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Thread: Need help With 1/4 inch seam

  1. #1
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    Need help With 1/4 inch seam

    Please help me. I have read over and over again about what to do to make sure your 1/4 inch seam is really 1/4 of an inch and just can't seem to make it come up exactly 1/4 of an inch. What happens if it's off a tiny bit but all of the seams are sewed at the same width? Will it screw up my quits really bad or will it just make the pattern be a little larger or smaller depending on which way the seam is off?

    When I piece the pieces together and pressed them, they lay flat. However, I keep reading about how important it is to keep seams at 1/4 inch.

    Thank you in advance for your help.
    Fabric is like money, no matter how much you have it's never enough.

  2. #2
    Super Member Vanuatu Jill's Avatar
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    I use a 1/4" foot which helps alot. I think it is well worth the cost (not much, I just bought a new one with a fabric edge guide for my Brother for $12.99.

  3. #3
    Senior Member AndiR's Avatar
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    Betty, on certain patterns it will not matter. For instance, a Rail Fence block, where you sew three strips together. If the measurement is supposed to be 6-1/2" and yours is 6-1/4" wide, just cut the blocks 6-1/4" in the other direction so they are square. Your finished quilt will be somewhat smaller, but if you don't tell anyone they won't ever know {smile}.

    Other patterns, however, are more critical. Certain stars blocks may have their points cut off - that type of thing.

    Did you know that the ruler you use can make a difference? See my post here http://www.quiltingboard.com/main-f1...l-t142312.html

    And I also have a post on how to achieve that accurate 1/4 inch seam here: http://www.quiltingboard.com/tutoria...ce-t89997.html

    Keep in mind that you don't really care that the seam on the backside of the block is perfectly 1/4", it's the measurements on the FRONT side that matter.

    Good luck!

    Andi

  4. #4
    Super Member QuiltnLady1's Avatar
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    Andi has a great tutorial about this.

    Here is what I do:
    1) Make yourself several 2.5" strips, sew them together then press them open. They should measure 4.5".

    2) If your sewing machine allows you to adjust your needle and if your sewn strip is less than 4.5", then move your needle a bit to the right, stitch and measure again -- play with this until your strips are the correct size and make a note of your needle position.

    3) If your sewing machine does not allow the needle to move, use a piece of blue painters tape to mark your sewing line and adjust it until your sewn pieces are the correct measurement.

    What happens is that your fabric, when it is pressed open, takes up some of the finished width of the fabric and the little adjustments compensate for this. When you reduce the width of the seam to accommodate the fabric, this is called taking a scant 1/4" seam.

    Something else that can drive you nuts -- always measure on the same side of the line on the ruler. Decide what side you are going to use and stick with it because switching your cutting guide from "inside" to "outside" can make a couple of thread difference in the with of a strip and in a large quilt it can make you way off.
    QuiltnLady1

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  5. #5
    Super Member newbee3's Avatar
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    do you have the capability of moving the needle ??? Just measure 1/4" from the needle and use whatever foot you have. You can also put down tape to mark the 1/4" usually make it a little less that is a scant 1/4"

  6. #6
    Senior Member pacquilter's Avatar
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    Getting a 1/4" foot a few years ago really revolutionized my quilting..I can't imagine being without it now. You still have to apply some control, but it makes it much easier having the guide.
    Last edited by pacquilter; 03-20-2012 at 12:46 PM.
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  7. #7
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    If you are doing a repeated block, the 1/4 inch seams are not as important as if you were doing a sampler quilt. When you do different blocks with a variety of pieces the exact seams are important for all the blocks to turn out the same size. I have a patchwork foot for my Bernina that makes a perfect seam but there are lots of other solutions for different machines. First test the 1/4 inch seam on your machine. If you have a machine that you can move the needle position, that might work for you. Some people like to mark the machine bed with a guide from masking tape or sticky notes. Try the different feet from your machine, maybe a zipper foot will work?


  8. #8
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuiltnLady1 View Post
    1) Make yourself several 2.5" strips, sew them together then press them open. They should measure 4.5".
    Two strips should measure 4.5", I agree, but the test is much more accurate if you sew three strips together and make sure the center one measures 2" while the total measures 6.5".

    Also, you should press the seam the way you usually press your seams when making a quilt. If that's to one side, without setting the seam first, then do it that way for your test. It won't do you any good to adjust everything to a pressed open seam if you never press your seams open.
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

  9. #9
    Super Member soccertxi's Avatar
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    These quilters have given you wonderful resources! Don't forget to BREATHE! oh..and sometimes for me, bad weather and not holding my mouth just right will affect my seams too! ::::grin:::::
    Beth in AZ
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  10. #10
    Super Member MacThayer's Avatar
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    I just couldn't get that 1/4" seam either, no matter what I did, and even with a 1/4" foot. I finally cut some test material, put it front side down on some fine sandpaper (so it wouldn't move or stretch) and drew 1/4" seams on my material. A lot of material, by the way. Then I started sewing, carefully keeping the needle centered right on that 1/4" line I'd drawn. You know, it really didn't take me all that long to figure out what I was doing wrong. I measured and measured. As long as I stitched on my line, I was getting perfect 1/4" seams. Which served to prove that I was reading the 1/4" foot all wrong. By continuing this process, I learned to "read" the foot correctly. It was a small error, but a huge one when magnified over and over. I now, finally, sew 1/4" seams. Now I'm working on that ever elusive "scant" 1/4" seam, whatever that is. I know if I'm going to do this one, it has to be consistent. But lots of patterns call for it, so I'm going to learn it, whatever it is.

    Just keep practicing. And take that tutorial! You'll get it.
    MacThayer

  11. #11
    Super Member virtualbernie's Avatar
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    I had a 1/4 foot that came with my machine but I had to be so so careful. If even one thread came past the edge of the foot, I was sunk--I couldn't see the fabric under the foot. Now I have a foot with a fence on it and can see the fabric moving against the fence and somehow that helps to steady my hand.
    Bernie

  12. #12
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    Thank you to everyone who replied. I think you guys have provided me with the information I needed to resolved my seam allowance problem. I do use a 1/4 inch foot and I have the 1/4 inch marked on the machine, however, I have never payed any attention to which side of the ruler I used when checking my 1/4 inch seam allowane. Also, I have never checked the seam allowance measurement by sewing the 3 strips together and checking the size of the middle strip. I did sew 3 strips together a few minutes, pressed the seam and measured the middle seam on the front side of the strip. My center strip was exactly 2 inches wide. I am a happy, happy woman tonight!
    Fabric is like money, no matter how much you have it's never enough.

  13. #13
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    What kind of machine do you have? I bought a 1/4" foot for my machine and although the website showed that it would fit my machine it didn't. It would have cost me more to return it so I didn't bother. If it will work on yours I'll send it to you. I did get one to fit my machine and love it!

  14. #14
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    accurate 1/4 inch seams is necessary if you are swapping blocks and you need the exact size needed otherwise it doesn't make any difference if you are happy with the block and quilt.

  15. #15
    Junior Member gigigray032447's Avatar
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    You can practice on index cards, without thread in your needle. I have taught two people to piece quilt tops, and used this method until they learned where the 1/4 inch is on their machine and until they learned to sew a straight line. Neither of these girls had ever sewn before. I also did this when I bought a new "old" machine recently so I could determine exactly where the quarter inch should be. You'll be glad you mastered this very important technique as you sew more and more intricate designs.

  16. #16
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    When I took a quilting class the lady had us use a 1/4" squared graph paper and use it to be sure our machine sewed a 1/4" seam. I just put the paper under the foot making sure the first line of the 1/4" was at the middle of the feed dogs and then used the hand crank to pierce the paper with the needle. You would be surprised how much that helped. If you are off much perhaps you could move your needle position. Another good trick is to be sure to measure the 1/4" and then use painters tape to keep you in line. Hope this helps.

  17. #17
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    Mine are never perfect 1/4 ince, however they are all the same. Consistently off a hair. It works for me!

  18. #18
    Power Poster solstice3's Avatar
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    Ditto on test strips. If you can adjust needle position that can help. You have a lot of good suggestions here and sure at least one will work

  19. #19
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    mark your seam allowance guide several inches from the needle. Very often if you don't guide the fabric beginning the several inches in front of the seam foot, it can go under the needle less than desired width. The way we sit in front of the machine can cause the seam to waver. I find this helpful.

  20. #20
    Super Member jitkaau's Avatar
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    As long as all of your seams are consistently the same width, it should not cause too many problems. You will just have to remember that the finished measurement of your blocks will not be the same as stated in your pattern if you are using one. Best thing is to make the first block and measure it. If all of your other blocks are the same size it will work out ok as long as you adjust any sashing and borders to fit.

  21. #21
    Super Member AZ Jane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacThayer View Post
    I now, finally, sew 1/4" seams. Now I'm working on that ever elusive "scant" 1/4" seam, whatever that is. I know if I'm going to do this one, it has to be consistent. But lots of patterns call for it, so I'm going to learn it, whatever it is.

    Just keep practicing. And take that tutorial! You'll get it.
    Seems funny that the lovely Pioneer ladies didn't have "scant" problems. Seems like it is a modern problem.
    Better to do something imperfectly, than nothing perfectly.
    Done is better than perfect.

  22. #22
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    I have had the same problem and just couldn't win the battle. I finally pruchased the stripes that adhere to your machine I did test strips and when I got it right I stuck one on. The quilt I'm working on now is the first I've used them on and it is coming out better than any I've made so far. The plastic strip is kind of raised so you ride the fabric next to it. One of my problems was I didn't have the fabric running stright all the time. this helps with that also. Good luck!

  23. #23
    Super Member EagarBeez's Avatar
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    The very first quilt I made, I marked every square and made lines. I have a table sewing machine. Now I use the pressure foot as a guide. I don't make quilts for shows. I of course had at the beginning of my quilt journey wanted to be PERFECT and got upset when my squares weren't lining up properly. Instead of enjoying the process, I was getting stressed. The wonderful quilters here gave me some very good advice.
    If you can't see any mistakes while riding on a galloping horse, I would not be worried about it. Relax and enjoy yourself. That is not word for word, but, I did get the meaning and I am more relaxed and enjoy what I am doing
    I never believe in the word can't,unless you've tried

  24. #24
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    Wish I'd seen this before we worked together stiching a project together . 3 of us matched and one was different . Threw whole piece out. Not sure who was correct ,but next time will do tut first . Thanks

  25. #25
    Senior Member Sewnique's Avatar
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    If your machine allows you to move the needle, move it until your seam is measured out to be a " on whatever foot you want to use. I did-do this and works out perfectly.
    Bootsie

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