Patchwork and piecing require an immense amount of precision, especially when it comes to sewing a perfect quarter inch seam for quilting! These tips will help you learn how to get an accurate seam allowance for quilting projects every time. Once you work through these steps once, you should be good to go for perfect seams, and you’ll know exactly how to check them if you’re ever unsure.
I’ve been sewing and making quilts for years, but truth be told I’ve still been perfecting my 1/4″ seam. In my opinion, getting perfect seams is one of the most tricky parts of quilting, but also one of the most rewarding when you open up your seams and see points coming together ever so precisely!
If you prefer watching these tips in action, check out this video:
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Learn How to Get Perfect Quarter Inch Seams
1. Start with Accurate Cutting
There’s really no way around it: accurate patchwork seams start with accurate cutting, or to phrase it differently: it’s near impossible to get perfect blocks when you start with wonky fabric pieces! I personally get my most precise quilts when I use my AccuQuilt fabric cutting machine to cut my pieces. (Learn more about AccuQuilt here.)
If a fabric die cutting machine isn’t for you, make sure you get really good with rotary cutter and rulers, because the best way to ensure precision is to start off with precise pieces!
2. Use a Guide Foot for Perfect Quarter Inch Seams
When sewing your quilt pieces together, it helps to have a foot with a 1/4″ line or guide. I personally have been using the one shown in these images that had a line marking the 1/4″ point, but when I first began quilting I used a foot with an actual guide on it that really helped! Using seam tape on your machine is also a good option, so you have something to line your fabric up with to make sure it is straight before feeding through the machine.
3. Measure distance from guide to the needle
Even if you have the correct foot on your machine, it’s possible that it’s not 100% accurate – so, let’s measure! Take your quilting ruler and place it underneath your presser foot. The needle should come juuust to the right of the quarter inch line. If it doesn’t, go on to the next step to learn what to do to fix it!
4. Adjust Your Needle Position
If your sewing machine allows you to adjust the needle placement, moving it to the left and right ever so slightly can make a big difference in your quilt piecing accuracy. Adjust your needle placement so that your needle is just to the right of the 1/4″ mark when lining it up with the presser foot guide.
5. Test it Out
Once you think you have your machine and foot set correctly, sew some pieces together to check out the accuracy. Press them in whatever manner you’d usually press (I tend to press open) and then measure the seam allowances to see how it worked out! You can also measure the total unit to see if it comes to your desired size. If it’s not perfect, repeat the process above until it is!
6. Practice Makes Perfect
Just like most things in life, the more you practice, the better you’ll become and the easier it will be! Keep sewing and quilting and practicing and you will definitely get the hang of the perfect quarter inch seam soon! As someone who has been quilting for almost 10 years, I can say I am still practicing! And I do still have to take out my ruler and measure every once in a while too..
If you enjoyed this tutorial, here are a couple others you might like too!