This is the MOST important step of all quilting!!! That 1/4" seam allowance. Even if your seam allowance is off even slightly, then your sewn pieces will not match up. And we don't want that now, do we?
Here are some steps to getting that 1/4" seam allowance:
Grab your ruler and place it under the presser foot of your sewing machine. Slowly lower the needle so it touches just to the right of the 1/4" line on the ruler. Lower the presser foot to hold the ruler in place. Keep the edge of the ruler parallel with the lines of the throat plate. The edge of the ruler is the starting point for positioning the seam gauge and there are several choices for a seam guide that you can chose:
- magnetic guide
- screw-on guide
- layers of adhesive tape
- straight-stitch foot with quilting bar guide
- 1/4" foot (my favorite: some machine will have one but you can get a generic one)
Be sure to test your seam allowance so that it gives accurate results. The thickness of the thread and pressing will affect your results, so sew and press a test sample using the same materials and methods you will be using for your project.
To test your seam allowance:
- Sew two 2 1/2" squares of fabric (RST: right sides together) using your seam guide.
- Press the seam allowance toward one of the two squares. Tip: I like to press to the darker fabric. Why? Will not show on the front side.
- Measure the pressed unit. It should measure 4 1/2". If it is larger or smaller than 4 1/2", then adjust your seam allowance accordingly. Sew test samples until you achieve an exact 4 1/2" unit.