Setting up a quarter inch seam allowance


What is a Girl to do when it snows?


She does what any sensible WOMAN would do, she QUILTS. But today is the day of my Mystery Class at Elaine’s Quilty Shop in Hadley MI. there were things I had to do to get ready… like load the car with my sewing machine… Thank goodness , for garages. I do not plow the drive we have a guy come with a snow plow, so hopefully it will be done by the time I get home. I back up into the turn around and headed out.

I am getting a head of myself. What I did do last night along with preparing my supplies and fabric. I set up my scant quarter inch in anticipation of sewing a lot of strips and other types of patches. (I could tell there would be strips because we had some many width of fabric , to cut prior to the class.)
In order to set up my “ painter tape seam guide” I got out one of my favorite tools the Perfect Piecing Seam Guide / for scant 1/ 4 inch seam. … Perfect Piecing Seam Guide


Perfect Piecing Seam Guide


This little guide will help you set up your painter tapes seam allowance guide. You hand turn your needle until it goes through the little hole in the yellow plastic. YOU then line up your painter’s tape so that extends down your table or support. This allows you to feed your fabric through and maintain a straight seam. This is helpful to me since I have some nerve issues in my dominate hand. This really helps when you cannot move your needle to the right or left on a basic/ class machine. I also like using the “LITTLE FOOT” as my machine foot.

* ….. LITTLE FOOT sewing machine foot… after market… It works


Presencia Thread 60 weight / 3 ply is my favorite piecing thread.
I love the 60 weight / 3 ply thread because it is VERY STRONG but thin enough not to add bulk to the seam allowance. This weight and ply of thread is recommended by Harriet Hargraves in her Quilt Academy series of books. I am finding that this thread works really well at helping me sew accurate size blocks.


The second technique that I use to maintain a SCANT quarter inch is to move my needle on my ‘GOOD’ machine to the right one notch. I use the standard quarter inch foot that comes with my machine. I frequently set up the painter’s tape seam guide, when I plan to sew a lot of patches together. It helps a lot.

I know this is basic stuff to a lot of people but I think the basic are important to review. I lot of newbies need these tips. The reason I go through all the trouble of setting up a scant quarter inch for patchwork, is I get more consistently accurate finished blocks. My blocks now measure what they are suppose to measure. A 12-1 / 2 inch block measures 12-1 / 2 inches. It makes my life / my quilting so much less stressful.

It is time for me to go and podcast. I think I have a good one in my soul since I just finished that Mystery class. …. So stay tuned.

Happy Quilting, NONNIE

Easiest way to find me is to GOOGLE ME at NONNIE’S QUILTING DREAMS Nonnie’s Blog My Blog

email me at:
<span style="font-size:

Sunday, January 30, 2011:

Unfortunately the internet is very slllllllllllow this morning, do not know why. May have something to do with excessive downloads / over our fair use limits…… So I am spending the morning sewing. Such a hardship. Plan to upload my pictures when my internet speed is back to normal.

2 thoughts on “Setting up a quarter inch seam allowance

    1. Robyn,

      My next podcast is ready to post but I will send this to you for now and I will try and explain it.

      To achieve a scant quarter inch you move your needle one click to the right on your machine. Problem is that not all machines are adjustable and that is why many quilters go to all kind of lengths to acheive that SCANT QUARTER INCH.

      The goal is to get all your blocks to fit together. The theory for why this does not happen is that each step in constructing a block tends to decrease the block size. Some people feel that if you are sewing CONSITANTLY that is good enough. Problem comes when you sew for a block exchange or if you sew on different days you tend to be inconsistent in your block sizes. TRYING TO GET mis-sized blocks together can lead to headache, tears or in my case NAUGHTY WORDS. ( I do not want my grandson to hear them so I try and be accurate with my sewing. After all it is easier to do it correctly then to fix a lot of goofy wrong size blocks.)

      A 6-1/2 inch block should be able to be matched up to other 6-1/2 inch blocks and work together without problems or needing to fudge. ALL MISTAKES IN QUILTING GET COMPOUNDED.

        first step… cut accurately…..
        second step…. sew accurately…
        third step … press ( not iron) accurately

      I use the tape guard to help me get a straight seam. Without it I sew crooked.

      The scant quarter inch seam: If you sew dead on a quarter inch when you press the fabric and it rolls over the thread … you LOOSE a scant amount but each seam’s loss compounds with the other seams in the block so by the time you are finished sewing your block can be 1/8 inch smaller….

      If they are ALL YOUR BLOCKS are that much smaller YOU are still good to go. But if on one day you sewed scant another day… dead on on a second day…. your blocks sizes can be totally off when you go to sew them together, then there will be problems. If you work with half and quarter square triangles your points get chopped off. If you work with intricate blocks… with many seams… those get even wonkier.

      Some of the purest believe in sewing dead on and strive to acheive that ( Sally Collins, Mastering Machine Piecing. Marsha McClosey, Lessons in Machine Piecing, and Harriet Hargraves, THE QUILTER’s Academy Series, all state you should sew EXACT quarter inch seams. They tell you how in their books. Some of them sell you special rulers and templates to help you achieve the perfect blocks. ( MARKETING) I have and have read all their books and they are excellant for learning to achieve the perfect size block. They all talk about exact quarter inch. Harriet and Carrie Hargrave who has the NEWEST books on the market , they talk about the very basic information and why they believe what they believe. They recommend the 60 wt / three ply thread.

      I use to use 50 wt / two ply thread I have now switched to 60 wt / 3 ply thread… very strong but very thin. It has helped my so much and I highly recommend switching. Get the small spool and see if you like it.. but I bought the big cones. ( It is equal to getting a spool and a half free / more thread for less money in the long run.)

      I feel it is important to know how to acheive accurate size blocks and that said I only use the techniques when it is important… ie HEIRLOOM or SHOW QUILTS. The rest of the time I am in the MAKE IT BIG AND WHACK IT OFF CROUD because LIFE IS TOO SHORT. I find if the blocks have square or rectangular patches to the out side I make it a scant bigger and square up to correct size. I think quilting is more forgiving then some quilters make it. They get all hung up in the details and never get to the finished product. ENJOY THE PROCESS IS MY NEW MOTTO.


      I hope this helps… if you have specific questions feel free to let me write back. And thank you for the lead in to my next podcast

      Hope this helps and does not make you more confused.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s