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Thread: 1/4 inch seam HELP

  1. #1
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    1/4 inch seam HELP

    Ok, I'm TRYING to sew 1 3/4" strips to start an Amish Twist quilt. For some reason, I can't sew a 1/4" seam. I have a fairly new Singer sewing machine. I bought the quarter inch foot for it, for some reason, I continuously sew over 1/4". This happens all the time. I have to constantly measure to make sure it is 1/4" Any hints? Is it all me? Crooked eye? It is very frustrating.

  2. #2
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    Are saying that despite the fabric being placed properly against the 1/4" guide, and sewing straight - that when you measure after ironing the strip is smaller (ie larger seam allowance) than it should be?

    If this is the case then you are NOT alone. I've yet to discover a 1/4" guide that is a true 1/4" after ironing. What I do is move my needle position over to the right just a tad. I start by cutting two identically sized scrap strips (say 2" wide), move my needle position to the right a smidge, sew, iron the seam, then measure and the two strips together should now measure 3.5". If not, I run another test and keep doing so until I know where my needle position should be. I keep a post-it-note on my machine with the correct needle position.

    If you are saying that you are having difficulty with the fabric pulling to the left in the machine while sewing (the fabric is against the 1/4" guide but is being pulled to the left so by the time the needle hits it, the seam is off) then your feed dogs may be feeding unevenly which could be caused by lint trapped in, on, or under the feed dogs. A good cleaning is in order.
    May your stitches always be straight, your seams always lie flat, and your grain never be biased against you.

    Sue

  3. #3
    Senior Member Alex J's Avatar
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    I placed a long color strip ( a piece from a sticky note) on the plate of machine. I measured from the needle to the 1/4 in. so the sticky note edge is my 1/4 in. So the fabric cannot pass the edge, I also go slow when I am sewing, that helps keep control so I don't go to far off the 1/4in.

  4. #4
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    To find out if your 1/4 inch foot is a true 1/4 inch the lines on an index card are exactly 1/4 inch. Sew on one line and follow the next line over at the edge of your foot. This will tell you if you need to move your needle over and if your foot is correct.

  5. #5
    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    I have two 1/4" seam guide feet. One is true, the other has the metal that you put your fabric up against and it's off quite a bit. So, I use a seam guide. I actually bought "Seam Guides' and use them. It helps me make sure I'm doing 1/4'' seams. I should return the foot that isn't correct. It came with the machine but I bet they'd replace it.
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  6. #6
    Super Member AliKat's Avatar
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    Singer usually ahd a screw on seam guide too. I have one for my FW from my now dedceased portable
    Singer. But to get it to work I put one of those orange plastic strips under the seam guide.

    Though I read in Jan Krantz's Hunter Star quilt book and she did show using a double stick tape and a small maybe 3" ruler to the bed of the sewing machine. It is thicker and easily worked with.


    I also know of a few people who put a pile of sticky noted for their seam guide or moleskin. Neither of t hose worked for me.


    I do use my 1/4" flange seam guide foot a lot. But i hold my material differently such that i can't really describe it and it works. Sorry am in hospital so no way to get you a picture for a while.

    ali
    Have fun quilting! If it isn't fun, you will miss a lot.
    ali

  7. #7
    Senior Member MissSandra's Avatar
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    I use my ruler and a marking pencil to mark all my seams before I start sewing works well for me
    Warm Regards,
    Sandra

  8. #8
    Super Member virtualbernie's Avatar
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    You can also make sure that absolutely NO fabric is sticking out past the foot. The foot that came with my Singer is accurate as long as I keep an eye on the fabric. I did invest in another foot with the fence and it is an accurate 1/4" for my machine so I use that more because I'm too lazy to keep watching...Which Singer do you have?

    AliKat, I'm sorry you're in the hospital, wishing you a speedy recovery and I like that idea of the double stick tape and ruler idea!
    Bernie

  9. #9
    Super Member Krisb's Avatar
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    It seems like it's like kerf in sawing. When you iron the seam to one side, it takes up a little of the fabric. Even I measure from the thread line out and it right on a 1/4"' the two pieces don't measure exactly.
    I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.

  10. #10
    Senior Member hevemi's Avatar
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    here is a printable quide , the site is very interesting alltogether, usable tips, binding calculator etc.
    http://www.quiltdesignnw.com/QtrInchSeam.htm

  11. #11
    Super Member OKLAHOMA PEACH's Avatar
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    tried a 1/4" foot, too large, went back to my regular straight foot, its a scant 1/4", quilted for years before I found quilting sites with my regular foot, if you sew the quilt with the same foot from start to finish it comes out equal.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Bluphrog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CoyoteQuilts View Post
    To find out if your 1/4 inch foot is a true 1/4 inch the lines on an index card are exactly 1/4 inch. Sew on one line and follow the next line over at the edge of your foot. This will tell you if you need to move your needle over and if your foot is correct.
    I didn't know that! Thanks for the info.

    Elizabeth

  13. #13
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    Try this trick.

    Jan in VA

    Use a full sticky note pad because the depth of it keeps the fabric from crossing the seam allowance. Be sure to place the pad with the clued edged against the presser foot.
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    Jan in VA
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  14. #14
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I create my own physical seam guide similar to Jan in VA. However, instead of a sticky note pad, I use moleskin. This is a furry type thick bandage sold in the foot section of the pharmacy, Target, Walmart, etc. It comes rolled up inside a small box.

    Are you understanding the meaning of a scant 1/4" seam? It's scant because "turn-of-the-cloth" in the seam plus thread thickness eats up a little of your seam. If you sew the seam "scant", the end result after pressing is a piece that measures an accurate 1/4" less than it did before seaming.

    Anyway, here's my method for using moleskin. (1) Cut narrow strips from the moleskin using rotary cutter and a ruler. (2) Get a favorite quilting ruler -- or quarter-inch graph paper works too -- and place under needle of machine so the edge is 1/4" to the right. (3) Lower needle until it touches the ruler just slightly to the right of the 1/4" mark. (4) Lower the presser foot to hold the ruler in place. (5) Check that the ruler is running straight forwards and back. I eyeball it against the throat plate. (6) Remove adhesive from the back of one of the moleskin strips. (7) Carefully place moleskin so it is butting up against the edge of the ruler, and secure it to the throat plate. (8) I like the moleskin to extend both in front of and behind the presser foot; helps guide the fabric into the needle and keep it straight while sewing.

    On my machine, I have to move the needle one position to the right; otherwise the moleskin would be covering up part of the feed dogs!

    To test that this placement guide is correct, sew three 2.5" strips of fabric together, iron, then measure. You are looking for an exact width of 6.5" after you have sewn those two seams. If it's not 6.5", go back through the process again and adjust in the direction needed. I have done this so many times and know my machine so well, that I never have to re-adjust. (Of course, it helps that my moleskin lines up exactly with the edge of the feed dog hole!)

    If I want an extra-high guide, I layer another strip of moleskin on top of the existing one before removing the ruler.

    With this physical guide in place, I can sew very fast and still have very accurate 1/4" seams. Plus my eyes don't get tired from constantly staring at a line on the throat plate. I have found a physical guide like this to be *much* more accurate than the specialized feet that are sold for 1/4" seams.

    The adhesive on the moleskin is strong, but easily removed later without leaving residue on the throat.

    Edit: Sorry, didn't realize I was writing an essay here! One more thing I wanted to mention is that your sewing machine feed dogs may be making it difficult to sew even seams. Watch it and see if the feed dogs are pulling the fabric to the left or right. An easy way to do this is to take a couple of large scraps of fabric and just let the machine sew without guiding the fabric. If the machine sews in a straight line, the machine is okay. If it sews a curved line, the feed dogs are not in alignment.
    Last edited by Prism99; 03-23-2012 at 07:03 PM.

  15. #15
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    Are you going really fast. I agree with gauging your machine and placing a line of tape as a guide, that really helped me in the beginning until I got better with my foot. I find that most inaccuracies are due to a lot of impatience, wanting to get things done fast . Believe me slowing down does make for a better product

  16. #16
    Senior Member pinkberrykay's Avatar
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    Much agreed, I learned that the faster I sew the farther off my sew line is. I have been slowing down and am getting a precise 1/4 inch seam allows.

    I also noticed that I was holding my fabric too far to the right and it was not feeing in to my foot straight. I learned this by accident when I forgot to remove my "The Angler 2". It has a 1/4 inch seam allowance line, I started placing my fabric next to the line and sewing slow. My lines are much straighter now

    If you need a visual I can post a picture for you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dolphyngyrl View Post
    Are you going really fast. I agree with gauging your machine and placing a line of tape as a guide, that really helped me in the beginning until I got better with my foot. I find that most inaccuracies are due to a lot of impatience, wanting to get things done fast . Believe me slowing down does make for a better product

  17. #17
    Senior Member Michellesews's Avatar
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    I have had the same problem. Didn't realize it until I had sewn many blocks and in squaring them up, they weren't the right size, were too small. I was using a new sewing machine with a 1/4" foot with flange. I stupidly assumed that it would be the proper 1/4", not so! I used the method mentioned my someone else here, with the index card, and then I took it a step further and moved the needle one thread more to the left for the SCANT 1/4" which makes up for the "turn of the cloth" taken up when the seam is pressed. You would not believe how far off I was, I had to move my needle WAY over, in fact all the way it would go! I use a Janome Horizon and now use the Accufeed foot when I piece. I was amazed how far off I was....and of course, as you probably know, even if you are off use one needle's width, it compounds according to how many seams are involved, and in the end you are missing 1/8 - 1/4" all the way around the block. Very frustrating! I thought I was crazy! Even using the SCANT 1/4" seam, I barely come out with the right size block, but it is a big improvement. Who would have imagined sewing a perfect 1/4" could be so complicated??? Once you get it though, you've got it! Best of luck to you, really play with the index card and the sewing of strips and measuring...the strips will help you determine how much you need to move the needle further to accommodate the turn of the cloth, which is also very important as it does take up space. Let us know how it goes.
    Michelle Guadarrama

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