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Thread: 1/4 inch seams

  1. #1
    Super Member Sweeterthanwine's Avatar
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    1/4 inch seams

    This has probably been asked and answered before but if it was, I didn't see it. So here goes: When did the 1/4" seam rule apply to quilts. Seems to me that when my Mom hand pieced quilts many, many years ago, she never mentioned using a consitent 1/4" seam. Her quilts always turned out as far as I know. I have many of her old quilts and they look fine but it is hard to tell the size of the seam. I don't think that the women of yesteryear where as precise as the modern women is today. I realize that the patterns are more consise now and that if not followed precisely, the quilt will not be the same size as the pattern calls for. Any thoughts from anyone? Just curious.

  2. #2
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    Any seem size will work if you are consistent. Of course borders, sashings, etc will have to be adjusted.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    I still have to use 1/4" seam (but don't tell the quilt police). I do not use patterns and I use the edge of my regular foot for consistency.

  4. #4
    MTS
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweeterthanwine View Post
    Seems to me that when my Mom hand pieced quilts many, many years ago, she never mentioned using a consitent 1/4" seam.
    My guess -

    I'm sure back then she used templates.
    THe templates were sans seam allowances.
    She traced the outline on fabric for EACH piece.
    The drawn line provided the sewing line, so having a consistent seam allowance was unnecessary.

    With rotary cutting and machine piecing, there has to be a common measurement.

    And a lot of those newer techniques for machine piecing were backwards compatible, and have been adapted to hand piecing.

  5. #5
    Super Member QuiltnLady1's Avatar
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    I read somewhere that the 1/4" seam allowance was set as a standard by hand quilters because it was too hard to hand quilt through larger seam allowances. When machine piecing and quilting started a few folks tried to get larger seams but no dice. I have several older quilting books that I read cover to cover when I started to quilt again in 2000 and the author of one was quite upset because she felt the larger seam allowance was more stable.

    In the early 2000, there was a great deal written (I even saw several folks on tv talking about this) about your personal measurement -- meaning as long as you were consistent in your measurement and you did not stress if all your blocks were a different size than the patter then all was well.
    QuiltnLady1

    When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTS View Post
    My guess -

    I'm sure back then she used templates.
    THe templates were sans seam allowances.
    She traced the outline on fabric for EACH piece.
    The drawn line provided the sewing line, so having a consistent seam allowance was unnecessary.

    With rotary cutting and machine piecing, there has to be a common measurement.

    And a lot of those newer techniques for machine piecing were backwards compatible, and have been adapted to hand piecing.
    What I was going to say - - -

  7. #7
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    I don't know when it became the norm but I've seen many antique quilts with 1/4 inch seams. I think that when quilting started, fabric was so precious that they sewed with the smallest seams they could to maximize their resources. That is just my opinion of course and I don't see how you can pinpoint when it became accepted.

  8. #8
    Member Bicycle Hobo's Avatar
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    I tend to agree with Tartan. In the past, fabric was precious and very expensive. So a thrifty housewife did her best in maximizing her stash. It is tradition. Now with fabric so cheap (compared to then), plus modern washing machines widespread usage, I do use a larger seam (1 cm or 1/2 inch) depending on the measurement system I choose to sew with.

  9. #9
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    I agree with MTS and berisgray. this is how i learned to quilt.
    Nancy in western NY

  10. #10
    Super Member Sweeterthanwine's Avatar
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    Thanks ladies for your thoughts. I now am not afraid to use a larger seam allowance on some of my quilts, but no bigger than 1/2".

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