The very nice people at Groves sent me one of the Clover Stitch Guides so that I could review it, and not to spoil the ending, but I liked it so much, I ordered a few for the shop!
The principle behind the guide is simple, there are 2 interlocking parts that can be used either together or separately on your sewing machine bed to create a guide for your fabric as you sew.
There is also a small gridded square with needle holes at commonly used seam allowance distances from the edge. To set up your stitch guide, firstly place the grid under your needle, then stick the guide to the bed of your machine aligned with the edge of the grid in your chosen configuration.
The configuration below is for when you have a long seam to sew, as it will keep things in line both in front and to the back of the needle. Often when you’re using a fairly short marked line on the machine bed or the edge of your sewing machine foot as the guide for your seam allowance and then try and sew a long seam fairly quickly, you’ll get slight wobbles along the length of it as it’s difficult to steer perfectly straight using just your hands when sewing at speed and you tend to drift off and have to recover.
There are two options when sewing curves, the first, for convex curves, is shown below. The other option, for concave curves, uses the other side of the guide with the rounded side at the front of the machine which allows the seam to move nicely around the guide without distorting it (sorry I didn’t have one of them to demo!)
The next configuration is for use when top stitching. Because you generally top stitch around 1/8″ or 2-3 mm from the edge of your fabric, it can be difficult to get a normal seam guide to line up with the edge of the fabric without interfering with your sewing machine foot. The Clover guide basically has a cut out section that fits around the front of the foot to hold things at your chosen distance. Because it was a long seam, I locked the 2 pieces together, but it’s not essential. You can also switch the whole thing around to top stitch from the other side if you wish.
This final configuration is probably my most favourite – using the 2 pieces of the guide on either side of a strap to keep the top stitching straight and even. You can see that in this setup I’m using the cut out on the guide to allow the top stitching to be close to the edge of the strap, and by having the 2 guide pieces aligned it keeps things nice and stable as I work my way around. For this setup I aligned the right hand guide piece first, then popped the strap in place and put my needle down to keep it in place, then I stuck the second piece of the guide down.
In conclusion, I think this guide is perfect for my bag making, and would also be useful for things like clothes, home furnishings, soft toys etc.
I probably won’t use it for quilt piecing because I found it quite difficult to get a super precise small seam allowance measurement with it, and I definitely won’t be using it with any of my vintage machines because it uses a sticky tape like adhesive (which can be refreshed) and I would be worried about it removing the clearcoat which protects the paint.
If you want to try one yourself, I have a limited supply in the shop here.