Getting a perfect quarter inch is not always an easy task. It often goes like that, you start quilting then suddenly realize on mid-stitch that the edges are not in the perfect quarter shape, myself included. When you’re quilting for the perfect quarter-inch the next time, there are some steps you can follow to get satisfactory results. So, let’s get started on it!
The Quarter Inch Foot
Not all the quarter-inch feet on the market will give you a perfect quarter inch. That’s because the foot is designed for a certain sewing machine, the needle drop position, and its throat space is designed for that certain brand. So, the first step is, make sure to get a quarter-inch foot that’s designed for your sewing machine (Example: A Singer’s quarter inch foot for a Singer sewing machine)
You should always get a quarter-inch foot that is designed for your sewing machine, that’s an important thing to take note of if you want a perfect quarter-inch on a sewing machine.
Seam Guides (Magnetic or budget-friendly masking tape)
Quilting is a complicated art that requires years of practice to master the techniques needed to quilt well. It’s important for every quilter to create blocks on their own machine because this will help them learn exactly what each fabric needs when it comes time for sewing those strips together into full-size quilts. The quilter’s quarter inch seam width should be consistent and accurate, that’s when seam guides take place,
Seam guides are a great help when you’re using a quarter-inch foot. You can get the perfect quarter-inch by using a magnetic seam guide(PS: Use a quilting ruler or quilt top to measure seam allowance) which is usually provided with your non-computerized sewing machine or you can just buy a masking tape which is a great budget-friendly alternative.
A magnetic guide should be placed a little higher than the foot pressure plate at all times and in front of the feed dogs. You can tell if you are using the right amount of tension on your sewing machine by holding two fingers each pinched between two quilt blocks at the same time. If there’s a little gap when they’re pinched, you need to adjust your foot pressure plate slightly lower so that it holds tension in the fabric better (therefore giving you a perfect quarter inch). Never tug on the thread or other objects with this area of your foot.
Start and End with Scraps
You might’ve known that by now if you own a sewing machine, the patchwork seam tends to pucker or create incomplete stitches at the beginning and end of your sewing. So I suggest that you use scrap fabric at the start and end of your seam. Sew the scrap first, then the main fabric, lastly the scrap fabric again.
After sewing, just cut off the scraps from your fabric. Although you might be tempted to rush through that last step of the quilting process, taking it slowly and meticulously will guarantee a beautiful finish. Take that into note as well.
To get a smoother texture, wash your fabric in cold water and tumble dry it on low heat. This will give you a smooth surface without wrinkles or folds. It’ll greatly enhance your sewing experience and you’ll be less likely to encounter errors. Pre-washing the fabric will remove any dirt and eliminate the wavy texture of the fabric. Moreover, washing will also eliminate any oil or grease that might have been left on the fabric.
Why should you get a smoother texture you say? To create perfect seams, the smooth fabric will work better than the bumpy texture. Moreover, the smooth fabric will help you to avoid the puckering of the seams.
Ironing (Pressing for success)
Piecing must be done with precision if you’re looking for a perfect quarter-inch (especially when you’re using units like squares, rectangles, and triangles), and to get that perfection, every seam needs to be pressed before piecing. Make sure to iron all the seams so that you get a fresh and smooth texture and to avoid a crooked seam or a puckering effect on your seam.
When you press with a hot iron, the high seams will fold slightly into the desired shape.
For those “backward” seams that fold on the right, you can turn them before ironing to correct this. One trick is using an extra scrap piece of fabric and making a patch for it so that if one part doesn’t go up straight when pressed, it won’t affect the whole seam as well. You may have to practice a bit but it’s better to do that than having puckering seams. I highly recommend using both the pressing and patching techniques through your fabric might be fine without either of them.
When pressing after piecing, air will fill in any wrinkles or dimples because all fibers are pressed together while they’re taut so when you press with an iron, those folds become smaller.
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You sew where you look
Find a consistent point a quarter inch in front of the needle for straighter stitching. Most modern sewing machines have needle position adjustments. If your needle is high, move it lower to sew a seam accurately; if it is low, adjust the position of the needle so that you are just outside of its 1/4″ mark when in position for straight stitching. Also, if the needle is on the left or right side, center it.
It’s quite irritating when you don’t get the perfect quarter-inch after all the efforts, this article might help you to achieve better results. Note that it takes practice and time for perfection. Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions in the comment section. We’ll be glad to help you out!