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Thread: ugh! Can't seem to get 1/4" seams right!

  1. #11
    Senior Member
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    i do the index card thing, except i bought a package of cards(50 or 100?) that actually have 1/4" grids on them. i don't stitch a single seam until i make sure the needle is lined up. works great!

  2. #12
    Junior Member nantucketsue's Avatar
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    This is an interesting topic and I am enjoying reading the posts. However, I think some of the ladies are being too hard on themselves. I have a Janome 1/4" foot. I have found that having made several blocks or squares finishing exactly the right size, for no apparent reason, using the same measuring, cutting, sewing and careful pressing, of a different combination of fabrics, blocks will end up anything 1/4" to 1/2" short of what it should be. I am conviinced this is due to a variation in the thickness of some fabrics, so that even the most accurate 1/4" seam will reduce the size of the finished block. I usually have fabrics from different manufacturers and always pre-wash and sometimes the difference in texture is quite noticeable. Does anyone else have an opinion on this?

  3. #13
    Super Member Rose Marie's Avatar
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    I agree. My blocks always come out 1/4 inch to small even when I measure each section and size them perfectly. It is just me.
    It dosnt matter if they dont come out the right size as long as all your blocks turn out the same and adjust your sashing.
    The only time it is a problem is when I share blocks with by group for a particular size block. Then I have to make sure I have a scant 1/4 inch by adjusting the needle.

  4. #14
    Junior Member GMarie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nantucketsue
    This is an interesting topic and I am enjoying reading the posts. However, I think some of the ladies are being too hard on themselves. I have a Janome 1/4" foot. I have found that having made several blocks or squares finishing exactly the right size, for no apparent reason, using the same measuring, cutting, sewing and careful pressing, of a different combination of fabrics, blocks will end up anything 1/4" to 1/2" short of what it should be. I am conviinced this is due to a variation in the thickness of some fabrics, so that even the most accurate 1/4" seam will reduce the size of the finished block. I usually have fabrics from different manufacturers and always pre-wash and sometimes the difference in texture is quite noticeable. Does anyone else have an opinion on this?
    Thanks for this reply. I think you're right that it can be a combination of things. I have a lot of good suggestions to try to work with too!

  5. #15
    Junior Member GMarie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thimblebug6000
    I have a Husqvarna Lily 540, nothing fancy, but it has a " setting, but if I sew like that by the time the thread etc. is taken into consideration, my measurements are out. I always click my needle over just the one notch & my blocks come out to the exact measurement (of course that's if I manage to sew a straight seam.....) I do have the " foot, but find it doesn't work well for me. If you piece with a fine thread 50 or 60 weight, your measurements may work out better, if you use a heavier weight 40 or 30 you'll find the thread takes up quite a bit of room, by the time you've pieced a whole block.
    Thanks! I hadn't thought about thread weight. Another great suggestion to try!

  6. #16
    Super Member JoanneS's Avatar
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    I'm so glad to hear about the index cards having 1/4 inch lines - never thought about it. They'll make it even easier to draw lines on my machine.

    I use a permanent marker right on my sewing machine - an extra fine Sharpie - to mark BOTH the center line straight out from the needle and 1/4 inch lines both right and left of the center line - right down to the front edge of the machine. Don't panic, it wears off, or you can wipe it off with 409 or a baby wipe, if that sort of thing bothers you. If it REALLY bothers you, put masking tape on the machine and draw the lines on that.

    The center line helps you line up sewing corner to corner miters, and triangles. If you need to sew a SCANT 1/4 inch, just sew a scant bit away from the line.

    I mark BOTH right and left, because when you sew strips and then more strips or when you're using the fusible grid system for a watercolor quilt, you'll eventually have to sew on the LEFT side, and moving your needle to the left 4 or 6 'clicks' isn't always exactly the same as moving it 4 or 6 'clicks' to the right. I was very frustrated until I actually measure this on my beloved Pfaff's open toe foot (albeit, an old one). Maybe the new one I just bought will be better - haven't measured it yet, but I will!

    I hope this isn't confusing. You don't have to move the needle if you use the drawn lines on the machine.

  7. #17
    Super Member wraez's Avatar
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    Yes I agree it is hard to get that 1/4" accurate even after measuring, remeasuring, cutting, sewing and poof it is short.

    I think it is because when we press ever so carefully it still takes up some 'thread space' and shortens our qtr inch.

    A friend told me her trick....yes use your qtr inch foot that has the guide (better than trying to eyeball it and the fabric shifts while sewing) but if you are able to move your needle right of center, do that, to get your scant qtr inch. I have a Janome that has a default of 3.5 at center, I click it to the right to 4.5.

    Be careful when pressing so that seams are flat and don't have a tiny fold, the fold takes up more of your fabric.

    When you square up, you will most likely just have a smidge to trim on all 4 sides. Sometimes mine actually come out perfect, depends on the quality of fabric and how much give you get when pressing.

    don't know if this will be helpful for you, but it does work for me.

    Good luck and happy quilting


  8. #18
    Super Member ania755's Avatar
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    Thanks to all of you :-)
    Great topic, great advices.....

  9. #19
    Super Member jbsstrawberry's Avatar
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    GMarie, if your brother is like mine on the straight stitch foot there is a teeny tiny line just right of the opening where the needle works through the fabric. It lines up just to the right of the 1/4 mark etched into the machine by a couple of threads. That is exactly a 1/4 inch when my needle is all the way to the left. When I first got my machine in December, I always put the needle in the center postition, out of habit (my old machine didn't have the left/right function). Putting the needle in the middle was my problem, thats where i put it to quilt, stitch in the ditch etc, but to sew my seems (even the 5/8" seems on clothing) that puppy has to be all the way to the left! I read through the manual and read through the manual after I figured that out, and never did I see it printed in there! I think it would have been kind of them to let us know up front huh? LOL

  10. #20

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    I checked out that link and love the idea of building up a fence. I did notice that as I was piceing things together that my lines didn't always line up--it's gonna take a lot of practice to find and keep everything in that "sweet spot"

    I was about half way through my quilt top when I thought I'd try out the paper piecing (for fun!) I quickly found out that what I THOUGHT was a 1/4-inch seam wasn't even close! Of course, my patterns basic and all my seams are the same, so who cares?

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