3 September 2014

Top 10 Tips for New Quilters - 1/4" Seam

Here we are with Week 3 of the Top 10 Tips for new Quilters -  1/4" Seam
For the complete line up of tips, please see this page.

Following accurate rotary cutting, the accuracy of your 1/4" seam is the next step in accomplishing proper sized blocks.  If your seams are not accurate, your block will not turn out to be the proper size.  A seam greater than 1/4", will result in an undersized block and a seam that is smaller than 1/4", will result in an oversized block.

Some patterns call for a scant 1/4" seam.  This means the seam will be just slightly smaller than 1/4", by the width of a pencil line, or line of stitching.

There are various ways of guiding your work while sewing seams.  Some like to use a mark on the bed of the sewing machine as a guide.  On my machine, there are markings and measurements on both the bobbin cover and the faceplate.

Some like to use a piece of tape as a guide.

Some like to use a stack of sticky notes as a guide.

And some like to use the edge of the presser foot.  I like to use my 1/4" presser foot with guide.

This special presser foot has a thin piece of metal riveted to the edge of the presser foot.  The fabric sits against this metal strip, guiding it straight as you sew your seam.

Whatever method you choose, it is wise to test the accuracy of your 1/4" seam.  To test your accuracy, cut three lengths of 2" wide strips.  Sew them together along the length of the strips and press the seams.  Then measure your center strip.  It should be 1.5" wide.

If the center strip is smaller than 1.5", your seams are too big.  My center strip was slightly small, so my seams were just a bit too big.  If your seams are inaccurate, make adjustments to correct this problem and retest your seams again.

If possible, adjust your needle position.  My machine displays 4.5 when my needle is in the center position.

The automatic needle position for a 1/4" seam sets the needle to 8.3

I can increase this number up to 9.0, my needle is placed closer to the guide on my 1/4" presser foot, and this will result in a smaller seam width.

After adjusting my needle to 9.0 my seams turned out to be spot on!

Have you ever wondered how much difference an inaccurate seam can make?  I made the exact same quilt twice - one using automatic needle position for a 1/4" seam setting the needle to 8.3 and one with the needle set at a self adjusted 9.0 position.  YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE THE DIFFERENCE!  Click here to see those quilts and what a difference that self setting made.

Are you intimated by the 1/4" seam?  How do you overcome the fear and conquer that seam?

If you have any other tips or advice to share, please leave a comment!

And remember to.....

Keep On Quilting On!


Michelle@factotum-of-arts.com said...

I have switched over to a Janome recently and find I need to use the 9.0 setting with my guide foot too. I can still be a little out which is frustrating but I was talking to ladies who were in my class last month who recommend moving down in fabric thread to 40 instead of 50 and it will probably elevate that slight difference.

Great post!!

Katherine said...

Great tips, Lorna! I do all my piecing on a vintage Singer, so I use a seam guide which attaches to the bed of the machine. I always do test samples to make sure I have that guide placed to give a scant 1/4".

Vicki said...

Thanks! That 1/4" can get real tricky sometimes.

margaret said...

I have a quarter inch foot but sometime i manage to stray a bit, mine does not have the guard on like yours so maybe I will have to look into one of those, thanks for the handy tips you have shared today

Nancy said...

My advice that I need to follow/remember - -Don't sew with a cat bothering you while sewing! She will sit on the material as it is moving and really throws off the seam allowance or quilting line.

CeLynn said...

I usually test my seams with a seam guide,but I like the method you use because I think it is probably more accurate. So I will be giving that a try next time,thanks for the tip!

Rebekah said...

Great tips! I wish my machine had a foot with a guide like that - that seems really helpful. I also need to remember to retest my 1/4" every so often, even when I'd rather just get busy piecing.

Jo Ferguson said...

Thanks Lorna, those were great tips.

SusanfromKentucky said...

I just found this post. How eye-opening! I had no idea I could move the needle further over than the 1/4" button set it. Thank you sew much!!

Miriam M. Colombo said...

Muy buenos y utiles tus consejos Lorna. Siempre se aprende algo bueno. Mil gracias por compartirlo....!!!

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