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Thread: Scant 1/4 inch seams???

  1. #1
    Super Member JEM65's Avatar
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    I have been using precuts on a tote bag and also in quilt blocks. I have used my Janome 1/4 inch seam foot and I am losing fabric after pressing. I am measuring and the seams are 1/4 inch but my local quilt shop owner says they are too big and I need to use a scant 1/4 inch. We also discussed changing my thread. Is anyone else having a problem getting a true block size after pressing using the pinked precut fabrics? Any advice would be welcome! Thanks in advance for the help!

  2. #2
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    the scant 1/4 inch. every quilter's nightmare.

    here's the deal. it has nothing to do with the fact that the fabs are precut. it has to do with how thick the fabric and - to a lesser degree - how thick your thread is.

    so - drum roll - the perfect scant may very well be different for every new project.

    if you want "perfectly" sized blocks you have to make some test strips before you start working on the actual blocks. keep fiddling with your settings until your test strips come out correctly. then write down the settings so you can go back to them if you've changed them for some reason. keep the settings notes with the fabrics and pattern for the project so they don't get mixed up.

    it took me 20 minutes to find the right scant for one project. blech! :thumbdown:

    i almost never worry about it anymore. i just make sure to use the same allowance consistently throughout a project and live with a slightly smaller outcome.

    there are only two times it really matters:
    (1) when you're trying to match HSTs or Flying Geese to square or rectangular patches. you'll usually need to trim them back to match up to the squares and rectangles.
    (2) if you're swapping blocks with somebody. then you still have to hope your scant and their scant are close enough to the same scant.

  3. #3
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Janome is notorious for having a 1/4" foot that is larger than a 1/4" seam allowance . I used to either move my needle over a spot or two or cut the fabric a smidge larger than needed. My new Bernina's 1/4" foot seems to be right on the money, but I used to have to play with my Janome a bit.

  4. #4
    Super Member dakotamaid's Avatar
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    I agree with everyone and just have one more comment, hopefully helpful. I use a micro fine needle (found in your local sewing shop) and the thinnest thread I can find to piece. I have found, for me, that this is the best alternative. Even than I try for the "scant" 1/4 inch seam. Clear as mud!!? :-D

  5. #5
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    I know this suggestion sounds like it is out of left field. Did you measure your piece before and after pressing? I wonder if your fabric is shrinking a little due to the heat. Are you using steam as well?

    I have never used a kit per se, but I would think fabric is fabric. I have had some shrink after washing, drying and pressing. It is one of the reasons I prewash (besides the dye running issues) religiously. I know I can always add sizing back into the fabric but it is really hard to add fabric once its been cut.

  6. #6
    gmaquilts's Avatar
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    I bought the Janome three in one 1/4"/SID foot for my Jem and it has a wide hole towards the right side that allows you to move the needle position to the right a couple of ticks so that you get a scant 1/4" seam. Works like a charm. And, so worth the $19.95 I paid for it.

  7. #7
    Super Member trif's Avatar
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    Well clearly I'm not one to have perfect blocks because I have never noticed this to be a problem. Maybe all my quilts are a little off and I haven't paid attention. Oh well, if I don't see it, it must be fine. I just dare one of my loved ones to tell me I have crooked blocks after I give them one of my quilts, hahaha

  8. #8
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    i have two Janome machines.

    the quarter-inch foot on the Janome MC11000 sews a scant quarter inch when the needle is left at the default factory setting.

    on the Janome 6600p:
    (2) standard 1/4-inch foot: set the needle at 3.7 for a precise 1/4-inch, and [usually] 3.9 for a scant. for some fabrics, i have to go farther to the right, but 3.9 is a good starting point.
    (3) accufeed 1/4-inch foot: 5.7 for precise 1/4-inch; 5.9 as my starting point for scant.

  9. #9
    Senior Member quilting memaw's Avatar
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    I have the Janome dc3018 and I use my walking foot and set the needle to 6.0-6.5 for my 1/4 inch and scant. I also found out that if I pink my blocks the I need to decide do I measure from the inside or outside of the pinking. It does make a small difference.

  10. #10
    Super Member sewcrafty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PatriceJ
    i have two Janome machines.

    the quarter-inch foot on the Janome MC11000 sews a scant quarter inch when the needle is left at the default factory setting.

    on the Janome 6600p:
    (2) standard 1/4-inch foot: set the needle at 3.7 for a precise 1/4-inch, and [usually] 3.9 for a scant. for some fabrics, i have to go farther to the right, but 3.9 is a good starting point.
    (3) accufeed 1/4-inch foot: 5.7 for precise 1/4-inch; 5.9 as my starting point for scant.
    Patrice that's great info as I'm doing flying geese right now and am actually playing with this myself.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by PatriceJ
    i have two Janome machines.

    the quarter-inch foot on the Janome MC11000 sews a scant quarter inch when the needle is left at the default factory setting.

    on the Janome 6600p:
    (2) standard 1/4-inch foot: set the needle at 3.7 for a precise 1/4-inch, and [usually] 3.9 for a scant. for some fabrics, i have to go farther to the right, but 3.9 is a good starting point.
    (3) accufeed 1/4-inch foot: 5.7 for precise 1/4-inch; 5.9 as my starting point for scant.
    Same here for my 6600!

    What is the thread thickness your using?

  12. #12
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    i use 50wt thread almost exclusively.

    i prefer it for quilting and sticking to one standard weight is easier for me than having to keep track of which is which. :lol:

  13. #13
    LadybugPam's Avatar
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    Clearly you are not unique - I would cut and sew the quilt my way hiding the evidence inside the finished quilt. But when passing my sewn blocks to someone else at Guild - heaven forbid me to show my disgusting seam allowance. So I used what I thought was a precise 1/4" measure. And failed to have the proper block size. In Google I typed "how to get the proper block size" and magically I found an article about finding your personal 1/4" scant seam allowance.

    Cut two pieces of fabric 2.5"x 4.5" --- sew using the 1/4" scant seam. Press the seam to one side. Measure. Your newly sewn piece needs to measure 4.5" square.

    The way you cut your fabric is also a contributing factor. Placing the acrylic ruler over your fabric (cutting right handed) I try to see the slightest of a sliver of fabric on the left of the line I am using to measure the cut.

    I have used these examples in my classes and I feel more confident in passing a sewn block at Guild and less fear when piecing.

  14. #14
    Super Member GladGrams's Avatar
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    I have a Husqvarna Sapphire 870 and the 1/4" foot is a hair off. I had to adjust the needle setting several times before I got it right. Then... had to change it again, as explained so well by others above, for a new thicker fabric. :evil: :evil: :evil: I wanted to throw the machine, the fabric and the thread out the window.

  15. #15
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    don't toss any of those.

    toss all the stress and worry over that stinkin' scant.

    put it into a drawer in attic or basement. take it out only on those rare occassions when it actually matters. ;-)

  16. #16
    Power Poster littlehud's Avatar
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    Good advice here. This was a great and informative thread. I really enjoyed reading this and learned a thing or two.

  17. #17
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    I think sewing the test strips is the very best advice given here.

    Then one knows where one is at and can make whatever adjustments are necessary.

    I loathe the "scant 1/4 inch seam" instruction.

    I'm equally fond of pinked edges on a block piece.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Aully's Avatar
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    I have pulled out my scant foot today and put it on machine becasue my 1/4 inch foot was sewing 1/2 inch.

    I used my scant foot to sew a straight line on a scrap piece of fabric, it measured 1/4 inch exactly. Do I need to put 2 pieces of fabric together and measure? or is the 1 straight line good enough?

    Thanks, Hugs!

  19. #19
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    You need to put two pieces of fabric together. Sew the seam. Press open and measure. You won't believe how much difference this makes.

  20. #20
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    and if using charms cut with the pinked edges, don't push your squares too much against your 1/4 inch foot. that takes away from your measurement too.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aully
    I have pulled out my scant foot today and put it on machine becasue my 1/4 inch foot was sewing 1/2 inch.

    I used my scant foot to sew a straight line on a scrap piece of fabric, it measured 1/4 inch exactly. Do I need to put 2 pieces of fabric together and measure? or is the 1 straight line good enough?

    Thanks, Hugs!
    It's still a good idea to check - because of variations in how a person may cut - example: my 2.5 inch strip is probably actually 2.55 inches wide - because of the "extra" fabric between the template/ruler edge and where the blade cuts.

  22. #22
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    My last class showed us the difference between the scant and the regular. Some patterns say to use a scant 1/4" also. If you take that little bit left from the scant 1/4" on one seam adn do it on all sides, it makes up to a big difference in block sizes. There really is a reason for scant. Now how can I adjust my machine? I order a ruler type thingie form her shop which when placed on your machine, you put the needle down in the 1/4" scant and can put blue tape down so you can use it as a line to follow. Then it has 4-6 other holes for making precise seams. When I get it I will post what and where you can find one. Thanks for this post. YOu have all helped.

  23. #23
    Super Member gale's Avatar
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    I have two janome machines and neither one have a 1/4" seam at the default center position with the janome patchwork foot. Annoying-it's a good thing I love my machines. Like Patrice, I don't usually worry about it once I get it right for one project. I sometimes have several projects going at once and don't want to worry about changing my needle position every time I sit down with a different sewing job. Plus on my first quilt top with my new machine I had it perfect, then it wasn't, then I redid it, then it wasn't again, and I finally redid it one last time and vowed I would not even bother to check it. It all fit together fine, even my piano key border.

    Also, I look for patterns where it doesn't matter.

  24. #24
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    Once you get the rhythm of your 1/4 inch seam down you will start recognizing when it is off. My first few blocks just didn't seem to work quite right and the woman who ended up teaching my "Intro to Quilting" class would look at them and say..."your seam is bigger than 1/4 inch". Darned if she wasn't right. She could tell in a look.

    We calibrated my machine (my way of saying we figured out where to set the needle for the 1/4 inch seam) on my quilt. After finishing 30 star blocks, I can tell a 1/4 inch seam too. I can promise that once you figure it out and practice it will get easier. My blocks aren't perfect but my points now usually match. I might need to trim down slightly but that is far easier than trying to add fabric in the end. (Oh yeah, I also learned that I'm supposed to PRESS not iron. Go figure. I bought an iron :lol: )

  25. #25
    Senior Member VickyS's Avatar
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    Love all the comments - some more things to tack onto this conversation from a 2 page note from my local quilt club Amador Valley Quilters on "How to attain Accuracy" for our block of the month. Author Jan Steinhoff.

    Touching on the things not mentioned in the prior post comments:
    Fabric should be smooth, no wrinkles
    Be consistent on the measuring (do you cut to the left or the right of the ruler marking every time??)

    Don't speed when you sew. Don't stitch over pins - it can cause inaccuracy by slightly delaying the stitch, thus shortening it.

    Do not use large needles and extra thick thread - the finer the better/more accurate.

    Align fabric edges properly - if you are even a thread off, the seam will not measure accurately.

    Press seams flat - don't iron (drag iron over fabric). Lift and put iron down flat. Set stitches by pressing seam flat first. Then roll it over so you press it open, Press down, lift up - don't grind iron down the seam.

    Fun fact - in a 12" block with inch long components - if you are off by 1/16 of an inch in each component, you will be off by 3/4 of an inch at the end.

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