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Thread: Newbie Question: How worried should I be about 1/4-inch?

  1. #1
    Senior Member JenelTX's Avatar
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    Finally! I started my first quilt today. (I forced myself to wait until I had finished another project.) What a fun day! I cut strips and made 22 blocks with 9 squares in each. They're supposed to measure 4.25 x 4.25 inches, and they all do... except one. That one is 4.25 x 4 inches, maybe a little bit less.

    I think I'm just going to throw it away and make a new one, but I wanted to ask more experienced quilters how much I should worry about a quarter inch. Do you normally throw away a block that's off by that much (smaller)? If not, how do you compensate for the shortfall?

    Next weekend... pinwheels!!! :)

  2. #2
    Super Member Vicki W's Avatar
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    It will make it easier for you later if you toss it. (Save it and let it find it's way into another project later.

  3. #3
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    At first I worried more about consistancy of my seam allowances than I did exactly what measurement they were. Consistancy is far more important.

    As for the one block, don't throw it away. Rip it apart, figure out where your error was and fix it. It may have been in cutting, it may have been in stitching.

    We learn by ripping :)

  4. #4
    Power Poster erstan947's Avatar
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    Rather then throw it away, I remove the stitching, press and recheck the pieces size and then resew. Sometimes one block will have extra large seams. As close as you can be accurate the better your blocks will fit together.:)

  5. #5
    Power Poster MamaBear61's Avatar
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    As you work with more pieces and blocks the 1/4" can be your best friend and everything will go together smoothly. I know my first few quilts show the difference an 1/8" or two can make in the final products. I have improved greatly but still end up taking the odd block or seam apart to correct a "situation".

  6. #6
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    If you have enough fabric, you could put it in a scrap pile. If not, you could always put it in the corner of the quilt (we won't report you to the quilt police)

  7. #7
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hopetoquilt
    If you have enough fabric, you could put it in a scrap pile. If not, you could always put it in the corner of the quilt (we won't report you to the quilt police)
    Or use it as the label on the back of the quilt.

  8. #8
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    accuracy is important
    Accuracy is important
    ACCURACY IS IMPORTANT

  9. #9
    Senior Member clynns's Avatar
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    Rules to live by:
    1. The seam ripper is your best friend.
    2. Tear it out and re-measure your pieces. If they are exactly what they are supposed to be, re-sew. If they are not and you have extra fabric, just recut those pieces that you need to.
    3. Take painters tape for masking tape and mark off on top of your needle plate 1/4 inch line. Place the tape 1/4 inch from the needle. Use this line as your guide.
    4. Sew the block again. Measure the block.

    You should be good to go.

    PS. There are no quilt police on here. A lot of varied opinions of different things that work for different people. Try several different things and keep what works for you. But good habits are best started at the beginning. If you are consistent now, later on you'll do it automatically. And many patterns require that you be exact on that 1/4 inch.
    Don't give up. I have a seam ripper in my sewing machine, my thread cabinet, on top of my bookcase, and in my purse. Plus a couple extras that I've picked up just in case I can't find one. LOL

  10. #10
    Super Member PurplePassion's Avatar
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    I never throw away blocks , they can be used for making potholders, or in a small doll quilt or a scrappy quilt.or make a pillow , by adding borders.

  11. #11
    Super Member Rose L's Avatar
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    I'll agree that accuracy is important, especially when you have a lot of seams to match or in very intricate blocks like the lone star. That said however, in some quilts accuracy is needed but being off 1/8" isn't the end of the world. Sometimes a little added pressure (or pulling) will allow you to work two blocks together and get matching seams. You just don't want to tug so much that you stretch-out a piece of fabric to a noticeable level. Anything that ends up a full 1/4" or more off in my estimation should be reconstructed or replaced. For newbies...ripping IS learning. You can see where you are making your mistakes which will lead you to being more aware and careful in the future.

  12. #12
    Senior Member JenelTX's Avatar
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    Thank you so much, everyone! I hadn't even thought of ripping out the seam to see where I went wrong. I'll do that, as a learning experience. I think it happened because I slipped with the rotary cutter when I got to the top of that piece, so it was a little smaller. Then I forgot to adjust for that when sewing the seam, so it ended up too small.

    I really, REALLY had a lot of fun today!

  13. #13
    Super Member TonnieLoree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holice
    accuracy is important
    Accuracy is important
    ACCURACY IS IMPORTANT
    What Holice said. :thumbup:

  14. #14
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    Well, there aren't any quilt police, but the odd block will not "fit" in the pattern correctly. You will have to fudge and distort it or the other blocks to get it sewn in. Better to either resew it or make another.

    Think of it like this: If you had a puzzle with rigid pieces, would one that is a quarter inch bigger or smaller than all the rest fit? No. Just because this is fabric, and can be stretched/gathered/etc, it still won't look as good.

  15. #15
    Super Member Pamela Artman's Avatar
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    Accuracy is very important and will save you a lot of headaches when sewing blocks together. That being said, in a pinch, there are ways to "fix" a 1/4" mistake without starting over if it's worth the trouble. Sometimes, if you're not matching seams, you can ease in some of the fabric and make each side of the block a little "short" when putting your blocks together. If I do that, I will put a pin in the short sides so I will notice when I'm sewing the rows together and will know to line that edge up a little shorter with the edge on the other row. If it's a cutting problem (oops, cut too small!) you can take out one or two seams and resew them a little narrower than 1/4". I was helping a friend yesterday and this very thing happened. She was working from a kit and did not have a lot of extra fabric, so I ripped out her seams, resewed them and eased them into her block. It was a headache, but it worked and it was the only way to finish her table runner with the amount of fabric she had. So.... my best advice is to be extremely accurate in your cutting and sewing that 1/4" seam, but if something goes awry, if it's less work to "fudge it" rather than starting over or ripping out seams, I'd do that.

  16. #16
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    I agree with everyone - I call myself stitchnripper because I do that a lot!!! Always aiming for that perfect 1/4 or scant 1/4 inch.

  17. #17
    Super Member moonwork42029's Avatar
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    I bought a 1/4" foot and it seems to really help me. If I have my contacts in, I can't see up close and some times I can't take them out to sew just a little bit so this foot really made a difference in some quickies.

  18. #18
    Super Member Murphy's Avatar
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    I would not use it with the current project you are doing, but I would not toss it. If you can cut it down it can be used in another project or add it it and make a mug rug or something like that.

  19. #19
    Super Member GwynR's Avatar
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    Don't toss it! I messed up a pinwheel yesterday. Today that too small pinwheel that won't fit in with the rest is a beautiful coaster!

  20. #20
    Super Member jemma's Avatar
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    hi because i am a slow learner [the type that dosnt read instructions until i have to]i took a few years to catch on that a good 1/4 seam saves time-- looks good-- and works!!!!!do some small stuff to work out your way to get a 1/4 inch seam on your machine----i got myself a designated 1/4 inch foot[not all are good]and i now have seams that match mostly first time--fun all the way

  21. #21
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    As much as we want those tops to be DONE, the devil is in the details. I found out the hard way that prep work WILL make a difference. If you cut accurately, and sew accurate (consistent) seams, and press accurately AND CAREFULLY, and make sure your blocks are the same size, your top will pracically fall into place. One block out of joint and you WILL be fighting with it.

  22. #22
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    If you try to sew the 4 x 4.25 block to the rest of the blocks with the same size seams, it will be a pain in the *** .

    You can "cheat/compensate" by drawing the "finished" size square on the back of the block - and then use 1/8 inch seams on the skimpy sides.

    1/4 of an inch on a 4 inch (finished) block is a lot.

    I would redo it.

  23. #23
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    i would never throw away a block for being too small- i would set it aside to use somewhere else-
    and how important is your 1/4" seam???
    you should strive for getting it right- but no one is perfect-

    if you are making a 16 patch (checkerboard) square- and your seams are off just a tiny bit (1/8") --you join the first row of 4 squares...1/8" x 4--- you are 1/2" off---if you joined two of these blocks you are a whole inch off- by the time you put 6 blocks together for the first row of blocks your measurements are off by 3 whole inches!!!
    those little bits add up-
    sometimes it works to cut a little larger and trim down- or use a scant 1/4" but for every 1/8" off you are- every 8 seams will add to a whole inch

  24. #24
    Super Member Aurora's Avatar
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    That bloody 1/4" seam has been and remains my nemesis!

    However, I keep trying o conquer it.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Sunflower Girl's Avatar
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    Accuracy is very important if you want all your blocks and points to match.

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