Tips & Tricks

Quilting Tips: Seam Allowance

Hello Quilters!  We’re starting a series of tips and techniques over the next few weeks. These are shared from our Quilt Blocks instructions, where so many quilters get their start. So if you’re a beginner or have some experience, join us to improve your skills.

Quilt Tips: 1/4" Seams

First up is to test drive your machine and check the seam allowance. Don’t skip this step!  Even with a bladed ¼” foot, do you smash the fabric up against the blade, or ride next to it? That 1/16” decision will make a difference.  Machines also have needles that adjust, feed dogs that grab unevenly, thread and bobbin tension that varies, and let’s not even talk about eyesight, bifocals and reading glasses! So if you want a 12 ½” square block at the end of the day, check your machine, okay.

Accurate Seam Allowances:  All seams should be ¼”. Ensure accuracy in your quilt by establishing a ¼” seam allowance guide for your sewing machine. Here’s how to test:

Cut three 1 ½” x 5” strips.

Quilt Tips: 1/4" Seams

Match the raw edges exactly and pin.  Now sew a 1/4″ seam, a straight line, from beginning to end.

Quilt Tips: 1/4" Seams

Press, open up and measure – it should be 2 ½” x 5”.  If not exact, remove the stitches and try again!

Add the last strip. Press. The size is now 3 ½” x 5”. The center strip should be 1”. The ends (top and bottom) should match too.

Quilt Tips: 1/4" Seams

If your sewing machine guide isn’t accurate, use painter’s tape to place a guide line. Adjust so that everything you sew will have the correct seam allowance.  Also, if you moved the needle position, note the stitch length and needle position right on the tape.


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