorial: How To Applique With An Embroidery Machine

When I select a stitch on the machine, there’s a button with a laser icon. Pressing this button brings to life the feature that’s been the talk of the sewing community. 

laser settings on my Brother Luminaire

A pop-up window appears, and suddenly, two lines are projected onto the fabric.

laser lines red and green

These lines can be toggled between red, white, and green colors. The choice of color is important for visibility against different fabric patterns and textures. You can also adjust the length of these lines, with options like L for long, M for medium, and S for short.

The distance between the lines is another adjustable parameter, allowing you to set it at common sewing measurements like 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch, 5/8 inch, and so on. This feature is designed to cater to various seam allowances and placement guides without the need for physical measuring tools.

Beyond just lines, the machine offers a grid option for broader work that requires multiple alignment points.

machine offers a grid option for broader work

And for projects that need diagonal alignment, there’s the angle lines feature, which is supposed to be useful for tasks like quilting or creating bias binding. But I couldn’t figure it out yet.

angle lines feature

Sounds great, right? All these features at your fingertips, seemingly ready to elevate your sewing to the next level.  All these features should eliminate the need for marking the fabric. But now comes the real test: trying to use it.

Using Laser Guide To Sew Straight And Keep Even Seam Allowances

Using the laser guide on a sewing machine is supposed to significantly improve the accuracy of sewing straight lines, topstitching, and keeping perfect seam allowances.

Here’s how I tried to use this innovative feature to sew a perfect seam with the assistance of the machine’s laser guide. 

I selected the laser guide feature by choosing the icon on my machine’s display. The laser guide projected 2 straight lines onto the fabric. Brother Luminaire sewing machine allows me to change the laser color, providing a clear visual guide for my stitching line (red) and the edge of my fabric (green).

I used the plus and minus icons to move the lines until the red laser aligns with the needle (where the stitching will occur) and the green laser marks the fabric edge.

As I sew, I need to keep the green laser aligned with the edge of my fabric, ensuring a consistent seam allowance. I should focus on the fabric edge while the machine takes care of the stitching alignment. 

But there’s a catch – I can’t really see the green line on the edge of my fabric. 

red laser aligns with the needle and the green laser marks the fabric edge

I adjust my fabric, squint my eyes, and lean in, but the moment the fabric moves a mere millimeter, that green line vanishes. I’m half-convinced it’s taunting me, playing a game of hide and seek on the machine’s throat plate.

red laser aligns with the needle and the green laser marks the fabric edge

And as I sew, trying to keep everything aligned, the green line wiggles and jiggles, moving left and right with a mind of its own. I persist, I adjust, and just when I think I’ve got the hang of it, poof! The line disappears from my view  on the throat plate again, leaving me to wonder if it was ever there at all.

To make it clear: the line is not really disappearing, it is just very difficult to see the laser line on the edge of the moving fabric or on the machine’s throat plate. 

With a flick of a setting, I decided to change the laser from green to red, hoping for a clearer guide. Indeed, I can see it better. But the red line proved to be just as uncooperative as its green predecessor.

I decided to change the laser from green to red

After spending more time with the laser guide on my sewing machine, I’m beginning to get the hang of it. 

Here’s the result of my test, and as you can see, the stitches are indeed straight and the seam allowances are equal.

stitches are indeed straight and the seam allowances are equal

The laser guide does work, but it’s not without its challenges. The main issue I face is visibility and control at the edge of the fabric. Despite the laser’s guidance, keeping the fabric aligned with the beam requires a level of concentration that’s a bit more intense than I anticipated.

Even so, I’m learning to trust the laser more, to let it lead while I focus on guiding the fabric through with a steady hand.

I also discovered that I can actually move the position of the laser lines on the throat plate. So, I nudged it forward a bit. Now, I have half an inch of the laser line shining on the white arm of the machine.

I can move the position of the laser lines on the throat plate
I can move the position of the laser lines on the throat plate

Now I can clearly see a part of the laser, and it’s easier to maintain alignment. 

Alright, so the laser guide has proven its worth for straight lines, but the true test of its versatility came when I faced the curved seams. Can the laser help maintain even seam allowances on the curves? To my surprise, yes, it can – with a bit of a tweak.

trying laser guide on curved seams

I found that by shortening the laser’s length to a medium or even short setting, I could manage the curves more effectively. The medium setting seemed to strike the right balance, providing just enough visibility without overwhelming the fabric’s curved edge. It’s not the easiest task, mind you. Keeping the laser aligned with the ever-changing edge of a curve requires a gentle hand and a keen eye. The fabric seems to have a mind of its own, wanting to wander off the laser’s path.

even seam allowances using laser guide

But with patience and practice, it’s manageable. And as you can see, the result is not bad. The seam allowances are even. 

Mastering Decorative Stitches With The Laser Guide

They say that using the laser guide on a Brother Luminaire sewing machine can be particularly helpful when sewing decorative stitches. It’s supposed to ensure your embellishments are precisely placed and aligned. Ok, let’s try this. 

✅ Related tutorial: A Guide to Different Types of Sewing Machine Stitches

So, I have chosen a decorative stitch from the machine’s wide selection and turned on the laser guide. I even marked the straight line on the fabric where I wanted my decorative stitches to be placed.

The process seemed straightforward enough: align the laser line with a marked line on the fabric, and let the stitches fall into place. But the reality was different. As the needle danced back and forth, creating the complex patterns of the decorative stitches, the fabric seemed to have a mind of its own, shifting ever so slightly out of alignment.

fabric shifting out of alignment

There I was, guiding the fabric with a steady hand, but the laser line was again like a slippery eel. The needle’s movement would create a small but significant shift, throwing everything off balance.

I couldn’t keep the laser line aligned with the marked line.

marking pen and ruler are more reliable in keeping decorative stitches

So, the marking pen and ruler are decidedly less high-tech but far more reliable in keeping decorative stitches where they should be.

Precision Piecing: Sewing Strips Together With A Laser Guide

Sewing strips together on a 45-degree angle is a common technique used in quilting to create binding or to join strips end-to-end without adding bulk. The Brother sewing machine’s laser guide is lauded as the perfect aid for such tasks, promising precision and ease. So, with a mix of hope and skepticism (acquired in my previous attempts to use the laser), I decided to put this feature to the test.

I prepared my fabric strips, laying the ends across each other, right sides together, to form that textbook “L” shape, with the ends overlapping to create a neat square at the intersection. This is where the laser guide is supposed to shine – quite literally.

I prepared fabric strips that form textbook L shape

Activating the laser, I watched as it cast a beam from the top left corner to the bottom right corner of the overlapped square. I positioned the fabric under the presser foot, aligning the laser line to bisect the square at the perfect angle. This should be simple, right? 

But then came the snag – the starting corner was fully hidden beneath the top strip, out of sight. So I had to mark the corner before I could properly insert the needle and start sewing. But then, I had to make the opposite corner too to align the laser line correctly with it.

I manually marked the corner with pen

With the presser foot down, I began my journey along the laser line, from one marked corner to the other. The laser was my guide.

started sewing one marked corner

So I did everything right, it seems. I marked the corners, positioned the fabric, and let the laser guide lead the way. The result? The strips ended up slightly askew. It wasn’t the fault of the laser – it was my hands that didn’t quite do the right thing.

strips ended up slightly askew after using the laser guide

But does it matter where the blame lies? The bottom line is, I can’t use the laser guide for this. It’s supposed to be a tool that enhances precision, but if my own hands can’t follow its path accurately, then the tool loses its utility. 

There’s the issue of keeping on track. You’d think it would be simple to follow a straight line, but the slightest shift in fabric or a momentary lapse in concentration, and you’re off course. 

I also found that the laser guide demands a level of setup and adjustment that feels… elaborate. Yes, you can change colors, adjust the distance, and do all sorts of fancy things with it, but all that tweaking takes time. Time I’d rather spend actually sewing. 

So, after my test run, my conclusion is this: the laser guide on my Brother Luminaire is elaborate, yes, but perhaps too much so for its own good. For now, I prefer my old methods. They might not be as high-tech, but they get the job done without the fuss.

In the end, the laser guide is just that – a guide. It can’t adjust for the subtle movements of the fabric or the steadiness of my grip. So, while the laser guide might work wonders for others, for me, it’s back to the basics. I’ll rely on the old-school methods. After all, it’s the final seam that counts, not how you get there.

In conclusion: The laser guide is not as easy as it sounds. Seam guides work better for me.

So here is my YouTube video. Check this out if you like to see a helpful video on how to laser guides on modern sewing machines (instead of reading).

Did you find this guide on a laser guide on sewing machine useful? If yes, why not save this pin to your Pinterest board? That way, you can easily return to the article whenever you need a refresher on this topic. And for an ongoing stream of handy tips, tutorials, and all sorts of creative inspiration, make sure to follow me on Pinterest.

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