How to Check your Quarter Inch Seam

Kimberlee Tanner

How to Check Your Quarter Inch Seam

When working on a quilting project, sometimes things just don’t go as planned. Seams don’t line up correctly or blocks come out the wrong size. When these things happen, it might be as simple of a solution as checking your 1/4 inch seam allowance. This week we’ll talk about how to do that and some ways to correct it.


Check your Seam

The first thing to do before making any adjustments to your quarter inch marks is to see if your quarter inch seam is accurate. This is as simple as sewing two pieces of fabric together. Pick a couple small squares, such as two 3″ square, and sew down one side. Afterwards, press the seam and measure to see if the new piece is the right size. It should equal the size of the two pieces before sewing minus 1/2″. So, if you started with 2 3″ pieces, sewn they should measure 5 1/2″. If they measure correctly, you are good to go!

If you find that it doesn’t measure correctly, don’t despair, you can easily correct the problem.

How to Correct and Mark Your Seam

Solution #1: If the 1/4 inch seam isn’t correct, you can simply mark out a new one. This can be done with masking tape, washi tape, or painters tape. These are easy solutions that can be removed later if you’d like. To determine where to place the tape, draw a quarter inch seam on a piece of paper, put it under your needle and put your needle through the paper, directly on the line. After that is marked, use the tape to mark down the side of the paper.

Solution #2: Use a 1/4 inch foot. Most manufacturers have a special 1/4″ foot available. The edge of the foot will measure exactly what you need. Some options even have guides along the edge to line your fabric up against.

Solution #3: If you find that your 1/4 inch seam is slightly off, oftentimes you can adjust the position of your needle one tick to the right or left to make up for any shortcomings the marks on your machine have.

Scant Quarter Inch Seams

One other thing we want to discuss regarding 1/4″ seams is a scant 1/4″ seam. When a pattern calls for a scant 1/4″ seam, they want you to sew it just slightly short of your 1/4″ mark. Scant quarter inch seams take into account the space that the fold of the fabric and thread will take up.

When we’ve been working on a hobby for awhile, sometimes we forget about the foundational things that can help us improve our skills and build confidence. Going back and double checking your quarter inch seam can help improve accuracy and your finished quilts.

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