“Stitch with a quarter inch seam.” Sounds simple doesn’t it? So, why are we often sobbing at the sewing machine while piecing our blocks? Seasoned quilters know if seam allowances are off, block pieces will not match-up no matter what you do. That seemingly simple quarter inch seam allowance is incredibly important. Often we don’t notice that our seam allowances are off until its time to match points and corners to make those beautifully aligned blocks and rows our quilting hearts desire. Beginners, if you’ve found yourself throwing your mis-shapen blocks across the room, this may fix your problems! Craftsy has a terrific post that addresses our Quarter Inch Seam issues in a three step, straight forward manner.
Quarter Inch Seam Solution #1: Use a Quarter Inch Presser Foot. Even with a Quarter Inch Foot, you’ll want to do some checking, as outlined in the Craftsy post, to make sure you know where your fabric edge should line up for that perfect quarter inch. There are lots of feet available on the market, but when it comes to something like an accurate Quarter Inch Seam, I really recommend purchasing the foot made by your machine’s manufacturer. They know the exact specifications for your machine and I think you’ll be happiest with a Quarter Inch foot you purchase from a dealer.
Quarter Inch Seam Solution #2: Use tape to mark where to line up the edge of your fabric on your sewing machine. There are many tapes made for this purpose like Omnigrid’s Glow-Line Tape that do not leave a residue on your machine. If you’d like a little higher edge to run your fabric along, you can cut a piece of foam tape to add on top of your non-residue tape.
Quarter Inch Seam Solution #3: Measure your already stitched seam allowance. Oh, my, yes! Be sure to do this whether you are using a quarter inch foot or the tape method outlined above. Remember the saying “measure twice, cut once”? In quilting it might be better said “measure twice, measure twice again, cut confidently”. We’re after fabulous finished results and a little time spent now will pay off in a huge way when your quilt is done!
Just to make sure you feel fully equipped to make a perfect Quarter Inch Seam, I have a few more hints for you. This is one area, where I think “more is better” definitely applies!
Measure Your Feet!
- If you do not own and cannot budget for a quarter inch foot right now, see if you can work with one of the feet you do own. I was taught to sew by my mom and in her world, she thought that a quarter inch was always the distance from the needle to the edge of a standard presser foot. Not, so on my machine, but maybe it is on yours. Measure and see and if that doesn’t work out, try the other feet you own. One of them may work quite well for you.
Practice Makes Perfect!
- Before you cut into the fabric you’ve chosen for your quilt masterpiece, use a few scraps to try out your personal stitching of a quarter inch seam. Then try it again. And . . .maybe one more time. Get the “feel” of a quarter inch seam, before you start your quilt and you’ll be a much happier quilter. Click here for a PDF that suggests a sequence of practice.
- Making the perfect quarter inch seam won’t matter at all if your pieces are not cut accurately. Slow down, pet the cat, sip your latte – whatever it takes to help you focus on what you’re doing and make sure your cuts are accurate. If you need to practice making your rotary cutter your best friend, do it now!
Mind Your Scant Seam!
- What?!?! You mean we’ve just mastered a quarter inch seam and now they want something different? Yes, many patterns call for a Scant (less than) Quarter Inch Seam, so read your pattern thoroughly before you cut or sew. You’ll often see this in designs that use teeny pieces. Click here to watch an uber-helpful YouTube video before you start.
Okay, its time to conquer that Quarter Inch Seam! Start with Craftsy’s post by clicking here. Now scroll to the top of this post, read over the hints again, watch the video, download the PDF, follow the suggestions and that’s it – you are now a certified Quarter Inch Seam Master!
About the Author
Annette Millard began sewing at the age of three, made her first dress at ten and is always happiest with needle, fabric and thread in her hands. Annette feels very privileged to have spent most of her work life in the sewing industry and loves teaching, making her own handmade wardrobe and writing about sewing. She spent over ten years as the newsletter and web site content writer for the Pacific Northwest's largest locally-owned family of fabric stores and is now thrilled to have the opportunity to share her passion for sewing with the Sewing Secrets community.