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ro 01-05-2014 01:12 PM

Quarter of an Inch
 
who knew something so small could cause so many problems. i cant get 1/4" straight seam to save my life. i've tried a quarter inch foot. i've tried penciling the 1/4 inch. i have tape on the machine. when i get to the end i go off into la la land. believe me i've tried to concentrate on this because i'm goin crazy with it. i thought this was suppose to be enjoyment. well i find it very frustrating. any interesting hints or practices you do that might help me.

Tartan 01-05-2014 01:18 PM

Some machines come with a foot that gives a nice 1/4 inch when you keep the fabric even with the foot edge. You might like to try Bonnie Hunter's "Best Seam Guide Ever" that is on her site www.quiltville.blogspot.ca. It is made from a 3M strip and an old hotel key card. It is under her tips tab on her site.

tessagin 01-05-2014 01:19 PM

My little niece is learning to sew and I stress the quarter inch seam allowance. I tell her to keep her eye on the needle. She marks with chalk and will not talk to anyone until she is where she wants to be with her 1/4 ". She doesn't look away from the needle. She got a Janome mini/124 for Christmas and has made a drawstring pouch and a pillow for Fiona her puppy. I find if I waiver from the machine at all and sew to fast, I veer into another direction.

toverly 01-05-2014 01:29 PM

I wouldn't stress out about the 1/4 inch. Consistency usually is good enough for most blocks. Granted some patterns, it matters but many it doesn't. If seams are consistent, it doesn't matter if the block ends up 8 1/8 instead of 8 1/2. The quilt turns out so close to the same. My bee does a friend block once a month. Someone's name is drawn and they choose a block to be made for next time. The blocks are never the same size. Different eyes, different people, different machines.

MadQuilter 01-05-2014 01:32 PM

Sometimes the feed dogs are aligned so they pull the fabric at a slight angle.

A friend taped a full post-it note pad (with the glued side toward the needle) at a 1/4" distance and properly aligned on her machine bed. She uses it as a guide for her fabric. BTW, she taped the pad down with wide blue painter's tape.

If you are a real beginner, it may also be a matter of just getting familiar with all the bits. As long as you do not have HSTs in your design - only straight cuts, a consistent seam allowance will work for you. As soon as you introduce HSTs, you need that 1/4" or you'll cut off the points.

ro 01-05-2014 01:40 PM

tovely now you would think that a quarter of a inch is a quarter of a inch. it drives me crazy.

bearisgray 01-05-2014 01:49 PM

I have been sewing 1/4 inch seams so much that I had to mark 5/8 inch seams on a woven dress shirt that I made.

I think it's somewhat like driving into one's garage or carport. After a while, most of us do figure it out.

grandma nurse 01-05-2014 01:49 PM

Is it just at the end you are loosing your 1/4 inch? If so you need to use your pointy tool to hold the fabric as it finishes up the seam. If I don't use this my seam wonders off and comes out smaller.

ro 01-05-2014 01:53 PM

yes i lose it at the end. i dont understand why the quarter inch foot w/the bar is not a quarter of an inch. that's what bothers me.

Rodney 01-05-2014 02:02 PM

Every machine is different. Your 1/4 inch foot was 1/4 to whoever measured it on the machine it was made for. Manufacturing tolerances play a part too. If your machine has an adjustable needle you may be able to get a true 1/4 inch that way.
My machine is an old one so right now I use tape on the bed of my machine but that's coming off soon. It will be replaced with a fabric guide that screws to the bed of the machine.
Rodney

BellaBoo 01-05-2014 02:03 PM

There is a quick easy solution to the veering off. Put your index finger of your left hand against the left edge of the machine foot while sewing the seam or coming to the end, just a light touch and your seam will not veer. I do this automatically now.

Prism99 01-05-2014 02:06 PM

The easiest way for me to make fast, consistent, accurate 1/4" seams is to use an adhesive physical barrier, not a quarter-inch foot. I like these Dritz strips the best: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0085L2Y2I/ and have found them on the quilting notions wall at JoAnn's but, if they are not available, I cut my own strips out of mole skin (found in the foot section of any drugstore) and pile the moleskin two-high. When sewing, I simply butt the fabric up to the adhesive guide. I can sew very fast this way and still maintain accuracy. One of the reasons I think this method is superior to a quarter-inch foot with a guide is that the adhesive guide can extend a couple of inches in front of the presser foot (which helps a lot to keep the fabric lined up properly) and also can extend a little behind the foot.

Be sure you understand the "scant" quarter-inch that most of us use for piecing. Even the Dritz ruler (red ruler sold with the adhesive strips) that is supposed to be used to position the adhesive guide is wrong; I measured it, and it creates a full 1/4" seam (too big for quilters). A good way to test your seam is to sew three 2.5" strips together, iron, then measure. If the seams are an accurate scant 1/4", the width of the strips will measure exactly 6.5". If it measures less, the seam is too wide.

ube quilting 01-05-2014 02:14 PM


Originally Posted by BellaBoo (Post 6494944)
There is a quick easy solution to the veering off. Put your index finger of your left hand against the left edge of the machine foot while sewing the seam or coming to the end, just a light touch and your seam will not veer. I do this automatically now.

I agree with this. If you are loosing the seam at the end of the sewing then your fabric is wondering and it is an easy fix. By either doing the above or getting a chop stick to or some pointy thing to hold your fabric at the end so the feed dogs don't pull the fabric away from whatever guide you are using. Just a light touch to keep the fabric pushed close to the guide is enough to solve this problem. And SLOW DOWN!:D

Let us know if it works!
peace

Geri B 01-05-2014 02:42 PM


Originally Posted by ro (Post 6494927)
yes i lose it at the end. i dont understand why the quarter inch foot w/the bar is not a quarter of an inch. that's what bothers me.

It is, maybe your needle is not centered to make the stitch equal a quarter inch seam? On one of my machines, I gave to remember to reset that needle hen I turn it. On as default is not what I want.......as far as the tail ends veering off, buy a stiletto or buy shishkabob sticks, cut in half and use the pointed end as a stiletto...better than metal stiletto --- if needle hits wood not as damaging as metal..by holding the edge as it is sewed it will keep it straight. Also, slow down your speed, maybe you are racing, slow and easy is more accurate.

Geri B 01-05-2014 02:43 PM


Originally Posted by BellaBoo (Post 6494944)
There is a quick easy solution to the veering off. Put your index finger of your left hand against the left edge of the machine foot while sewing the seam or coming to the end, just a light touch and your seam will not veer. I do this automatically now.

Good idea, must try that, thanks Bella

PaperPrincess 01-05-2014 03:22 PM

Fabric and thread affect your 1/4" measurement. If you use thicker or thinner thread, different fabric, like homespun or flannel, this all affects your measurement. If you get a 1/4" foot and it makes the perfect seam for you without having to move the needle, you lucked out! Normally, you also have to adjust your needle position.
I usually use the same weight fabric and the same weight thread for all my projects but if I change something, I recheck my seam and move the needle if necessary. Here's a good tutorial on checking your seam:
http://www.quiltingboard.com/tutoria...ce-t89997.html

I also use a stiletto to guide the seam at the end.

QuiltingHaven 01-05-2014 03:33 PM

It might be where you needle sits. I have one machine that every time I turn her off, it automatically goes to some weird setting all on its own and I have to play with the (Curvy) to get the needle exactly 1/4" from the little metal bar on the foot of my 1/4"quilting foot. I have a piece of cardboard 3" by 6" that I have one marked the one side exactly 1/4" and every time I sit down at that machine, I put the cardboard with the 1/4' measure next to the foot bar and gently lower the needle to make sure it is exactly at the 1/4" mark, if it does not, I gently click the button that moves the needle till it is exactly 1/4" and also, make sure that I hold the fabric gently so that it maintains its 1/4" all the way past the needle. That works for me, hope it helps

Sunnye 01-05-2014 06:14 PM

Yes, every machine is different as Rodney said.
I struggled with the 1/4 inch for years. I finally wrote down where I had to put the needle to get a 1/4 inch. Then I finally got better at my "art" and realized that it all wasn't me. My machine was finally sent back to the factory for and "overhaul." I got new feed dogs, new needle threader, you-name-it, I got it new. Can't tell you what a difference it made.
If you think you are crazy for not being able to get the 1/4 inch (and in my case a straight line; mine was straight but diagonal), consider that it just may be your machine.

Holice 01-05-2014 06:52 PM


Originally Posted by ro (Post 6494927)
yes i lose it at the end. i dont understand why the quarter inch foot w/the bar is not a quarter of an inch. that's what bothers me.

It is a manufactured product with 10000' s stamped out. It is like any product. It must be checked to be sure. Don't assume it is accurate.

Elisabrat 01-05-2014 07:37 PM

On my brother I finally put out for a 1/4 inch foot. It works when I pay attention. When I get a bit lazy it doesn't. Why? you have to push the fabric slightly up against the foot, if you don't it slips away a bit then you get a line that veers or you get too far off the foot you have a lot of trimming. if you push too hard it goes UNDER the foot then you once again do not have a quarter inch and your short. so I use nothing faster than the medium speed, and usually not quiet that fast, and watch what I am doing. Watching sure is easier than ripping a seam or going back and fixing a seam that goes off on its own path. I tried tape not enough but I think maybe tape AND a 1/4 inch foot are not a bad idea at all. that area in front would be lovely to have the fabric simply coming in at that angle and in line. going to go check out bonnie hunters trick.. worth a look for sure. I spent all of last year struggling with my 1/4 seam now is a non issue. ALSO: you can cut your block pieces out a bit larger sew them to the next piece and trim to size perfectly a bit of an extra effort, and a bit more fabric wasted but not much in the large picture. you do get even blocks then with correct seams so you don't lose all the points when sewn together.

ragamuffin 01-05-2014 09:40 PM

Years ago, 40 something, I took basic sewing lessons from a great teacher. If you could sew a shirtwaist dress with cuffs and collar, you could sew any garment. I tailored for years, 5/8" seam allowance. I was taught by her to concentrate on the seam allowance, not the needle. Then I started quilting. I had to get that 1/4" seam allowance. I used white adhesive tape, used with bandages. I taped that down to my machine and I had no more trouble. You know the needle is set because you started to sew, then watch your seam allowance because the sewing will continue until you stop. I did not have any more trouble. And I have 7 machines but I am not telling anyone. No one saw that in this writing. haha

SimpsonFrances 01-06-2014 04:00 AM

Nobody has mentioned the quilter's "scant" 1/4 inch. I find that most patterns really mean to use a scant 1/4 inch seam. This measurement takes into account the needle size and thread width of your particular set up. I have learned that using my 1/4 foot but sewing a slightly less 1/4 inch seam works best for me. By slightly less, I mean maybe a thread or couple of thread widths less than 1/4 inch. If you measure your finished size, I think you might be happier. I have never used Bonnie Hunter's tool, but I have thought about purchasing one just to have when changing machines. Try sewing slightly less, a "scant" measurement and see if this helps. Hope it does!

NJ Quilter 01-06-2014 04:28 AM

I bought a 1/4" foot with guide specifically for my Viking at one point thinking it would help. Not! I have a 'scant 1/4' setting on my machine that works much better. Returned the foot. I also am of the school that keeps my finger on the left edge of my foot and gently guide my fabric through. I also agree that consistency is usually far more important than precision 100% of the time.

Rose Marie 01-06-2014 05:28 AM

I ended up making a block a couple of times with different needle settings until the block came out exact.
Then I wrote the setting on my machine. No more problems, my machine is set at 2.3 for 1/4 inch.
You can do it with a simple strip set also.

oleganny 01-06-2014 05:32 AM

I always watch the edge of the fabric ahead of the foot & try to keep that where it should be - that is what I was taught when Mom taught me to sew as a small child - so small I couldn't reach the treadle - she belted a box to the treadle for me to use - lol

coopah 01-06-2014 06:46 AM

I found that using thinner bobbin thread helped with the "scant" quarter inch. Also, adjusting my needle so that it sewed the width of an index card line helped, as well. Good luck as you continue your quilting journey.

Lady Diana 01-06-2014 06:52 AM

I learned to concentrate on where my hand is in guiding that last inch from a Serger instructor. She pointed out that most of us unconsciously pull the fabric to the left, then running off the edge of the fabric. She told us to never put our hand beyond the needle on serging, so then I started watching my hand when coming to the end of my piecing on my sewing machine.....yep, I was pulling the piece slightly to the left. So I started using a stylus to hold my piece at the end so it did not veer off and was held close to the 1/4" marking. It works. Also, I don't sew a 1/4" any more, I use a scant 1/4, my piecing seems to go together better and I am not short fabric when squaring up the block....I would rather trim a block then not have enough and have to unsew lots of pieces.

maviskw 01-06-2014 07:03 AM


Originally Posted by grandma nurse (Post 6494919)
Is it just at the end you are loosing your 1/4 inch? If so you need to use your pointy tool to hold the fabric as it finishes up the seam. If I don't use this my seam wanders off and comes out smaller.

The "pointy tool" works for me. I was always wandering at the end of a seam. It' didn't matter much when I was doing 6 inch squares for charity quilts, but it matters a lot when you have smaller pieces.
You can buy a stylus for a lot of money, use a chopstick from your Chinese meal, or use a bamboo skewer. The skewers are way too long, so I cut mine in half or less (my kitchen scissors will do that) and put them in the pencil sharpener. A very gentle push into the sharpener will get it as sharp as you like. I sharpen both ends this way. I have one with each machine and have given some away to others.
Happy sewing!

misschris 01-06-2014 07:19 AM

I also had that problem when I began quilting. I figured out it was the machine I was using. I invested in a new machine and do not have that problem. It was a foot pressure problem. Now I get perfect quarter inch seams.

willferg 01-06-2014 07:25 AM


Originally Posted by Sunnye (Post 6495362)
Yes, every machine is different as Rodney said.
I struggled with the 1/4 inch for years. I finally wrote down where I had to put the needle to get a 1/4 inch. Then I finally got better at my "art" and realized that it all wasn't me. My machine was finally sent back to the factory for and "overhaul." I got new feed dogs, new needle threader, you-name-it, I got it new. Can't tell you what a difference it made.
If you think you are crazy for not being able to get the 1/4 inch (and in my case a straight line; mine was straight but diagonal), consider that it just may be your machine.

I have always struggled with an accurate quarter inch seam, and I have tried everything listed so far plus numerous different feet. What's made the difference for me is getting a new machine. I find if I set the stitch width to 6, I get a perfect quarter inch. My last machine couldn't go wider than 5. It's taken me a decade to get this worked out!

mjhaess 01-06-2014 07:28 AM

Try the quarter inch seam guide...It works well...

carolstickelmaier 01-06-2014 07:41 AM

I find it also helps if I am sitting directly in front of the needle and not off to the side. I seem to get a more accurate seam and not wander. I have a Viking and I marked the inside of my lid with the proper needle setting for 1/4". Now I don't have to wonder if I remembered correctly.

bonnyh 01-06-2014 07:49 AM

I've stopped using the 1/4 inch foot after a little use, gets out of shape and gives me a 'fat 1/4 inch'. It's a little extra work, but I use a regular foot and move my needle over to the right. On my Elna, it is to 6.5 or 7.0 if I want a scant 1/4 inch, and then use the edge of the foot. To keep from drifting off at the end, I hold my fabric with my left index finger up against the right edge of the foot. Good luck with your endeavors and DON'T GIVE UP. It will get better.

stillclock 01-06-2014 07:50 AM

i find i just don't worry about it too much. i take one step back from my quilt and voila! it looks GREAT!

(lost points are driving me nuts and i am being flippant because this bugs me. but honestly...there's too much to worry about in the world to be freakin' about two threads over.....)

aileen

nativetexan 01-06-2014 08:08 AM

the 1/4 foot is just a guide. means you must guide the fabric as it goes along. the feed dogs will move your fabric at times where you don't want it to go. you must not push the fabric too much toward the edge guide or away from it. just keep it going straight. find a point to look at as you sew. the needle, the line and needle. the edge of the foot and the fabric. what ever works for you. then sew your seams. you will get it. just don't stress too much.

hevemi 01-06-2014 09:33 AM

http://www.quiltdesignnw.com/quiltin...t-patterns.htm

Scroll down the top column to 1/4 Inch Guide and print it. If you can adjust your needle position this is very handy, also for a scant 1/4 inch

hairquilt 01-06-2014 09:42 AM

I couldn't get a 1/4 either so I cut a small board about 6" long & inch wide & taped it to machine next to foot. It is long & thick enough to force me to sew seam correctly. Easy to retape. You can master it. Keep trying as it will make a huge difference in your quilt blocks!!

quilter2090 01-06-2014 10:31 AM

Buy a 1/4" presser foot with guide. It makes achieving a 1/4" seam easy. Most sewing machine brands have a 1/4" with guide available, but if your dealer doesn't have one available you can buy a generic one. I would suggest you see if you can buy on made for your machine first. Also, a 1/4" with guide presser foot makes Drunkard's Path blocks easy to make.

Jo Belmont 01-06-2014 11:03 AM

There are so many good suggestions here. However, I discovered that my piecing really stepped up a notch when I changed to a single-hole sole plate coupled with the quarter-inch guide foot (and yes, it is a "guide" and you must keep the barest end of the fabric against the guide or it will veer off).

Another great advantage to the single-hole sole plate is that there is a tremendous reduction in the amount of lint, etc. that accumulates in and around the bobbin.

I especially recommend as well using bobbin thread wound at half speed.

All these steps have taken my sewing to a new level.

NOTE: If your machine does not have a computerized setting to show that it's using the single-hole sole plate, then be especially diligent that you do not forget and switch to a zigzag setting as you will most definitely break your needle. Computerized machines automatically prevent you from doing this.

Hope this helps.

scisyb220 01-06-2014 11:07 AM

Find out where on YOUR presser foot is 1/4 inch from the needle, make sure you have your needle centered, and then use the point on your presser foot as your guide. I have two different machines, each has a spot on the presser foot I use for my 1/4" guide, but it is more consistent and reliable than the 1/4" foot for either machine! By using that as a guide, I have more reliable, consistent 1/4" seams than ever before. Beside, when you are sewing your eye is drawn to where the needle is going, not to the side. Make it easy on yourself. Find what works for you & stick with it, you can do this!!


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