Getting an Accurate ¼” Seam Allowance

Posted by on November 7, 2016

Sewing an accurate ¼” seam while piecing quilts is vital to your success.  Even a very slight difference can determine whether the pieces of the quilt fit together or not.  Consider a row of 16 simple 4 ½” squares.  If sewn together with an accurate ¼” seam the row will measure 64 ½”.  If the seam is 1/16” too small, it will measure 66 5/8”.  A seam 1/16” too big will measure 62 5/8”. 

There are tools to help the quilter achieve accurate ¼” seams such as ¼” feet, seam guides on the throat plate of the machine and seam guides that are purchased as an accessory.  It is best to test the tool you choose to use.  Here’s how.

Accurately cut three strips of fabric 1 ½” X 5”.  Now sew the trips together using your tool that measures the ¼” seam.  Set the seams by pressing on top of the stitches you have just sewn with the center strip on top.  Press the seam allowance towards the middle strip.  The center strip should measure 1” and the entire pieced section should measure 3 ½” X 5”.  If the measurements are smaller, the tool needs to be adjusted to sew a smaller seam and if it is bigger adjusted to sew a larger seam.  It may require you to move your needle over one way of the other.  (Make sure the needle will clear your presser foot and needle plate.)   You may need to use a strip of blue tape positioned to help you guide your quilt pieces along a ¼” seam allowance.   This is an important test and will give great results when you get that accurate ¼” seam allowance.

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