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TOPIC: Accurate 1/4 inch seams

Re: Accurate 1/4 inch seams 19 Jun 2012 17:37 #82757

Thanks for your comment, Kathy! Yes, I enjoyed comingto your guild!

The rulers out there on the market - there is one brand with thick extruded lines on the bottom. Many quilters LOVE this ruler because it minimizes slippage. However, those thick lines mean they are not as accurate as the rulers with the thinner lines. Just think - we ARE talking about thread thickness, and how it can make a big difference!

ANOTHER TIP:

Pay attention if you are using a presser foot with a flange on the right side. Many of us think: "I paid good money for this presser foot - and it is the SILVER BULLET that will give me a perfect seam!" Yet, many quilters press too hard against that flange (a loose separate piece of metal) in their gusto to sew quickly. The flange flexes, and the fabric may climb right up between the foot's edge and the flange itself..... or the fabric buckles, and the seam allowance is no more accurate than it was previously!

When using fine thread, your seam allowance will be more like a true 1/4". When using a standard dressmaking weight, it will be more like a scant (one thread narrower) 1/4".

I really like the Celine Perkins Perfect Piecing seam guide. I also have a similar tool, designed by me and tested by my Lone Star students. It has scant 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2" holes - plus an overlapped series of angles to use when marking your tips and sides of star points for Y seams.

Happy Stitching! Jan
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Re: Accurate 1/4 inch seams 19 Jun 2012 17:04 #82755

  • kathyst2
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Jan, thank for telling us about your method of "including the line" when cutting out, if we want to use a regular weight thread or a full quarter inch seam allowance. That makes so much sense! I have lately been doing the seam allowance test on every project trying to get it right before I start sewing the quilt. So if I cut a hair larger and use a slightly larger thread, that may just even out with a perfect measurement on the sewn piece.
PS I'm a big fan of your Lone Star quilts- you came to our guild in Simi Valley and it was a thrill to see them up close!
Kathy
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Re: Accurate 1/4 inch seams 19 Jun 2012 11:16 #82748

Hi everyone!
Thread thickness, cutting, and seam width ALL account for variances in the seam widths. Many good tips have been provided!

Here is my test BEFORE EVERY PROJECT:
1. Cut 1-1/2" strips of fabric (about 4-5" long). Make sure they are uniform & straight.
2. Sew with your "normal" seam, sewing 3 pieces side-by side.
3. Press the seams open, or to the side - which ever method you will be using in your project.
4. DO NOT measure the seam width itself - measure the WIDTH of the unit across the 3 pieces - this is actually what matters, right?
5. If the sample is too small, your seam is likely 1-2 thread widths too WIDE.
5b. If the sample is too big, your seam is likely 1-2 thread widths too NARROW.
6. Try the test again with fresh fabric, either moving the needle slightly right or left, or lining up in a different place according to your presser foot.
7. The ultra-fine threads such as Bottom Line and Masterpiece, Aurifil and others DO provide a finer seam - however, evaluate the use of the project, and the amount of quilting you plan for the total strength of the thread in the project. For instance, if I am making a wall-hanging or art piece, it won't take a lot of laundering, wear-and-tear. Fine threads will work well. If I plan to do a lot of micro-quilting, the stitching through all layers will support the seams. However, if I plan moderate quilting (resulting in a softer, more pliable quilt), I need a stronger thread in the seams so it will hold up to everyday use and laundering.

FINAL comment - some sewing machines do not permit you to move the needle in fine increments. The feed-dogs may not like to feed the fabrics well when you are sewing an extremely narrow scant 1/4" seam. TRY THIS TECHNIQUE: When cutting, do not line up the raw edge between the cross-hairs of the ruler as you cut, but INCLUDE the PRINTED LINE as part of the cut. (Set the ruler on top of the fabric, allowing the printed line to set OVER the edge of the fabric.) The printed line will provide approximately the width of the thread in the seam, and you may have more consistent success!

Jan Krentz, Author, Designer, Instructor - http://www.jankrentz.com
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Re: Accurate 1/4 inch seams 15 Jun 2012 11:55 #82527

If you are working with a non-computerized sewing machine, the best combination is the perkins ruler and a magnetic seam guide - both of which cost peanuts.

The perkins ruler has an accurate 1/4 seam on it, and there is a small hole. You take the ruler, put it on your machine's bed, drop the needle into the hole (no thread in needle), then lower your presser foot right on top of the ruler, and make it straight.

Next, you take a magnetic seam guide and drop it down on your bed right next to the where the ruler is layer, or, a little ahead of the foot slightly more in to get a scant seam. Once your seam guide is positioned, lift your presser foot, life up the ruler, thread your needle and you should be good to go.

This is a technique for the older, non-computerized machines. There should be no magnetic anything on the bed of a computerized machine. For a computerized machine, you can still use the perkins ruler, except tape post-pad next to the ruler and build it up nice and firm so your fabric doesn't have a chance to move.

The perkins ruler has served me very well on my vintage machines. It is such a big help, and the lady who invented it is some brain.

Pat
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Re: Accurate 1/4 inch seams 01 Jan 2011 15:55 #52548

Thanks for the info on 1/4 inch seams Margo!

May you always have sand in your shoes and a shell in your pocket!
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Re: Accurate 1/4 inch seams 26 Jul 2010 07:06 #48443

  • LadyRags
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Harriet Hargraves suggest 60wt /3 ply thread WHICH IS THIN but terribly strong. ( See her newest books QUILTERS ACADEMY 1: FRESHMAN YEAR. )

I find I need a really good fabric guide to prevent my seam allowance from shifting. I have used all the methods listed above but it usually turns out to be how I feed my fabric into the machine. If you do not start off at the exact spot you need to maintain the 1/4 (scant 1/4 ) inch your seam allowance does not remain true.
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Re: Accurate 1/4 inch seams 25 Jul 2010 13:39 #48432

  • beckyezra
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before i cut the fabric, i starch iron it stiff, so when i cut it is accurate as it can be, then i iron it again, dont use pins but stellito (splg?).
it takes more time but it worth it, i do use the scant 1/4", i put (what you put on the bottom of chairs sort of white velt with sticky side to it) those strips just before the foot, so you have sort of a spore to the fabric.
i hope it will help
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Re: Accurate 1/4 inch seams 03 Jul 2010 13:34 #47431

  • MEMA1
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ladyrags,
I discovered this on my own several years ago. I was making a log cabin heart miniature wall hanging. Everything I did came out wrong. I was so D__N frustrated! I stopped and walked away for a while. When I came back, I looked carefully at the blocks on the log cabin. Every one had the same problem: I veered off to the right at the end of the seam. That part, of course is where we join to the next block. If both of them are off, big discrepancy. I corrected this and like magic!, the wall hanging went together perfectly and, easily. More importantly, I corrected a problem I was having with piecing. The source you quoted is right: the end IS the most important part of the seam. Good tips here, people! Thanks, I was also reminded of some things in making the perfect 1/4 inch seam.
Quiltingly yours,
From the beautiful
Canyon Country of

South-east Utah!
myraung@yahoo.com
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Re: Accurate 1/4 inch seams 30 Jun 2010 10:32 #47200

I had the same problem. I put a I think they are called throat plate with the 1/4 inch mark on it and my seams were accurate. I make sure all the edges are straight before I sew the pieces together. now my blocks measure correctly.
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Re: Accurate 1/4 inch seams 29 Jun 2010 13:26 #47154

  • Margo
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Here is a link to the seam allowance "TEST" that I offer on my Webshots page. Remember..... that unless your pieces are cut correctly in the first place, your seam allowance can't make everything fit exactly. What is important is the size of your PIECES after you have sewn the seams!

http://good-times.webshots.com/album/569415726bHNKHF


It's Not What You Gather, But What You Scatter
That Tells What Kind Of Life You Have Lived !
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Re: Accurate 1/4 inch seams 29 Jun 2010 13:20 #47152

  • MEMA1
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cjbeg,
I agree with you! The Superior Threads Bottom Line has helped me tremendously in more than just 1/4" seams. I LOVE their thread. LOVE it!!!
Quiltingly yours,
From the beautiful
Canyon Country of

South-east Utah!
myraung@yahoo.com
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Re: Accurate 1/4 inch seams 18 Jun 2010 19:14 #46611

  • cjbeg
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I have started using Superior Bottom line for piecing and now the "normal" threads seem so clunky and make a bigger edge when the pieces are pressed. Amazing what a difference it makes. Cheryl
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01 May 2010 07:29 #45235

I do a scant 1/4" seam, and try to concentrate on that last bit of seam as it is easy to wander off a bit. Also use cutting rulers from the same manufacturer as they can vary a bit I believe.
Last Edit: by gloucestershirelady.
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06 Apr 2010 17:55 #44606

  • LadyRags
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Joanne Middleton ( Patchwork School House WAy) had tutorial DVDs where she teaches perscision piecing...

She says most inaccurate 1/4 inch seams result when we chain piece ... the act of getting the next set we take our eyes/ mind off the last little bit of the seam which then tends to wander off.

She says this is acctually the most important part of the seam and we should acctually guide the fabric with a stilletto til we are off the fabric... stop and then get the next set of patchwork... making sure we start the next patch accurately.

I found her 7 set DVD classes invaluable for improving or a least highlighting what I do wrong.... KNOWING often leads to improvement and correcting the problems.


Anna
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