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Thread: How long did it take you to conquer 1/4" seams?

  1. #1
    Senior Member DeneK's Avatar
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    I try -- I really try. But I cannot seem to get any consistency. There are a whole of of quilters here -- please tell me there is hope.

    I have tried several 1/4" feet. Tried stacking the post-its. Tried marking my sewing machine bed.

    Sometimes it works. Sometimes I just think it is working until I try to put together the pieces of the block and nothing fits.

    Can you tell I am frustrated today?

  2. #2
    Super Member TonnieLoree's Avatar
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    Perhaps it's not your seams. Maybe it's the cut pieces that are inconsistant. :D

  3. #3
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I still draw 1/4" seam line on some pieces. I found a perfect scant 1/4" foot for my machine that really works so I'm happy.

  4. #4
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    Some patterns are made to use a scant 1/4" and others a full 1/4".
    I start out with a scant and then measure along the way. Sometimes I need to tighten up the seams and other times I am right on :D:D:D

  5. #5
    Power Poster erstan947's Avatar
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    I feel your pain:) When I first started quilting I could not get anything to match. I was using the lines on my mat sometimes and using lines on my ruler. The mat had warped and I got it flat again. In the process the lines were distorted! I now use the lines on my ruler and keep the same style/brand of rulers to keep my cutting consistent. My goal is consistent seams usually a scant ". Don't give up!

  6. #6
    Senior Member lisalisa's Avatar
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    It took me a little while. None of the tricks people commonly use ever worked for me. I came to find out that the last track in the feet dog served as a perfect scant guide.

  7. #7
    Aunt Retta's Avatar
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    I struggled with this one. The only thing that started helping was a special 1/4 inch foot that had a pieces of metal that went down to the right of the foot. This marked where the fabric had to stay in order to get the 1/4 inch seam.

    Please describe what happens when you mark the 1/4 inch with the sticky notes etc. -----How are your cutting skills? Are your cuts making the 1/4 inch seam harder to achieve?

  8. #8
    MTS
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    I just wrote this yesterday to someone else who was having a similar problem.

    http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-112724-1.htm#2925138

    You might very well be sewing a perfect 1/4" seam. But it you're still coming up too short (or too long/wide), then your problem is either in the cutting or in the pressing.

    And a 1/16th off in the cutting, not pressing the seam properly here and there.... then you sew a couple of subunits together and your block is short 1/4". Not a big surprise.

    Those other steps are just as important as the sewing. And that's not quilt police propaganda. ;-)

    As I did in the thread link, if you can get your hands on "The Art of Machine Piecing" by Sally Collins, it will explain in nauseating detail the how/what/where things go wrong, and how to prevent it.

    It's really just checking, checking, and checking at each step of the way.

    Notions - post-its, 1/4" feet, block books - they're not a panacea for understanding the construction.

    And then, after you understand the how/why/where, you can totally forget Sally's perfectionist ways and go make art quilts. ;-)

    Try to find the book. Really. ;-)

  9. #9
    Super Member carolaug's Avatar
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    Buy a foot with a 1/4 inch guide.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Kat Sews's Avatar
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    My 1/4 inch seams have been good ever since I spent the money (less than a good cutting mat) to buy a seam guage to go with my 1/4 inch foot.

  11. #11
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    Hi Dene,

    Can you tell us what kind of sewing machine and foot that you're using? Can you provide a picture? Are you able to move your needle left and right? If you can that is a great help. It helps to consider sewing a scant 1/4 inch all the time. It really helps to have a 1/4 inch foot with the flange on it, worth every penny of it's cost.

    You said you're not getting consistancy, have you asked yourself why? What are you doing different from piece to piece? Are you sewing too fast? Are you holding the fabric differently from one time to the next?

    How are you preparing your fabric? Do you wash and iron it each time? Do you use sizing, starch or the new product Best Press? Do you sew and then press your seams before going onto the next? Do you set the sewn seam line before you open and press? Are you being consistent with every step from each time to the next?

    However, I found with my 1/4 inch foot that I still needed to move my needle to help get the scant 1/4 sewing line so that my seams ended up being 1/4 inch.

    I also have found a plastic open toe foot that has marking lines on it. I sewed sample seam lines until I knew exactly where to put my fabric edge and where the needle had to be to get the scant 1/4 inch. This foot was also worth every penny of it's cost. I like the open toe as you can see where the needle is going down into the fabric as you sew.

    As someone else mentioned I have marked my sewing lines on some pieces depending on the pattern.

    Pam M

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kat Sews
    My 1/4 inch seams have been good ever since I spent the money (less than a good cutting mat) to buy a seam guage to go with my 1/4 inch foot.
    Thank you for this very good tip.

    With a good seam gauge you can always figure out where the needle needs to be to get the scant 1/4 inch seam line. Helps to use a discount coupon for the purchase.

    Pam M

  13. #13
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTS
    And then, after you understand the how/why/where, you can totally forget Sally's perfectionist ways and go make art quilts. ;-)
    Hey, come on now! Don't be giving away professional secrets!! :XD:

  14. #14
    Super Member ladyshuffler's Avatar
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    I have an attachment that has the 1/4" built in...........would be lost without it :D :D

  15. #15
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    The other thing to remember is that thread and fabric affect the seam. I know where my scant 1/4" inch usually is, but I always sew a trial block and sometimes I have to make an adjustment because the thread/fabric combo throws it off. so you need to verify at the beginning of each project. Cut three 2" strips, about 4-6" long as accurately as you can. Sew them togther and press. The center strip should be exactly 1.5".

  16. #16
    Super Member Veronica's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTS
    I just wrote this yesterday to someone else who was having a similar problem.

    http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-112724-1.htm#2925138

    You might very well be sewing a perfect 1/4" seam. But it you're still coming up too short (or too long/wide), then your problem is either in the cutting or in the pressing.

    And a 1/16th off in the cutting, not pressing the seam properly here and there.... then you sew a couple of subunits together and your block is short 1/4". Not a big surprise.

    Those other steps are just as important as the sewing. And that's not quilt police propaganda. ;-)

    As I did in the thread link, if you can get your hands on "The Art of Machine Piecing" by Sally Collins, it will explain in nauseating detail the how/what/where things go wrong, and how to prevent it.

    It's really just checking, checking, and checking at each step of the way.

    Notions - post-its, 1/4" feet, block books - they're not a panacea for understanding the construction.

    And then, after you understand the how/why/where, you can totally forget Sally's perfectionist ways and go make art quilts. ;-)

    Try to find the book. Really. ;-)
    That was me.
    I'm slowing down, being very careful with the cutting, sewing and pressing. Things are better but not perfect. Practice, practice, practice.

  17. #17
    Senior Member DeneK's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the great tips. I did just get a 1/4" foot with a flange. I have a new (to me) older Husqvarna Viking 400. I will practice with some scraps and see how well I can do.

  18. #18
    Super Member 117becca's Avatar
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    i try not to be so concerned about exactly a 1/4" seam allowance as I am consistent w/ the same seam allowance. I am careful when i cut, and I do starch and press in between all steps.

  19. #19
    Super Member TonnieLoree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeneK
    Thanks for all the great tips. I did just get a 1/4" foot with a flange. I have a new (to me) older Husqvarna Viking 400. I will practice with some scraps and see how well I can do.
    You are the only other person I know that has a Husqvarna/Viking. Mine is 5 years young, but had to sit in storage for 2 years due to "life situations". I love it! Bonus, Kenmore attachments will fit on mine. Can't believe how expensive H/V attachments are.

  20. #20
    Super Member SharonC's Avatar
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    Unfortunately it's "practise, practise, practise". I've tried beating them into submission, but couldn't win :).
    You could use some blue painters tape on your machine or the stickem pads, so you'll have something to lodge the edge up against.
    Don't sweat it, you'll get there.

  21. #21
    dragonflyxlx's Avatar
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    I would be lost without my 1/4inch foot. But even with it, for me accuracy in cutting is very important, and also accurate pressing is a must for me. I feel that even with the special foot, sewing slowly and focusing is still important to the whole operation. Even when I am very careful with all of the above, shift sometimes happens. I have come to see quilting as a labor of love, and a reminder that nothing is ever perfect, but everything still deserves the love. So I kind of love the little imperfections too.

  22. #22
    Super Member carolaug's Avatar
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    I have a friend that used 1/4 width masking tape on her fabric prior to her getting a foot with the 1/4 foot.

  23. #23
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    How long did it take me to perfect 1/4 inch seams? 5 years, I hope. (I've been quilting about 4 years, 8 months...)

  24. #24
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    We are always learning new ways.

  25. #25
    Super Member alleyoop1's Avatar
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    I have the same problem and have tried everything you list. The one thing that has helped me the most is training myself to watch the edge of my 1/4" food and not the needle.

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