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Thread: Scant 1/4 " seam

  1. #1
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    Scant 1/4 " seam

    Can someone explain this to me? Why can't the designers just work an exact 1/4 " seam into the pattern?

    Linda

  2. #2
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    The fact is that when the fabric is folded, as it is at every seam, something is lost in the seam itself. It would be impossible to design patterns that made up for those few threads. You would have directions that told you to cut 2.52 inches for one piece, and 1.77 inches for another, and you would never be able to measure that accurately. It's a lot easier to just learn to sew a scant 1/4".

  3. #3
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    Is that true on all quilts or just certain ones?

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    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    You can sew the seam at an exact 1/4" and use your dimensions. Of course, you may lose some points in the process.
    Martina
    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric!

  5. #5
    Super Member QuiltnLady1's Avatar
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    I just got done refolding and fondling a bunch of fabric in my stash. 90% is LQS with some Joanne's and Walmart thrown in for good measure. Some of the fabric is a bit thicker than others and some a bit thinner. As Dunster said, the fold takes up some space -- and the thicker fabric takes up a bit more. What is important is the finished size of your block. You need to make the blocks in a quilt a consistent size so that you can assemble them and not throw the pattern off (like Madquilter said -- you may lose some points). It is best if you do a test to see what you have to do to get a consistently sized block.

    To do this, I cut practice pieces from the fabrics that I am going to use -- 2.5" x4.5' works. Stitch them and measure them. The block should measure 4.5"x 4.5"". If it doesn't, then make adjustments in your needle position or in the edge you run your fabric against. I use a lined note card -- the lines are 1/4" apart -- to get a good visual and I mark the information about where the needle should be positioned so if I go back a week later I can remember what I found and don't have to start over again with the measurements.
    QuiltnLady1

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  6. #6
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Not only does the fabric thickness make a difference but so does the thread. My seams got a lot more accurate when I changed to Aurifil for piecing.

  7. #7
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    I've yet to be shown here. Scant quarter inch seam vs quarter inch seam makes that much of a difference as long as you are consistent. Plus I do my own measuring for borders and not rely on pattern measurements.

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    Aw, Aurifil, my choice too! Love it! And it makes piecing easier for me too!

    Quote Originally Posted by Scissor Queen View Post
    Not only does the fabric thickness make a difference but so does the thread. My seams got a lot more accurate when I changed to Aurifil for piecing.

  9. #9
    Senior Member cizzors's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mucky View Post
    I've yet to be shown here. Scant quarter inch seam vs quarter inch seam makes that much of a difference as long as you are consistent. Plus I do my own measuring for borders and not rely on pattern measurements.

    Same here. I've used alot of Quilters Cache patterns which most, if not all, call for a scant. I use a full 1/4 and have never had a problem.
    Never outsmart your common sense.

    Karen

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mucky View Post
    I've yet to be shown here. Scant quarter inch seam vs quarter inch seam makes that much of a difference as long as you are consistent. Plus I do my own measuring for borders and not rely on pattern measurements.
    If you are required to sew two or more seams to make a section that then needs to be sewn to a block that is cut to for example, 4.5", then you need for the pieced block to finish at 4.5". Depending on fabric and thread and how many seams you are sewing, it can make a difference if you don't use a scant 1/4".

    If all the blocks are pieced, then a consistent seam will work, but as MadQuilter said you may lose a point or two.

  11. #11
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    Once upon a time I saw a show on Alex Anderson...can't remember the designer/instructor. Her 'benchmark' was the 'Personal piecing measurement'. I'm a full believer in this. Granted, the pattern calls for a scant 1/4". As long as all of your seams are consistent and your blocks line up - why fret???? I don't. I've even been know to 'stretch' or 'gather' a block or two in my lifetime. For a local BOM I just had to cut strips 2 11/16???? Who came up with that???? I understand why based on the later construction of the block but really?? Who came up with that! Go with what works for you. Relax. It really isn't that critical - IMNSHO!

  12. #12
    Super Member Neesie's Avatar
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    I always use 1/4" seam, except on HST. As long as you're consistent, the seams and points should be fine. I've even used 1/2" seams (on enlarged blocks, for dog beds) and my points, etc. still matched up just fine.

    If I'm using thicker fabric and am afraid of the thicker fold taking up too much space, I simply press the seams open, instead of to the side. Works for me.
    Last edited by Neesie; 06-29-2012 at 05:40 PM.
    Neesie


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  13. #13
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    I think some designers say 'scant 1/4 inch' for the same reason that some medications say 'ONLY take so much every four hours'

    There are some folks that think 'more is better'

    It also depends on how the original pieces are cut. 1/64 of an inch difference can make a cumulative difference if there are a lot of pieces are in a block.

  14. #14
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    Very simply a scant 1/4" is necessary for rotary cut projects so all the pieces fit together as they should. That means no fudging, easing or lost points. A scant 1/4" is merely 1 or 2 THREADS narrower than an accurate 1/4". Believe it or not there ARE times when something like 2 11/16" is an accurate measure; and you are VERY likely to come up with that same measurement if you used Mary Ellen Hopkins Personal Piecing Measurement Method.
    The trick is to learn when you need to use it and where you don't have to.

  15. #15
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    Neesie, I totally agree with you, makes much more sense to me.
    Another Phyllis
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  16. #16
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    I just listened to Kay England's introduction to the Civil War quilt class on Craftsy and she stated she doesn't believe in "scant" quarter inch piecing. If you use a slightly smaller stitch length and finer thread than standard sewing thread like 50 wt Aurofil or Superior Threads "Masterpiece" it will be less of an issue.
    Cheryl Robinson
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  17. #17
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    I have noticed a big difference in 1/4 in foot for different machines too. My Janome is a full 1/4 in. and my Bernina is more a scant. If I start piecing a quilt on my Bernina, I make sure I only use the Bernina on that quilt top. Consistency is the most inportant thing, as said before.

  18. #18
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    If one remembers to do this - if one has to put project away before one finishes it - it's helpful to write notes to oneself - which ruler one is/was using for cutting - where one is placing the 'line' when cutting - which machine was using - which presser foot - if the needle is movable - what setting one was using -

    Small variations can make a big difference - especially if the block has many small pieces in it.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by T-Anne View Post
    Aw, Aurifil, my choice too! Love it! And it makes piecing easier for me too!
    I agree, but still do a scant. Am so grateful that my Jem Platinum has one automatically

  20. #20
    Super Member Rose Marie's Avatar
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    My home machine and my travel machine are set up to make the same size blocks.
    I have never been able to use a full 1/4 in as my blocks always come out to small.
    So scant is what I use and it works out fine.
    I wasted too much money on 1/4 in feet and now use my regular foot with a scant needle setting number on both my machines.
    With the group I belong to it is necessary to make an accurate size block for group projects.
    But if you dont need to do that it dosnt matter if your blocks are not the size the pattern calls for, it will all fit togather fine.

  21. #21
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    This is very interesting reading about scant 1/4 inch seams. It took me a very long time to try a scant even when it is not called for to try it. And believe it or not my seams match a lot better. I use it all the time now. I am happier.

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