Sewing Machine Laser

Monday, March 27, 2017

Have you seen the new and fancy sewing machines that come with a built-in laser beam? You can use the laser to line up what you're sewing before it gets to the needle. It's extremely helpful for quilting straight lines or sewing half-square triangles without drawing the lines. But what to do if you don't have a new and fancy sewing machine??


Adding a laser to a Juki sewing machine


First, let's be honest. Every single time I say or type the word laser, I feel the need to hold my pinky finger to the side of my mouth and say "laser" in my worst Dr. Evil from Austin Powers impression. Surely you do the same? No?? Moving on then...

I have wanted to add an after-market laser to my vintage Bernina 930 Record for some time now. I had searched for one that might work, but never had any luck. Then I saw a tip from @downgrapevinelane on Instagram about one that was working for her! In the mean time, I switched to using my new-to-me Juki TL-2010Q sewing machine. It was the perfect time to do some experimenting!


How to add a laser to your sewing machine

I ordered the laser on Amazon for around $15, but it is also available from Harbor Freight (for about half the price!). @downgrapevinelane purchased hers on Ebay.

Adding a laser to a Juki sewing machine

The laser is made by Central Machinery. The head of the laser rotates, and the connection between the body of the laser and the mount allows it to move up and down. It works using three small batteries (included in the package). The class 2 laser emits a thin, straight, red beam. It comes with three options for mounting: small screws, magnets, and a sticky pad. (Note: As with any laser, do not look into the laser itself directly. If you have small children, make sure they can not get hold of it. It is perfectly safe to view the light that hits the sewing machine surface.) (Second note: If you have a computerized sewing machine, it may be wise to pop the magnets out that come on the back of the laser. Some magnets can interfere with the computer components. Better to be safe than sorry! You should be able to pop them out with a small screwdriver.)

I took it out of the package eager to start sewing. Then, to my surprise, discovered that the metal on the outside of my Juki is not magnetic! I wanted the laser to be easily removable, so the screws and sticky pad that came with it were not an option. I decided the best option here was a removable Command strip. (Edited to add: I am going to upgrade to one of the Command strips with Velcro so I can reposition the laser more easily.)

Adding a laser to a Juki sewing machineAdding a laser to a Juki sewing machine

I positioned the laser to be out of the way of the thread and all moving parts of the sewing machine, being sure that the laser beam was still a straight line in front of the needle. Even at an angle, the laser beam is still straight and crisp. I also positioned the laser off the side of the Command strip in order to get the beam to line up properly since that place on my machine has a bit of an angle to it. It took a bit of trial and error, but I got it!

Adding a laser to a Juki sewing machine

Next up was a sewing test! For the project I was sewing, I needed to stitch a diagonal line from corner to corner. Usually, I would use a ruler and draw a line on the wrong side of every square. However, using the laser, I didn't have to draw any lines!

Adding a laser to a Juki sewing machineAdding a laser to a Juki sewing machine

As the sewing machine feeds the fabric, be sure that the corner of the square stays in line with the laser beam the entire time.

Adding a laser to a Juki sewing machineAdding a laser to a Juki sewing machine

It's so much faster than drawing lines, and much more accurate than just eyeballing a straight line!

Adding a laser to a Juki sewing machine
Adding a laser to a Juki sewing machine

The laser also works for sewing half-square triangles two at a time. Just adjust the laser so the beam is 1/4" to the left or right of the needle. Then keep the corners of the square in line with the laser beam as the fabric feeds. Flip the square around and sew a second line the same way, then cut down the middle as usual. Perfect HSTs without the added step of drawing the lines!

I am very excited for this new and fancy feature on my sewing machine! With two young boys in the house, every minute of sewing time is precious. I love finding ways to use those precious minutes more efficiently!



Linking up to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday at Late Night Quilter.


This post contains affiliate links.

45 comments:

  1. Ooh, the fancy laser light! I only started noticing them lately, and I really want one, but of course, they only come on those fancy machines. Thanks for sharing such a great economical light! I may have to check it out. I need all the piecing help I can get!

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  2. Love these. Gonna check this out and see if I can find one before my quilt weekend where I am doing a bunch of half sqaure triangles!

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  3. Thank you so much! I love my machines but wanted this laser option, but not willing to trade in just for that....thank you Thank you!!!!

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  4. Genius!! I too have a Juki 2010 and would love to save some time when piecing HST's. Thank you for the pics and info on where to purchase one! I think I see a visit to Harbor Freight in my near future!!

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  5. What a great addition to your sewing kit! Thanks for sharing the details on the laser and how you made it work. Command strips are so handy. :)

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  6. Awesome, stopping by Harbor Freight on my way home tonight!

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  7. Very cool idea. I've noticed more people talking about the laser on their sewing machine lately.

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  8. That is amazing, Laura! No more drawing hundreds of lines on squares!

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  9. oh wow, that is genius! I jumped straight on Amazon and... you can't get them in the UK :0(

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  10. ooooooOOOO!!! Wow, thanks for sharing! I'll be looking for one of these. Do you have to watch it for jiggling out of position as you work? (and I'm totally laughing at the Austin Powers image)

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    Replies
    1. With the Command strips, it stays put very well!

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  11. This is so cool! And how great would it be for straight line quilting too? Thanks for sharing!

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  12. This is awesome! I've seen this as a tip, but haven't tried it myself. Thanks for the thorough review!

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  13. Thanks for this tutorial! I have the same light, and I had all the same attachment issues that you did. (Different machine tho) and I never thought of the Command Strips. You are a genius. Didn't know they make those strips with Velcro either. Must check that out. :)

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  14. But this feature not only helps those with poor eyesight, it also is great for many types of hand issues. Very Cozy Home

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  15. Can you use the laser on the computerized machine? I was told you can't use anything magnetic around it.

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely! Just use the Command strip to attach it instead of the magnets!

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  16. Afton teaching a class that involved making HSTs, and having a student school me about why she didn't need to draw guide lines since she had a very upscale machine with a laser, I began to wonder if I could add one. I hadn't found anything that would work...until now. I was able to find this laser for $5.99 at Harbor Freight, and added it to my machine without incident with the Velcro Command strips. I'm so excited about my machine "update", because, after all, everything is better with chocolate or a laser.

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  17. I struggle with accurate seam allowances when using my serger - do you think this would work on a serger? Love the idea, thank you for sharing!

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    1. I'm always willing to try! As long as you mount the laser away from the thread and moving parts, you should be able to get it to work!

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  18. Thanks for the posting and the problem solution. I had purchased one, but then could not attach it for the reasons you stated and was very disappointed. Now I will be able to use it!

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  19. You have just changed my life!!! LOVE this! Running to Harbor Freight now!

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  20. How and where do I get one of those laser lights for my Juki sewing machine. Please let me know.

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  21. Just ordered mine through Harbor Freight and was able to use a 20% off coupon code (31232842). I believe the code is good through the end of the month.

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  22. Have you used the laser to make half square triangles two at a time? (Sewing on both sides of the line from corner to corner.)

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  23. Thank you so much!! I had the idea to try this but, I couldn't find a laser that would stay on without having to hold down the button the entire time or a way to mount it. I am heading to Harbor Freight!

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  24. Your light is not pointing straight down in front of your needle, so how does this work? From the pictures, at that angle, the light would not follow out from your needle. Can you explain in more detail? Thanks

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  25. My lovely new machine, Pfaff 3.0 bought from a closing down quilt shop for less than half price comes with amazing lighting. No further lighting needed, hoorah!!!!

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  26. Has anyone used this to center machine embroidery designs?

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  27. Thanks for the tip. Going to try on my sewing and serger due to poor sight and it worsening at night

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  28. I bought one sometime ago but couldn't figure out how to make it work, thanks for the illustration and advice, I'm on it!

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  29. Can't comprehend how the red line "turns" when it gets to the needle.
    But it must work! Need to scrounge my hubs toolbox, he had a laser light when trying to
    Hang picture to keep them straight.
    Do I dare sneak into his " tool dungeon ?"

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  30. I found your blog very helpful and interesting,
    thanks for sharing this info with us.
    cheapest sewing machines online

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  31. Have you used it line up your fabric to get the scant 1/4" seam? I really like this ideas. I wonder how I could make work to find the center of the inside an embroidery hoop. Thanks for sharing.

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  32. thank you thank you for trying this out and publishing the results! Brilliant!

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  33. Happened upon your post on pinterest. I must say I can't wait to try it. I went to Harbor Freight today and it only cost me $90.00 oh, I took my husband...my mistake. The laser was $5.99 or something like that. Thanks for the info.

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  34. I searched amazon but came up empty

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    Replies
    1. I link to the laser that I purchased on Amazon in the post. Here is a direct link as well. http://amzn.to/2vjyogi

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  35. I also am having trouble getting this lined up. Don't understand how you can get a straight line when the laser is at an angle.

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  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  37. Brilliant information, right on time. Tried Freight Harbor today but had none. Lucky I found your post today. When I do get my hands on one, I will know just what to do!!! Thanks so, so much.

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  38. Thank you for your article for the laser. I am, however, trying to figure out how the laser points downward and then bends to show a sewing line. What am I missing?

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    1. The laser is a line laser, not a point laser. This type of laser projects a wedge of light like sunlight shining through a door that's ajar. It is not the same type of laser that just projects a dot of light. This laser is made specifically for projecting a line.

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