1/4 seams

This post was originally posted at It’s Sew Kiki when we did a blog swap in August – I hope you will find it useful!

Hi! My name is Melissa and I blog at Sew BitterSweet Designs. I am so excited to be here today on It’s Sew Kiki! I just love Kiera’s blog.  I have been quilting for about 10 years now and have finally begun to understand the importance of a 1/4 in and scant 1/4 in seam in quilting and I thought I would share some of what I have learned with you today.

Me & my inspiration

When I started sewing I used my mom’s, then brand new, Janome quilting/embroidery machine. I am still sewing on a Janome machine but this time, I am the one with a brand new one.  Getting a brand new machine has its ups and downs; the only real downside is the really HUGE learning curve. I had to relearn how to sew a 1/4 in seam on my new machine.  Today I am going to share with you a few tips and some tricks on how to get a perfect 1/4 inch seam AND a scant 1/4 inch seam.


Some tools to have on hand:
  • Seamstress Ruler
  • Clear plastic cutting square
  • Moleskin
  • Sticky Note Pad
  • 1/4 Presser Foot
  • Blue Painters Tape

There are multiple ways to ensure an exact 1/4 inch when sewing, here are a few of the methods I have used over the years – and I tried each of these on my new Janome Horizon before settling on the one that has given me the best and most consistent results. I have also used these on my older, very basic Janome machine.

Blue tape is an excellent option for sewing with an exact 1/4 inch. Just line up your fabric and keep it lined up.  The draw back is that there is no defined edge to butt your fabric to, so you may find that your fabric wanders from time to time.

I like the sticky pad because it provides a raised edge which will help prevent your fabric from wandering and keeps your stitching straight. The drawback is that they tend not to stick very well for very long.

I LOVE moleskin for sewing a 1/4 inch seam.  It is sticky all over on the bottom so when you put it on your machine it isn’t going anywhere. Sadly that is also the drawback, when you take it off to do other sewing it tends to leave a sticky residue that you will need to clean off before moving on to another project.

My absolute favorite method is also the most expensive method (sorry). The 1/4 inch presser foot. Almost all sewing machine manufacturers make a foot similar to this one and they can be purchased online at a decent price.  This foot is great because you don’t have to worry about sticky residue and it was designed to work with the idiosyncrasies of YOUR machine.

Note: this foot will not necessarily give you a perfect 1/4 in or a scant 1/4 in seam right out of the gate, you will most likely need to adjust your needle position to get the seam allowance that you want. The foot is intended more as a guide.

You may be asking yourselves “why does she keep talking about a scant 1/4 in seam? What is the difference?”

It is the difference between have a block that measures exactly 12.5 inches and one that measures 12.375 inches.  If you cut accurately and sew an exact 1/4 seam every time odds are your block looks something like this:

However, if you are sewing with a scant 1/4 in seam (meaning just UNDER 1/4 in) your block should look something like this:

This block required NO trimming and measures exactly 12.5 inches square.  Good luck figuring out the best method for you and your machine on getting a 1/4 in seam and a scant 1/4 in seam.

Thank you for having me Kiera!


About Melissa Dunworth

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2 Responses to 1/4 seams

  1. Pam says:

    Great post. I really need to get that scant 1/4 inch. I haven’t worried about it too much, but it is pretty important to get those accurate sized blocks. Thanks

  2. Brandy M. says:

    GREAT ideas, Melissa. Thank you! I have a Janome and the 1/4″ foot that came with it. I love it! I need to figure out how to move my needle position… Roughly 6 years with this machine and I still don’t know… LOL!

    ~Brandy M.

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