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Thread: Scant quarter inch seam?

  1. #1
    Junior Member jackiesmith's Avatar
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    Scant quarter inch seam?

    Why do we need it? We are always told we need to have a perfect quarter inch seam. Then you get a pattern or a kit that tells you to use a scant quarter inch, or one or two threads less than a quarter inch? If you foolishly think you can ignore these instructions...you will loose your points or something else will not fit. But at least you were told. My real peeve is the ones that don't mention you should use the scant quarter inch. Am I the only one who finds this crazy? Can someone explain why everything can't be sewn using the the quarter inch seam we try to perfect with special feet and other gadgets? I am truly blessed that this is all I have to complain about
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  2. #2
    Super Member Watson's Avatar
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    I'm with you. I would rather have a pattern use a 1/4" and then have to cut the resulting block down than fiddle with this scant 1/4" stuff.

    Watson

  3. #3
    Super Member ArtsyOne's Avatar
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    Me too! I also wish that I could use a regular-width foot which is just a hair wider than my 1/4" foot because my feed dogs are just placed too closely to that 1/4" that they don't always move the fabric straight.
    A fabric stash is always missing that one fabric needed to finish the quilt on which you're working.

  4. #4
    Super Member quiltsRfun's Avatar
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    Make a sample block, measure, adjust your seams accordingly. Do what's needed to get the correct finished size. "Quarter-inch" seams vary from person to person and machine to machine.
    Last edited by quiltsRfun; 01-15-2018 at 09:31 AM.

  5. #5
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    It must be to save fabric - it makes no sense to me either. If you are trying to get a specific size with the # of pieces is the only time it would make a difference, so if you are trying for a specific size is the only reason I can find the reason for the "scant" seam.
    Last edited by quiltingcandy; 01-15-2018 at 09:37 AM.

  6. #6
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    ​If they gave the sewn unit size like Bonnie Hunter does, this would be helpful as well.

  7. #7
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    I don't worry about it - just adjust my seams so the block ends up what I need. If they are a bit big, I take a hair more width, if they are running small, then I take a bit less.

    So it makes no difference to me what the pattern says.
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

  8. #8
    Power Poster Boston1954's Avatar
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    I have been quilting since 1992 and have to achieve the perfect 1/4 inch seam. My six inch block end up being 5 7/8. I don't worry because I am making them all, and they will be off by the same amount. If something says scant, I avoid it. It does seem odd that they say that. I would think they'd make them the same.
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  9. #9
    Super Member Sync's Avatar
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    I'm with Macybaby, it makes no difference what the pattern says. I have also found that using a 50wt/2ply or a 60wt thread makes a difference with my seams.
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  10. #10
    Super Member Doggramma's Avatar
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    I have a problem with a consistent quarter inch much less a scant one. My blocks pretty much always turn out a little less than they're supposed to measure. For me, my quilts still come together and I have points. I'm only really really careful when I have a pieced border that measures an exact amount that needs to be added. I don't really like easing in a larger border because they get wavy.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by quiltsRfun View Post
    Make a sample block, measure, adjust your seams accordingly. Do what's needed to get the correct finished size. "Quarter-inch" seams vary from person to person and machine to machine.
    That's what I think too.

  12. #12
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    The scant 1/4" is all about turn-of-the-cloth. When you iron a seam, some fabric is taken up by the turn at the seam. If you start with two 5" squares, sew an exact 1/4" seam (meaning 1/4" allowance to the right of the sewing thread), and iron them open, theoretically you should have a rectangle that measures 5" wide by 9.5" long. However, in real life it will measure something like 5" wide by 9.46" long. This is because part of the fabric not in the seam allowance has been taken up by the turn at the seam line.

    With many patterns, the exact finished size doesn't matter.

    With some patterns, it does matter. For this reason, it is good to be able to achieve a scant seam when you need it.

    The easiest way for me to ensure even scant seams is to create a physical barrier on the bed of my machine. I use molefoam for this. Basically all I have to do is butt the raw edges up against this barrier to sew a consistent seam at the depth I want.

  13. #13
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Prism explained it well. And since there's a variation in fabric and thread, there can't be a foot or other tool that tells you exactly where that scant quarter inch line should be. You need to find it yourself, based on the fabric and thread you're using for that project.

  14. #14
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    I'm so glad someone else dislikes this as much as me!!! I find it to be a real PITA

  15. #15
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    The thing that always bothers me is that although we talk about the width of the seam, you shouldn't measure the seam you measure the resultant patch. Sew with the size seam that will result in the right sized block. As mentioned, there are some patterns that as long as your seams are all the same you'll be good. Other more complex blocks require more precision. It takes the same amount of time to sew the correct seam as incorrect. I'd rather spend a few minutes fine tuning my seam at the start of every project than lots of time stretching, easing or ripping blocks to fit.
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  16. #16
    Super Member NZquilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boston1954 View Post
    I have been quilting since 1992 and have to achieve the perfect 1/4 inch seam. My six inch block end up being 5 7/8. I don't worry because I am making them all, and they will be off by the same amount. If something says scant, I avoid it. It does seem odd that they say that. I would think they'd make them the same.
    I'm with you here.
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  17. #17
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    Tiny patches, like 1" finished blocks or smaller, require you measure the block, not the seam, in order to make a perfect patch. That is how I make miniature quilts. Heck with the scant, it is what it is to make the patch perfect.

  18. #18
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    I have read that the accuracy in cutting these days does make some difference too. A simple 9 patch can be any size seam you want as long as you are consistent. A block that has 1 seam on one side and 3 on the other has to have a seam that measures to your finished block. I am getting better with scant, but I always have to sew a bit and then measure what my finish is going to be. It's just more to add to the challenge. I am sewing a log cabin precut kit right now. I know where the seam has to be on my 1/4 inch foot and where I have to move the needle, to get a size that the next log will fit perfectly. A true quarter inch is too big a seam. The scant is 2 threads less and when I move the needle 1 click to the left, I am perfect. And, I have to make sure I am running the material right at the edge of the foot. Sometimes all this stuff just drives me nuts, but I just get over it and continue on.
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  19. #19
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    I use EQ7 to design quilt blocks and have noticed for some blocks at certain sizes the absolutely accurate block size may be in an increment of 1/16 of an inch. In this case, recognizing that very few users want to cut in 1/16" increments the designer may choose to instruct the user to use a scant quarter of an inch.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99 View Post
    The scant 1/4" is all about turn-of-the-cloth. When you iron a seam, some fabric is taken up by the turn at the seam. If you start with two 5" squares, sew an exact 1/4" seam (meaning 1/4" allowance to the right of the sewing thread), and iron them open, theoretically you should have a rectangle that measures 5" wide by 9.5" long. However, in real life it will measure something like 5" wide by 9.46" long. This is because part of the fabric not in the seam allowance has been taken up by the turn at the seam line.

    With many patterns, the exact finished size doesn't matter.

    With some patterns, it does matter. For this reason, it is good to be able to achieve a scant seam when you need it.it

    The easiest way for me to ensure even scant seams is to create a physical barrier on the bed of my machine. I use molefoam for this. Basically all I have to do is butt the raw edges up against this barrier to sew a consistent seam at the depth I want.
    Quote Originally Posted by SusieQOH View Post
    I'm so glad someone else dislikes this as much as me!!! I find it to be a real PITA
    and we all know that "pita" stands for " problem in the area"

  21. #21
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    Bearisgray probably all of us know exactly what PITA means.
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  22. #22
    Super Member Teen's Avatar
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    Prism makes sense. I dislike "scant" sewing but typically do it if block has a lot of points. When I first starting quilting 1 1/2 years ago, one of my first quilts was a BOM and all blocks were "scant" directions so I learned pretty quickly but it definitely was PITA.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by quiltsRfun View Post
    Make a sample block, measure, adjust your seams accordingly. Do what's needed to get the correct finished size.
    This is what I do. The end results are what matters, not how you get there.

  24. #24
    Senior Member janjanq's Avatar
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    I still don't understand why patterns call for scant 1/4 inch instead of simply 1/4 inch.

  25. #25
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    Most of us have gotten a gentle reminder that we are not allowed to use the "problem in that area" acronym. We also very careful about using capital letters.

    I am rarely sewing quilts that I don't have to be concerned about my seam as long as I'm consistant. When I sew two pieces together, I need the resulting piece to be a specific length or the next parts won't line up. I also can't stand to sew if I can't actually see the edges of the fabric. The foot on my machine works great for me because I need to have about 1/32" sticking out and that is where I need to be. I've tried using a 1/4" foot and then I needed to have the fabric completely covered by the foot - drove me nuts so I took it off.
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

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