For those new to quilting it is really important to learn how to sew the perfect 1/4 inch seam. This can be done with the help of special tools, although accuracy is part technique and that takes a little practice!
Hows to sew the perfect 1/4 inch:
Lets start by defining some of the commonly used terms;
1/4 ” seam= This is the distance between the raw fabric edge and the stitching line
A scant 1/4″ = A thread or two less than a 1/4 inch to accommodate the thread of the stitching line and the fabric, which take up space in the seam.
For most domestic sewing machines you can purchase a 1/4″ foot specific to the make and model of your machine, which has a guide bar attached to the foot. This helps guide the fabric as it passes through the machine.
If you don’t have 1/4 inch foot you can make your own guide using painters/masking tape.
Cut 7 or 8 pieces of tape about 4-5 inches in length, then stack them on top of each other to form a thickness of about 2mm.
Stick the stack of tape along the 1/4″ mark shown on your sewing machine. When you run the fabric through the machine it will butt up against the tape allowing you to sew a consistent straight line.
Checking your precise 1/4″
Now you have your guide it is important to ensure that your machine is sewing an exact 1/4″ There are a couple of ways to check this,
Place a ruler on your machine plate lining up the edge with your guide and slowly lower the needle until it touches the 1/4″ mark. If it doesn’t you will need to adjust your needle to the right. This can be done on most modern computerised domestic machines.
If you are lucky the stitch line should sew along the adjacent line. If not, adjust your needle position.
Cut x3 1.5″ strips of fabric about 6 “long Sew them together along the long edges and press.
Check your first 1/4 ” seam with a ruler.
When you have sewn all the strips together measure the width of the centre strip. It should measure exactly 1 “
I hope these tips help you sew a perfect 1/4 inch seam. Accuracy makes all the difference so its worth getting it right from the outset.
So now you know how to sew the perfect 1/4 inch seam. Next time we will look at how to press your fabric to ensure those perfect seams stay that way!