Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Scant Quarter Inch Tutorial + New Sew Along

Once upon a time, years ago, I made my hub this scrap quilt from a book called Quilts for Men, which I ended up naming Triangle Massacre because none and I mean NONE of the points worked out. Not that they just didn't match. More like they didn't exist at all. They were all chopped off in the seams. 

Along with that, none of the blocks were the right size. ??? They were a good 1/4" to 1/2" too small. I was baffled. I had taken great care to measure all of the triangle units and cut correctly. I was confused. Disappointed. I felt like a failure. I had tried to do EVERYTHING right. But nothing added up. It drove me crazy b/c I couldn't figure out why?

Finally, one day I randomly googled scant vs. regular quarter inch seam. A-HA! That was the missing link! I had thought the word scant in all of the instructions I'd seen just meant to be precise. Make sure that seam is 1/4" and no wider. Like this:

Nope. No no no. That's a regular 1/4" seam. 

SCANT 1/4" seam actually means a teeny bit LESS THAN 1/4". Like this:

Notice that the thread is just inside the 1/4" mark. Tucked right up next to the line. 

It made ALL the difference!!

Things suddenly turned out the right size (mostly). And (occasionally) I actually make perfect points now! Emphasis on the occasionally. haha I'm still perfect-point challenged, but it's no longer the seam allowance to blame. ;)

Fast forward to the Minecraft Sew-Along last year, and I got (and still get) the occasional email asking what a 'scant' 1/4" seam is, or asking why the blocks were/are turning out too small. So this has been on my to-do list for months; to write a post about the scant 1/4" and link it to the sew-along page.

So here we go: There are all kinds of tutorials out there that you can google, and different ways to go about achieving the perfectly scant 1/4" seam but I'm going to share my favorite way, the way that's easiest and works best for me.

Some people use tape or lasers as guides, but I like to use the edge of my presser foot as a fabric guide.

So what I do to get my scant 1/4" seam is this. I move my needle position to the right, sewing a short seam and measuring, until I have a scant 1/4" seam like in the pic above. Which on my machine means moving the needle to the 3.3 position. This takes a little bit of trial and error and a scrap of fabric but once you figure out your needle setting, then it's quick. Each time I sit down to sew, I just move my needle to the right until it is on the 3.3 setting. That gives me my scant 1/4" seam. Then I can sew along using the edge of my presser foot as the fabric guide. But whatever guide you like to use, you can adjust accordingly. 

That's it. That tiny bit of difference can wreak havoc on a quilt block that has lots of pieces. 

Reason being is that when you fold open the seam, whether pressing to one side or pressing open, the fabric has to lay over the thread which doesn't seem like a lot of thickness, but if your block has lots of pieces, those little slivers add up and it can make enough difference to throw your block size off by 1/4" or 1/2"! Not to mention what it does to the points.

Who knew?! Not me for a long time. I learned the hard way! How did we ever live before google? :)

But whichever way you choose, this will make a world of difference! I wish I had figured it out before I massacred all of those triangles on my hub's quilt all those years ago.  

Live and Learn! 

One more thing! Did I mention the Minecraft Sew-Along earlier? Well, stay tuned for this! Pokemon games are the rage in our house right now so Mr. 10 yr old has been helping me with blocks and is really excited about this. Coming soon! With some extra character options, too (like a really cute JigglyPuff -- I don't know what it does but it's cute!). :D

Thanks for popping in! Hope you're having a great week.

Happy Stitching!xoxo


Heide said...

Thanks for this info. I am such a visually learner that the photos helped me out. I do not understand why some pattern ask for a 1/4 in and other ask for scant 1/4. Gets a quilter all in a fluster! LOL.

MissPat said...

I have a quarter foot for my old mechanical Bernina (no digital machine in my house), but my aging eyes have trouble seeing where the edge of the fabric is, so I use Bonnie Hunter's method of taping an old credit to the machine bed as a guide and then watching the little notch on the metal plate. And, yes, it was years before I knew the notch was there. The relative thickness of the fabric can also affect how much you lose in the fold over. One other thing that has helped me is to make sure you are cutting correctly. I keep the lines on the ruler on top of the fabric, which gives you an extra thread width.

Thanks for keeping it real Kelli! Everything has a learning curve, and quilting is no different. I think you explained the scant 1/4" perfectly! Hope to run into you soon!

Great illustration!! I use the same method to achieve a scant quarter inch seam. One other thing to take into account is the thickness of your thread that you are using to piece with. There is a huge difference between a 50 wt. thread and a 20 weight thread in the amount of space it takes up in the fold! Using thread meant for piecing (usually 50 wt) consistently means you will always KNOW where that scant quarter inch is. I found this out the hard way when I ran out the spool and just grabbed the only other thread I had that was the right color but wrong weight.

sandyb said...

Thanks for the looking forward to the new project. Loved the Minecraft series!

Good tutorial, but, it doesn't work for me. I use straight stitch machines, so, no needle moving. I also use my 1/4" foot (yes, very accurate). Instead, if a pattern calls for scant 1/4" seams, I have to cut my pieces a tad bit larger.

margaret said...

I'm so glad you are back. I've missed your posts. I'm excited for Pokémon! Sometimes quilting secrets are the hardest to keep.

Kate B said...

Ohhhh dear! I can see 2 pokemon quilts in my future! lol <3

Well Kelli, you are a huge hit in our house. First Minecraft and now Pokemon!! Looking forward to starting this but this time I will be making just two of them!!!

Beth said...

Last summer you minecraft quilt was my obsession and now I'm looking forward to your Pokémon one. Granted I knew nothing about minecraft prior to this but now I will learn about this. Lol

Unknown said...

Kelli! Thank you so much for the scant 1/4 inch. I’m new at sewing and quilting. I started in February 2019. I’m going to practice your way. Thanks again. Lisa

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