Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Back to School Blog Hop

Thanks to Sam Hunter for putting this great Blog hop together....
Having taught so many improv classes, one question always comes up...

When you improv piece, you don't have to worry about 1/4," right?

wrong. I always use a 1/4" seam.
Anytime I sew I sew a 1/4" seam...  (unless a pattern stated otherwise)

Just like in any piecing, a 1/4" is valuable and important...  Think about it like driving a car, Do you want be swerving in and out the yellow and white lines on the road?
(in sewing, driving  1/8" to 1/4" to 1/2"?)

No. You want to keep it straight... 1/4" all the way...

It's the same, sewing improv or regular piecing. 
If you want you fabrics to lay flat, learn to sew a 1/4" seam.

So, let's look at that Quarter inch seam...

I have found that many people are not aware of where to place their fabric under there presser foot for a 1/4" seam.  So let's find it, shall we?

I have this hand 1" acrylic ruler, 
I can place it up to my needle, and see where the 1/4" line appears... It is just shy of the #7 line on machine.
So if I sew with my raw edges just showing over the edge of my presser foot, I can sew it, and test it, by measuring it again with the acrylic ruler.

Every machine can be slightly different... So it is valuable to know this info. 

Regular piecing in quilting:
Patterns are most often drawn with a 1/4" seam allowance. (Unless otherwise stated)
If you are sewing at a 1/8" or 3/8", your blocks will not come out the right size... 
Your points won't match easily.

I hear this over and over, "how do you get your points to match?"
Sewing a quarter inch seam, will give you amazing results.

Another way to look at a 1/4" mark to make your 1/4" piecing correct...  When you are piecing, and  you have (in the situation above) a square and a diamond... Where do you line it up?
Do you lay the point raw edge to raw edge?

Nope.   ( underneath, you won't have any fabric when you start sewing because of the angle)
Let's look at this below...

When you have an angle, and a straight edge... your fabrics need to overlap by a small amount... Now.  Many times when I'm teaching people know the right words to say... they say, " it should stick out a 1/4"...

Well, not really.
What you are actually looking for, is where the TWO fabrics intersect when laying right sides together. Where they intersect, that point, should be a 1/4". That purple tiny triangle you see is not actually sticking out a 1/4", it's less then that, but where they "MEET"  ( which you can see with the ruler laying there, is exactly a 1/4". THAT is your sewing line... Your quarter inch seam allowance...
 So when you sew that now....

...and you open up your fabrics, they meet exactly...

Oh, one more thing I learned from teaching is many people don't know the term, "DOG EAR"...
That little triangle that sticks up over your sewn seam, is the dog ear... you can trim that off, so the seam stay flat, and that little extra bit of fabric, won't get curled up in your seams and make that bulky thingy in the back of your nicely pressed blocks....

And the same thing happens at the other end... 

OK, makes sense right?
Let's look at it again, so it's crystal clear...

Let's go to the extremes...

This image shows the fabrics intersecting at 1/2".. that is not the 1/4" seam allowance we want... This sort of seam will make you blocks smaller then the planned finished size..

This image shows the fabrics intersecting at 1/8" aprox...shy of a 1/4"... not the 1/4" seam allowance we want... Sewing this seam will make your blocks finish larger then the planned finish size...

A perfect 1/4"... This works for any block, that has two different angles meeting... it happens in HST's ( half square triangles ) Diamonds, triangles, curves etc...

So! Your best bet for great results in your quilt piecing, is to learn where your 1/4" is on your machine.  

Have a hard time keeping your fabric under you needle, in the right place? 
Find your 1/4"(as shown above, first image) , grab some painters tape, 
and run it all way across the throat of your machine... ( from the needle straight towards you...)
Then as you sew, you let the fabric ride the edge of the tape...

other possible issues could be:
 quality of your machine, 
Are you pulling you fabrics when you sew? (to the left or right)
Do you have a table that is flush to your sewing throat? Draping the fabric over the edge of the machine, can fight you as well, when sewing a 1/4" seam...

15 Minutes of Play, right?
15 Minutes to learn, practice and master your 1/4" inch seam.


Don't forget to trim your dog ears... woof!

Check out the other back to school sewing tips:

Sept 1: Peta Minerof-Bartos of PetaQuilts – So, Does that Diagonal Method for a Pieced Backing Really Work
Sept 2: Cheryl Sleboda of – The Quilter’s Knot
Sept 3: Teresa Coates of Crinkle Dreams – The Importance of Pressing
Sept 4: Cath Hall of Wombat Quilts – Color Coding for Paper-piecing
Sept 5: Sam Hunter of Hunter’s Design Studio – How to Calculate and Cut Bias Binding
Sept 6: Melanie McNeil of Catbird Quilt Studio – Credit where Credit is Due
Sept 7: Mandy Leins of Mandalei Quilts – How to Keep a Perfect 1/4” Seam Between Different Machines
Sept 8: Rose Hughes of Rose Hughes – Fast Pieced Applique
Sept 9: Megan Dougherty of The Bitchy Stitcher – The Care and Feeding of the Domestic Sewing Machine
Sept 10: Lynn Krawczyk of Smudged Design Studio – Make a Mobile Art Kit
Sept 11: Susan Beal of West Coast Crafty – Log Cabin 101
Sept 12: Sarah Lawson of Sew Sweetness – Zipper Tips
Sept 13: Jane Victoria of Jolly and Delilah – Matching Seams
Sept 14: Jemelia Hilfiger of JemJam – Garment Making Tips and Tricks
Sept 15: Ebony Love of LoveBug Studios – Curved Piecing Without Pins
Sept 16: Misty Cole of Daily Design Wall – Types of Basting
Sept 17: Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams – Setting your Seams
Sept 18: Christina Cameli of A Few Scraps – Joining Quilted Pieces by Machine
Sept 19: Bill Volckening of WonkyWorld – The Importance of Labels
Sept 20: Jessica Darling of Jessica Darling – How to Make a Quilt Back
Sept 21: Debbie Kleve Birkebile of Mountain Trail Quilt Treasures – Perfectly Sized No-Wave Quilt Borders
Sept 22: Heather Kinion of Heather K is a Quilter – Baby Quilts for Baby Steps
Sept 23: Michelle Freedman of Design Camp PDX – TNT: Thread, Needle, Tension
Sept 24: Kathy Mathews of Chicago Now Quilting Sewing Creation – Button Holes
Sept 25: Jane Shallala Davidson of Quilt Jane – Corner Triangle Methods
Sept 27: Cristy Fincher of Purple Daisies Quilting – The Power of Glue Basting
Sept 28: Catherine Redford of Catherine Redford – Change the Needle!
Sept 29: Amalia Teresa Parra Morusiewicz of Fun From A to Z – French Knots, – ooh la la!
Sept 30: Victoria Findlay Wolfe of Victoria Findlay Wolfe Quilts – How to Align Your Fabrics for Dog Ears
October 1: Tracy Mooney of 3LittleBrds – Teaching Kiddos to Sew on a Sewing Machine
October 2: Trish Frankland, guest posting on Persimon Dreams – The Straight Stitch Throat Plate
October 3: Flaun Cline of I Plead Quilty – Lining Strips Up


  1. Thanks for the simple, clear photos and the crystal clear explanations. I appreciate that. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for sharing that, Victoria! So invaluable. You rock!


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