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Thread: Quarter inch seams

  1. #1
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    Quarter inch seams

    I've always thought I was getting quarter inch seams using my quarter inch foot. Even measuring the seam it looks like 1/4 inch. Started the Skill Builder BOM at the beginning of the year and my first block didn't come out right. I got one of those plastic thingies with the tape that you tape down to have 1/4 inch seam...my presser foot wouldn't go down with it on my machine. So then I read about measuring 1/4 using the lines on an index card. I did that yesterday and decided to put painter's tape where 1/4 line is. It covers one of the feed dogs! What's up with that?!?!?! I have the Pfaff Ambition 1.5. Why would the machine be designed this way? Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

  2. #2
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    The seam will work better if you use a scant 1/4". You may have to move your needle to the right a notch to get the scant 1/4".
    Pat H
    Carencro LA

  3. #3
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    I use the quarter inch foot with guide on my Ambition and it works great.

  4. #4
    Super Member Maggiemay's Avatar
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    I use the 1/4" foot on my Pfaff & it works great. I move the needle over a notch for a scant 1/4". The 1/4" foot on my Janome is wide though, so you are right in that they are not always accurate.

  5. #5
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    You can have a perfect quarter inch seam and have your block still not come out the right size. It actually isn't about what's on the seam allowance side of the seam. It's what's left on the other side of the seam that matters. Take three pieces of fabric 2 inches wide and sew them together. Measure the center piece on the right side and if it's not 1.5 inches adjust your seam allowance accordingly.

  6. #6
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I also have to move my needle to the right when using my 1/4" foot.
    Scissor Queen has provided the best way to check your seam.
    After you figure out where it is on your machine, you're good to go. Note, however, if you change thread size, or fabric, ex: going from cotton to flannel, you should re check and possibly readjust. It only takes a few minutes, and I'd rather take some time checking my seam allowance before I begin than to spend a lot of time and energy pushing/pulling & ripping out to make my blocks fit.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

  7. #7
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    You cut out the part that covers the feed dogs leaving the feed dogs open to operate. You mentioned you were using painter's tape. Just cut out the section of tape which covers the feed dogs leaving the tape before the feed dogs, after the feed dogs and to the right of the feed dogs.

    If I can find my camera I'll take a picture for you. I use a folded index card as 1/4 seam guide. First I measured 1/4 and then I taped the card in place to the front and back of my sewing machine. Where the index card would cover the right hand feed dogs, I cut that out so the feed dog wasn't covered.

  8. #8
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    On my Bernina 1230, I move my needle one notch to the right to get my scant 1/4" seam. I have never been able to get accurate seams using a foot. I measure my 1/4" from the needle, then place a physical barrier so I can butt my pieces against it when sewing. I can sew much faster with this barrier. Have cut up and used moleskin in the past, but now I use a Dritz adhesive seam refill because it is higher. (Do not trust their red "seam gauge" that goes with these refills for setting your 1/4" seam. I measured it, and it is set for a full 1/4". If you use it, your seams are almost guaranteed to be a little too big.) I would have posted a picture, but no one on Amazon seems to sell it right now. Got my last batch at JoAnn's for under $3.

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    Thank you everyone for your insights. I've hesitated to move the needle over, because then I'd have to remember it every time I turn on my machine. My memory is not what it used to me, I have to use notes all over the place to remember other things, so I guess I could just attach a note to my machine. I appreciate everyone's help!

  10. #10
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    It took me a long time (at least a year) to remember to move the needle over every time. Now I seldom forget. For a long time I would place a piece of blue painter's tape in front of the needle when I finished a sewing session so I would remember to move the needle before removing the tape. I wrote on the tape too.

  11. #11
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    That is one of my dilemmas with my first sewing machine, a Singer I think 327. The needle doesn't have a position changer, so that isn't possible. And, to make a tape to mark the 1/4 inch covered up the feed dogs too, at least the right side. I only made one quilt on that machine and then "stole" my favorite dinky Brother mechanical from my son and that has a needle position.
    Alyce

  12. #12
    Senior Member bigredharley's Avatar
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    I"m beginning to feel vindicated, When my blocks didn't match up and I was always using my 1/4" foot I thought there had to be something wrong with me.....
    ​Nancy

  13. #13
    Super Member quiltinghere's Avatar
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    The fabric and thread you use has an affect on that hard to get "quarter inch" "scant quarter inch".

    A person really needs to test sew in order to make sure the seam allowance is coming out correctly for the fabric and thread they're using in a project. It really does vary. Test it with thin fabric and then again with thicker fabrics.

    Nan
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  14. #14
    Member maggiek's Avatar
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    I got the Clearly Perfect Angles tool. It is a vinyl sheet that clings to the bed of your sewing machine by static cling so can be easily installed and removed. You line up the needle in normal position with the center line of the guide and then can place fabric on the 1/4 inch line. It is about 8 inches long so can extend a long way down the front of the machine or table to aid in guiding. Also works perfectly for half-squares and other angled sewing. I have a drop in bobbin so had to cut out a section in the middle to fit over the cover but easy to do with the instructions provided. Now my seams are much better than when I used the 1/4" foot.
    Maggie

  15. #15
    Super Member lovelyl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigredharley View Post
    I"m beginning to feel vindicated, When my blocks didn't match up and I was always using my 1/4" foot I thought there had to be something wrong with me.....
    Same here!
    Linda
    There may be times we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. - Elie Wiesel

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    Quote Originally Posted by maggiek View Post
    I got the Clearly Perfect Angles tool. It is a vinyl sheet that clings to the bed of your sewing machine by static cling so can be easily installed and removed. You line up the needle in normal position with the center line of the guide and then can place fabric on the 1/4 inch line. It is about 8 inches long so can extend a long way down the front of the machine or table to aid in guiding. Also works perfectly for half-squares and other angled sewing. I have a drop in bobbin so had to cut out a section in the middle to fit over the cover but easy to do with the instructions provided. Now my seams are much better than when I used the 1/4" foot.
    Oh! Oh! I will have to check this out. I watched the tutorial and it seems like a must have gadget for me. I have one question. I'm not sure I understand how you would use it to make flying geese. Do you use it for that too? Although I love gadgets, I'm trying to only get ones with multiple purposes.

  17. #17
    Super Member KalamaQuilts's Avatar
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    Pressing can play a large part in mis-sized blocks also. If you wait to press after stitching usually the block with grow.
    I like to starch and press before I cut, the pieces are so nice to work with then.

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    I am so confused!!! What is a "scant 1/4"" 1 thread, 2 threads, x# threads and who can see those threads? If you use the same 1/4" measure on your machine all the time then your blocks will be correct and will fit together. I have a Singer and I move my needle to the correct position to get 1/4" ( not scant) and all my stuff fits and measures correctly. An issue may come when trying to work with other peoples blocks since their 1/4" may not be the same as yours. Down with the "scant 1/4""!!!!!.
    "In the crazy quilt of life, I'm glad you are in my block of friends."

  19. #19
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    If you have a machine that does zig-zag, you will notice that the right hand feed dogs don't even come into much contact with the fabric when you are sewing 1/4 in. seams. Only half of the feed dogs touch the fabric, and that is the very edge of it. With scant 1/4 in. seams, they contact even less. But I do it anyhow. I can move my needle so the fabric will still be contacting that half of feed dog.

    I have a magnetic guide to mark the scant 1/4 in. seam, but it is unusable on the zig-zag machine; the feed dogs are in the way. It works on my old 301 (not a zig-zag), but sometimes it goes out of place if I bump it in the least. I wouldn't recommend buying it.
    Mavita - Square dancer and One Room School Teacher

  20. #20
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    Most people have address labels around their house I do. Hundreds of them I just stack up 3 or four of them and mark my 1/4" with them. That way you can change it to what you want. They come off easy to.

  21. #21
    Super Member grandjan's Avatar
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    I've struggled with getting my blocks to come ou precisely for years; don't know whether it's the inaccuracy of my 1/4 inch seams or something else but I've finally just begun to either paper piece the block or make the units a little outsized and trim everything back to the precise measurement I'm after. It's a little more trouble in the short run but saves a ton of frustration when I start assembling all the blocks.

  22. #22
    Super Member Sweeterthanwine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by labeelady View Post
    The seam will work better if you use a scant 1/4". You may have to move your needle to the right a notch to get the scant 1/4".
    This is what a friend of mine told me long ago and she was a quilting teacher and an avid quilter herself. Tried it and it worked.

  23. #23
    Super Member MaggieLou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by berryberry View Post
    You cut out the part that covers the feed dogs leaving the feed dogs open to operate. You mentioned you were using painter's tape. Just cut out the section of tape which covers the feed dogs leaving the tape before the feed dogs, after the feed dogs and to the right of the feed dogs.

    If I can find my camera I'll take a picture for you. I use a folded index card as 1/4 seam guide. First I measured 1/4 and then I taped the card in place to the front and back of my sewing machine. Where the index card would cover the right hand feed dogs, I cut that out so the feed dog wasn't covered.
    I did pretty much the same thing only I used an old magnetic business card. I just cut out the area where it went over the feed dogs. I can't adjust the needle on this machine. I have a vintage Kenmore. Works just fine and it's easy to move if necessary.
    Margaret

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  24. #24
    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
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    This is what I do to achieve the scant 1/4" I use graph paper. This little chart is on my Elna 7300. On my other machines that do not have a movable stitch position I use blue painters tape to mark the seam width I want after using the graph paper.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Sweet Caroline

  25. #25
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I took a very expensive precision piecing class a few years ago. Once you find the seam allowance you want then the secret is to sew very slow. Slow Slow Slow. One stitch at a time. It won't be long until you can sew a perfect 1/4" seam without any guides at all.
    Got fabric?

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