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Thread: The Great Seam Question-Which Is The Right/Proper Allowance Width?

  1. #1
    Member Iona D.'s Avatar
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    The Great Seam Question-Which Is The Right/Proper Allowance Width?

    While I was developing my next project to the next level (calculating & adding the seam allowance width to the new self drawn pattern), one thought kept tickling & teasing my thoughts. The thought being the selfsame title of this post.

    The customary practice in traditional quiltmaking is 1/4 inch. Or some prefer a scant 1/4 inch which really does set it apart from a plain old 1/4 inch (yes, needle position, pressing, & seam direction makes a huge difference in the finished block's size). In the fashion apparel workrooms or factories, it most likely the width of the industrial machines' own feet (which is approx. 1/4 inch depending on the sewing machines' own make) which was carefully pre-measured way beforehand and added in the construction process at various times depending on the company's own practices. Then the seam(s) are usually sheared off with overlock/sergers during or afterwards and the only visible seam left is a pretty super skinny chain stitched finished one. In home sewing's commercial patterns it is 5/8 inch unless otherwise specified. On top of all this in most other counties, the Metric system is practiced and either is converted to the Imperial/English system or simply used entirely by itself. What is a person to do with all these possibilities?

    What I do within my own sewing nook, I choose one above and follow through. I select one based on past experience, use and even abuse (including washing/drying) of the finished product, even a occasional whim at times. My goal(s) of the finished product is always accuracy, durability, & minimal waste during construction. And doing what I have been doing for so long works?
    You better believe it.
    Minimal stress, worry, and seam ripping! Who could ask for anything more?

    We all must be the masters of our own sewing destinies within our own sewing areas! It is truly your time to be yourself.

  2. #2
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    The easy answer? Whatever seam allowance the pattern calls for. Otherwise, whatever works best for you.

  3. #3
    Member Iona D.'s Avatar
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    Great Paraphrasing. I was thinking long & hard out loud (online of course!).
    Last edited by Iona D.; 05-01-2017 at 05:42 PM.

  4. #4
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Whatever seam allowance you choose for your own patterns, you will still have to make it scant if your block is more complicated, such as more seams in one direction than in another.

  5. #5
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    Is a wider seam allowance more durable than a narrow one? For example, is a 1/2-inch seam allowance on a quilt more durable than the standard 1/4-inch seam?
    Pat

    Pfaff 7510, Viking Mega Quilter, Viking Quilt Designer II, Singer Treadle

    http://craftypat.blogspot.com/

  6. #6
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    It appears you have answered your own question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PatPitter View Post
    Is a wider seam allowance more durable than a narrow one? For example, is a 1/2-inch seam allowance on a quilt more durable than the standard 1/4-inch seam?
    Possibly. Depends on the amount of quilting. But it certainly is bulkier.

  8. #8
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    The right seam allowance is whatever results in your block being the intended size.
    Lisa

  9. #9
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    I have found that when "a group" is making the same block - supposedly the same piece sizes and seam allowances - the blocks frequently end up being different sizes.

    What is important to me is that the finished item ends up being the targeted size. Seam allowance is only one of the factors in achieving that goal.

  10. #10
    Power Poster Onebyone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by popover View Post
    The easy answer? Whatever seam allowance the pattern calls for. Otherwise, whatever works best for you.
    Exactly. No big deal to make about it.
    I believe giving what I can will never cause me to be in need.
    Being cheap is not a badge of honor.
    My heroes are working people, paying their own way, taking care of their children and being decent human beings.

  11. #11
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    Nobody is going to measure the seam allowance on your finished product. As long as the pieces end up being the correct size the exact size of the seam allowance is not all that important as long as it doesn't get too skimpy.

  12. #12
    Super Member Wanabee Quiltin's Avatar
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    I don't think it matters as long as each block in a quilt is made the same way. I know a woman who made a few quilts with 1/2 inch seams and then trimmed them down, she hated sewing the scant 1/4 seam. Personally I try and sew my quilts with the scant 1/4" seam. My one sewing machine doesn't do well at that, so it more like a true 1/4" seam. I try to keep all my blocks at that machine and not switch.

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