quarter inch seams- how do you check it? #sewing #quilting | patchwork posse
quilting Quilting 101 Becky  

Checking your 1/4 seam allowance- How do you?

There are many times when I follow all the instructions to a T.  I check the cuts, measurements, sew everything in the order that I was supposed to…but something is off!  The block doesn’t square up.  It is too small, or too big.

Something was wrong.

Come to find out it was my seam allowance.  Yes. Something so small compared to all the other things that can go wrong, yet, it messed a whole bunch of things up…not to mention the cute {and expensive} fabric that I was using!

quarter inch seams- how do you check it? #sewing #quilting | patchwork posse

Checking your 1/4″ Seam allowance-

There is one way to do this.  Sew a straight line.  Place the fabric in your sewing machine and sew like you would normaly.  If you are using the sewing foot guide, or a mark, or whatever  it is that’s fine.  Just sew a line for now.

Take a ruler and measure from the edge to the stitch line.  Where are you at?  Are you right on the 1/4″?  Under it? Larger?  Figure this all out before you start making adjustments.

If you are off in either direction-larger or smaller, you will need to make some adjustments.

Here are a couple of ideas on how to adjust your 1/4″ seam and how to sew it once you found the sweet spot:

  • Can the needle move position? Sometimes a simple adjustment can do the trick.  My machine doesn’t have the option of needle adjustment, so this doesn’t work for me.
  • Use a seam guide.  I measured though and found that I can’t have the edge bump right next to the sewing foot.  It has to be just inside of it to give me the 1/4″ measurement.


  • Mark either with tape or marker where your fabric edge should like up on the machine to get that stitch in the right place.

finding your seam allowance for sewing | patchwork posse

Notice that I am not using the 1/4″ seam foot.  If you don’t have one {you should totally run out and buy one right now} you can use your regular foot.  Mark with marker the spot on the foot itself or use the tape as a guide.

The problem with the tape –for my machine– is that I have a drawer.  So, every time I get in there I have to remove part of the tape and then it isn’t as correct as when I put it there in the first place.  Something to think about.

quilting 101

Q&A:  How do you check your seams? Have a trick/hint to share with us? leave a comment and lets discuss!

16 thoughts on “Checking your 1/4 seam allowance- How do you?

  1. Sandy A

    The only comment that I have is to remember that everyone has their own “personal” 1/4 inch. it really doesn’t matter if your seams are exactly 1/4 inch wide. What matters is that your seams are consistently the SAME SIZE.

    Some of us use a scant 1/4 inch, simply because that’s what is easiest to measure on my machine.

  2. Barbara

    My machine also has a drawer. So I placed the tape correctly, then with a razor blade I carefully cut the tape at the split where the drawer will open, leaving the tape still on the machine. That way the tape stays secured and I can still open the drawer.

  3. Shar F

    I check my seams every now and then, because if you hit a pin (which you’re not suppose to sew over) it can adjust the needle alignment. I use a 1/4″ foot and love it. The tape also gets in the way of bobbins. I have used a permanent marker on my other machine.

  4. Jennifer Foulks

    Looks like a great web site. I’ll be looking T it a lot. Thank you

  5. Lynette

    I use tape as this is the first time i have quilted will be getting a 1/4 quilting foot as it will be so much better

  6. Beth

    I use painters tape. It comes off easily!

  7. Becky

    Beth- such a simple fix…that totally works great! thanks for the reminder.

  8. Jo Sisko

    I simply use my ruler and draw a faint line with a pencil. Can’t go wrong!

  9. Becky

    Great idea to mark it out– doesn’t hurt!

  10. Lorena

    I have only made 2 quilts (crib size) but no matter what I sew I sometimes find myself veering off near the end of my fabric. Does anyone else do this ?

  11. Becky

    This is pretty common as there isn’t any fabric to hold onto anymore to keep it straight and in line. Using a stilleto or something that can hold it will help.

  12. Valerie

    I’m quite new to quilting but have now made one or two. I really wish I had checked the measurement of my seams ages ago. It would have saved a lot of heartache and many unpicked seams. It would also have meant my efforts would have looked a little better. Never mind – done and corrected now

  13. Doris Melady

    Becky – in the picture with the metal foot I am very worried that a very small pull on the fabric will break your needle. The needle is sitting almost touching the inside of that foot rail. Either your foot needs to be adjusted or your needle position. Not sure if this is the machine you spoke of that cannot adjust the needle. Check to see if the foot can be adjusted to the left. Then you will have to figure out where your 1/4″ seam ends up after that.

  14. Tracy

    Where is everyone getting the 1/4″ grid tape? I can’t seem to find it anywhere. I really need to use this. I was shocked at my inability to sew a straight line on the first quilt that I made. This certainly will help me moving forward.

  15. Barbara

    Love all the information. My metal 1/4″ foot wiggles just a little. My fabric also moves towards the end as well. Keeping the fabric close to the foot is hard at times. It always wants to move toward the left.

  16. Linda

    Hi..I’m a quilting educator and I always have my students do a seam allowance test.
    Sew 3-1 1\2” x4” fabric strips together that should measure 3 1/2” width after sewing. You are not always sewing equal numbers of seams in both directions so your own personal seam allowance will not always work.

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