Friday, June 11, 2010

Machine Fridays - Scant 1/4"

We all know what a 1/4" is, but how about a scant 1/4" inch and how do you sew a scant on your  machine?

 To me a scant 1/4" is a couple of thread widths shy of a true 1/4".  This way when I press my fabric open in one direction or the other it is a true 1/4".  It took me years to learn this.  My seams were always just a hair bigger than the 1/4" that I was striving for.  It drove me nuts.  I went around asking people, "how do you get a 1/4" seam on your sewing machine?"  The answers I got from people did not help me at all.  Not one bit.  More than one person told me they don't use a 1/4" for piecing or they just eye balled it.  No help there.
Another person said that they just used the 1/4" inch stitch on their machine.  I had been doing that, but it was still off.  Yet another told me to keep moving my needle position till I got the seam allowance that I was looking for.  With this answer I was getting closer I felt, but that still did not give me the answer I was looking for.  I wanted a correct answer that worked every time for me.

Truth be told us quilters have a very definite preference, as to how scant we would like our 1/4". 

They do make a 1/4" foot that you can get for your sewing machine.  Some of them even have a guide on the side of the foot to help you keep your fabric straight.  Which in my eyes is the only way to go.  Be careful here because some of the feet will not give you a scant 1/4", but only a true 1/4" stitch and when you press over your fabric it could be more than the 1/4".

a scant 1/4" stitch is achieved by moving your needle to the right a few needle positions with your stitch width button on your machine, but you have to know where your true 1/4" stitch is on your machine.  To find it try this:  Draw a line on a piece of paper that is 1/4" from the edge and place it under the presser foot on your machine and line your needle up right on the drawn line.  That will tell you where your 1/4" is on your machine. 

Here is the foot I use and love.  I would not trade it for any amount of money in the world.
   As you can see it gives me marking for 1/8" and 1/4" on the side of the foot.  Which is great for inset seams or placing on binding and always stopping at the right spot.  No more guessing with this foot.  It also allows me to sew an exact or scant 1/4" seam allowance because I can move my needle to a new positions to get the perfect stitch.  Viking owners note: This foot is designed for the new 7mm machines, but can still be used with the 6mm machine. 
  • To use on a 6mm machine just move your needle to the far right position and you will have the perfect scant 1/4"
  • To use on a 7mm machine use the 1/4" stitch that is on your machine and move your needle to the right two needle positions. 
Next week I will talk more about the scant 1/4" and how the thickness of your thread will play a role in a the scant 1/4"

Until next time,

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  1. This is really useful. I have to get myse lf a new machine later on in the year - budget around $1,000 - any suggestions? I want it to piece and quilt.

  2. Good post! I struggle with this all of the time. I'm going to go back and check out my settings.

  3. Thanks, I never thought about doing the paper check. I will try that one. I am never sure where exactly to have my fabric edge hit. I can always store a setting to make it exact AND to set a scant quarter.

  4. I have a Viking Sapphire 870Q. Is it a 6mm or 7mm? Right now I have the version of that foot in clear plastic but it doesn't have a wide needle hole. I can still move the needle two clicks to the right but that only gets it properly centered. I can't live without that foot with the guard for piecing!

  5. Hi.

    I just read and enjoyed your article on Quiltposium. I'm another male quilter who has taken quite a few years to be taken seriously in the quilt world. Though, I have never encountered the kind of blatant sexism you did by an organization (a few individuals - that's a different story LOL).

    I'm off to peruse more of your blog ... please visit me at (which is not really a quilting blog) - or my website - would love to see you.

    Congrats on the article!

  6. Thanks for the tips..I struggle with that 1/4"!!


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