Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Let's Talk About Seam Allowance

Seam allowance, seam allowance, when I was a beginner quilter, I didn't think much about seam allowance. I was young and had to take my time to concentrate on sewing straight lines let alone worry about the size of my seam allowance. The last thing on my mind was if I was sewing an accurate quarter inch seam! lol.... well, I was able to 'fudge' back then and not think about it so much based on the easy peasy quilts I was making at the time. (Not to knock easy peasy quilts, we all love easy peasy quilts ... easy quilts were hard for me when I was a beginner quilter.) Now remember, when I started quilting, back in the stone age, I was cutting everything out using a scissors, pencil and a wooden school ruler. Many of my blocks were far from accurate based on the results we can achieve with today's tools.  Beginner quilters have all sorts of tools available to them today that make accurate cutting and sewing so much easier. How did we ever function without the rotary cutter! I find that if a block isn't turning out right, chances are your seam allowance is the culprit. Seam allowance is important and I always check it when I start a project.

 Some of you are wondering why check your seam allowance, I have a guide on my sewing machine. Well, every machine is a little different. It's always a good idea to check. Once I start sewing a quilt on my machine, I do not switch machines while working on a quilt. (I have three machines, 'Lucy', 'Ethel' and 'George') Believe it or not, there can be differences between machines too, ever so slight... but depending on your project, it can make a difference.  Here is how I check my quarter inch seam.
In this photo my seam line is just outside the 1/4" mark... it doesn't seam like much...

But, my two blocks should measure 2 1/2" and look... I'm an 1/8th of an inch off..
In a block that has several 1 1/2" blocks sewn together, an 1/8th of an inch adds up quickly.
Here my seam line is just within the 1/4" mark....

My two blocks measure 2 1/2" exactly.... Perfect!

So the moral is that 1/4" seam really counts. It is worth the time to measure it from time to time so you know exactly where you need to line your fabric up so that you have the perfect 1/4" seam. There are many seam allowance tools available in quilt and hobby shops, and they are all wonderful.  So remember to check those seams and have a wonderful quilty day.

Happy Quilting,


  1. You are SEW right, Cindy! I am working on a new to me machine and it is so difficult to achieve a perfect 1/4" seam on it!! Practice!!!

  2. Super reminder Cindy! I have to remind myself that each of my machines is a wee bit different. :) I put adhesive strips on each one to mark the guide for a 1/4 inch seam. My 1/4 inch foot is a sweet, yet ineffective, idea. :)