Thursday Tip #5

{Thursday Tip: A regular weekly feature sharing my quilting tips. There are no rules in quilting, these are just the things that work for me and might help you. There are no quilt police, so use them as a guide; no ones watching :) There is no wrong way to do anything......just relax, experiment, learn, create and have fun. }
It is very important to obtain a consistent 1/4" seam when piecing blocks/units for quilting. Ideally, you want to avoid losing points or having units finish too small or too large, which will not match up when you finalize your block or quilts.
The 1/4" seam allowance, ensures the least amount of bulk on the back of the quilt, keeping everything nice and flat and makes quilting a lot easier. It is also the standard measurement designers use in their patterns to achieve the optimum results.
Here's a few tips to help you achieve and maintain, that perfect 1/4" seam:

  • Ensure your machine is fitted with a 1/4" pressure foot and check its accuracy regularly. Most new machines come with this foot included but if not, it is definitely worth the investment.
  • To check its accuracy, slide your ruler under the pressure foot so that the needle is in the centre of the 1/4" line; the edge of the ruler to the right of the needle. Turn the wheel of your machine until the needle sits on the ruler and then lower your presser foot. The edge of the foot, should match the edge of the ruler.
  • Using the same process above, mark the 1/4" seam allowance with masking or washi tape by positioning the tape against the ruler. Use a few pieces of tape to form a ridge for your fabric to butt up against.
  • To check consistency, cut 3 x 1 1/2" x 5" strips and sew them together along the long edges. Press seams and then check the size of the centre strip; it should measure 1" exactly and consistently.
  • If you are still concerned, it is a good idea to have your service agent reposition the needle to the default setting.
  • When sewing smaller pieces, I like to mark the 1/4" sewing line using my clear seam guide, to ensure consistency. I also use this method when hand piecing.
Once you have prepared for and mastered the 1/4" seam, your block units will have sharp points and crisp corners and everything will fit together perfectly when its time to assemble the block or quilt.

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