Quarter Inch Seams

It is important to be able to sew a precious 1/4" seam to construct an accurate block. The instructions below will help you achieve this.

Do you get accurate quarter inch seams?

It is important to be able to sew an accurate 1/4" seam. For many machines, you can purchase a machine foot that is exactly 1/4" from the needle to the side of the foot. This is a very useful tool. Many of the older machines have a foot that is an exact 1/4" so please check and measure the feet that are with your machine before you purchase one.

quarterfoot

1/4" foot makes it easy to sew an accurate 1/4" seam

If you do not have one of these or cannot obtain one for your machine, you need to measure and mark the 1/4" distance from your needle so that your seam is accurate. Several methods are explained below.

1. Sometimes you can adjust the needle position and use the edge of another presser foot.

needleposition

The needle has been moved to the right. The green line indicates a measurement of 1/4" between needle and edge of the presser foot

Remember, this does have to be exact for your piecing to work accurately.

2. Measure 1/4" from the needle; then either mark the distance on the top of your presser foot with a permanent marker OR stick a piece of tape at this distance onto the bed of your machine. The latter method is not so good as sometimes the fabric will cover the tape.

markfootmethod

Use a permanent marker to mark top of presser foot,
1/4" from needle

tapemethod

Stick tape to your sewing machine bed, 1/4" from needle.
The green line indicates 1/4" from needle to side of tape

Testing Your 1/4" Seam

Make a sample test by sewing together four 2" squares of scrap fabric in a row using accurate 1/4" seams. Press the seams to one side and measure through all squares across the strip. It should measure 6 1/2" if you have done this accurately.

accuracytest

Four 2" squares sewn together with 1/4" seams gives a measurement of 6" plus 1/2" seam allowance, totaling 6 1/2"

If your strip is not accurate, adjust your 1/4" measurement and try again. For correct piecing, it is vital to sew a 1/4" seam accurately to avoid having trouble joining adjacent seams and matching points. If you can join eight 2" squares together correctly the length of the strip would equal 12 1/2". If your seams are all off by 1/16", your piece would be 1" short of the required measurement. Imagine how difficult it would be to attach this to a 12 1/2" strip.

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