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Thread: Any tips or best advice for a scant 1/4 seam

  1. #26
    Member Fortyniner's Avatar
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    I am a beginner but I have been following this message board for a couple of months and have just finished my first lapsize quilt top. I too have had difficulty in achieving a consistent 1/4" seam even with a 1/4" foot. After reading all of the advice here, I ordered a new 1/4" foot with a guide on the right hand side. Then I tested it by sewing together 3 pieces of 2 1/4" fabric and measuring the 3 blocks. My results were less than the expected size. I have a machine that will allow me to move the needle several spaces to the right or the left on a straight stitch, so I moved the needle one space to the right and tested my fabric again. Voila!! The fabric measured 6" exactly. If I were a little younger, I would have danced with joy. I have a reminder set by my machine telling me to reset the needle position. I also reduce the stitch length, so doing both makes it easier to remember. My question is- am I using a regular or a scant 1/4" inch?

  2. #27
    Senior Member quilting in my60s's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BellaBoo View Post
    It will be helpful to use a seam guide. I use Command Strips but you can use painters tape, mole skin or paper. I make my seam guide to go across the whole width of my machine throat. I use a 1/4" foot. Be careful to not veer the end of the seam to one side. That causes a lot of fitting problems later. Sew very slow. I piece slow enough I can count the stitches as I go. I went to an expensive precision piecing workshop for making show quality quilts and the main point was to sew SLOW, never be able to see the underneath fabric peeking out and backstitch at start and stopping even when chain piecing.
    Here's my 2 cents worth: I read somewhere on QB to let the bottom fabric just peak out when piecing because fabric always seems to slip a bit so I guess whatever works. I pin, pin, pin so fabric doesn't slip and if you have a speed set on your machine that helps to set it on slow.
    quilting with my dogs

  3. #28
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    I use my 1/4" foot on my machine and tend to sew just inside for a scant 1/4" seam, or at the very least I wind up with a 1/4" seam - that works.

  4. #29
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Fortyniner, I am confused by your mention of sizes.

    As far as I can figure out, 3 strips of 2-1/4" fabric sewn together with scant 1/4" seam should measure a total of 5-3/4" after sewing two seams.

    A more common method is to cut 3 strips 2.5" wide and aim for a measurement of 6.5" exactly after sewing two seams (not 6" because there is an unsewn seam to left and right that add up to .5").

    Edit: Regarding your question, you want to *sew* a scant 1/4" seam so that after pressing, the fabric taken up by the seam (including turn-of-cloth) is *exactly* 1/4". If you think about it, we all draw block patterns based on exact *finished* 1/4" seams. In order to achieve the exact finish, we need to sew a "scant" seam to allow for turn-of-cloth and space taken up by the sewing thread.
    Last edited by Prism99; 03-17-2013 at 10:28 AM.

  5. #30
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    Yes! Forget the term "scant 1/4 inch seam." Some misguided soul who wanted to take the fun out quilting made that up to see how many people would stress out over one thread width. Use your 1/4 inch seam foot or other guide and keep your seams uniform--or not--depending on what degree of perfection you require.

    Scant 1/4 inch seam my right foot!! froggyintexas


    Quote Originally Posted by bobbiesboutique View Post
    Good morning QB I have a huge favor to ask I just got my first patterns I've ever paid for in the mail and I am picking out fabrics and beginning to make templates. Starburst and Stardust from Dereck Lockwood I will probably alternate working on quilts lol. My question and request is one calls for a 1/4 scant seam is there anyone who can give me some pointers on the best way to achieve these, and is there anyone who has done either one of these quilts if so any info that would help. I have been a quilter for almost a year and I am really confident with my sewing I absolutely have fallen in love with quilting and not a day goes by that I am not learning something new by choice or sewing, planning just anything to do with quilting. I absolutely love this site and all of you I do not belong to a guild or group there are none close to me and I have a 6,4,and 14 year old so there is no gatherings at times I can go to until they are all in school You guys are my guild love ya all you are such an inspiration!

  6. #31
    jna
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    I use a 3/16 of an inch and find that makes a good scant 1/4. That brings you in a couple of threads from the 1/4 mark, my needle doesn't move left or right, my bigger problem is the hole that is to big for the needle to go into and the company doesn't make a smaller one. I am working on a quilt that has 1 5/8 in squares and the pieces need to be sewn that scant 1/4 of an inch. I would think that by now the quilting industry would make that phrase into a number measurement. I don't know metric but I am going to look into that--jna

  7. #32
    Super Member irishrose's Avatar
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    Do modern machines have a screw hole in the bed for attaching a metal seam guide? I have one on any machine I want an exact seam of any width. I think you can still buy the guides - do not waste your money on the magnetic one. It shifted around. The 1/4 foot wasn't consistent for me. I'm sure it was just operator error, but I'll stick with my little metal 'dams'.

  8. #33
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    I found the most sensible way to think of my seam allowance: Mary Ellen Hopkins' PPM. That PPM (Perfect Personal Measurement) works for me. Is mine 1/4"? Probably pretty close, depending upon which machine I use.

    As someone said earlier, I refuse to lose the joy of quilting by obsessing over a scant 1/4".

  9. #34
    Member Fortyniner's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Prism99;5934532]Fortyniner, I am confused by your mention of sizes.

    As far as I can figure out, 3 strips of 2-1/4" fabric sewn together with scant 1/4" seam should measure a total of 5-3/4" after sewing two seams.

    A more common method is to cut 3 strips 2.5" wide and aim for a measurement of 6.5" exactly after sewing two seams (not 6" because there is an unsewn seam to left and right that add up to .5").

    Edit: Regarding your question, you want to *sew* a scant 1/4" seam so that after pressing, the fabric taken up by the seam (including turn-of-cloth) is *exactly* 1/4". If you think about it, we all draw block patterns based on exact *finished* 1/4" seams. In order to achieve the exact finish, we need to sew a "scant" seam to allow for turn-of-cloth and space taken up by the sewing thread.

    Prism 99, I see what you mean. I probably just don't remember the exact measurements I used since it was a few weeks ago that I did it, but I directly followed the instructions on sewing together the three pieces and the measurements came out correctly when I moved the needle to the right. The quilters on this board do a wonderful job of providing resources and references and I used either directions from someone on the Board or an on-line reference you guys provided. I have learned all kinds of wonderful information here,which is really helpful, since I haven't taken any classes I also had never heard of leaders and enders until I read it on the QB. You guys are the best.

  10. #35
    Member Fortyniner's Avatar
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    Here is the test I used. I want to be sure I don't confuse anyone. I copied this from a post on the Board by bearisgray:

    Do a test to see where the problem might be:
    1) Cut three strips of fabric 2 x 5 inches long
    2) Sew them together with 'your' 1/4 inch seam
    3) Press
    Measure - the unit should measure 5 x 5 inches - and the center strip should measure 1 inch wide

  11. #36
    Power Poster solstice3's Avatar
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    On my machine I can move my needle so that's how I do it. If your needle doesn't move left or right, painters tape is a great tool for lining up

  12. #37
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    I found an awesome product called "Clearly Perfect Angles" made by New Leaf Stitches. It is a vinyl template (no adhesive!) that sticks to your sewing area and gives you lines to sew perfect angles, as well perfect 1/4" seams. I have a (supposed) 1/4" foot, but it's actually slightly larger than 1/4". I'm just now completely my first project wit hthis new tool, a Half Hex pieced quilt, my seams were ALL the same size thanks to this tool and the many pieces, fit together perfectly. I highly recommend it!

  13. #38
    Super Member orangeroom's Avatar
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    I saw that someone suggested a 1/4" presser foot. You need to specify that it's for quilting. If you don't and you're in the middle of a block, the new ones will be a different size vs the blocks you made with your old presser foot. If the person working at the store says they're the same, THEY ARE NOT!!!! Learned that the hard way. The regular sewing machine employee (in the JoAnn's store husqvarna dept was out and a regular JoAnn's employee was filling in).
    Go forth and sew!

  14. #39
    Super Member irishrose's Avatar
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    Fortyniner, if you take 1/4" off each side of that 2" strip, wouldn't it then be 1 1/2" wide. 1.75+1.75=1.5=5

  15. #40
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by irishrose View Post
    Do modern machines have a screw hole in the bed for attaching a metal seam guide? I have one on any machine I want an exact seam of any width. I think you can still buy the guides - do not waste your money on the magnetic one. It shifted around. The 1/4 foot wasn't consistent for me. I'm sure it was just operator error, but I'll stick with my little metal 'dams'.
    None of my 'modern' machines (vikings & brothers) have this feature. Don't know about the other brands. It's one I really miss from the machine I learned on. I really think it's because the machine bed, where the screw hole was, is now made from plastic.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

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