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Topic: Seam Allowance for quilting?  (Read 1416 times)
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kjlutz
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« on: May 10, 2013 10:59:27 AM »

I've heard that most people use 1/4 seam allowances for piecing quilts.  Is this true?  What do you use?  How does your machine handle small seam allowances (mine likes to chew them...)?  Any tips?     
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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2013 11:04:24 AM »

Yep, 1/4 inch for quilting. This is how patterns/templates are written. What do you mean by chewing up? You might need to get your machine serviced. My best tip in general to get a perfect 1/4 inch (and it's usually a "scant" 1/4 inch, which means about 1-2 thread widths smaller than 1/4 inch) is just to buy a 1/4 inch foot that fits your machine. It provides a guide that you butt your fabric up against and you can sew lickety split without worrying about it.
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« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2013 11:16:44 AM »

When I do narrow seams it pulls the fabric to the inside at the beginning of the seam bunching it all up.  My machine does need to be serviced... I've just been holding off because it would mean being without for awhile. 

Sadly it's really hard to get feet for my machine (it's a short shank kenmore), but I will look into it. 
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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2013 04:03:14 PM »

Try this, before sewing your pieces together, use a leader piece of scrap fabric (I call them spiders). Leave it in the machine, then sew your pieces. Snip off your leader, and use it the next time you need to start piecing. My leaders/spiders get lots of strings on them as I use them all the time.
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2013 05:13:25 PM »

Does the spider piece touch your pieces?
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2013 05:45:01 PM »

No. It is like chain piecing, but the first thing you put under the presses foot is the spider (I sew through the middle of the spider). Once the spider passes the presses foot/feed dogs, sew a few stitches, start your piecing. Having the spider there helps keep the first pieces you sew from getting enmeshed in the feeding mechanism of our machine. Once you have started piecing the real McCoy, you can cut the spider free so it is available the end of your first go around of piecing. . .and then you will be ready for the second round.
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« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2013 07:07:41 PM »

Making spiders is a great way to get the stitching started.  The other thing you can do is change out your throat plate (the plate that covers the bobbin area).  If you have a zig zag machine, it probably came with a throat plate with a wide hole where the needle goes into the bobbin case and one with a narrow hole.  Often times, the wide throat will allow the fabric to get 'sucked' in to the bobbin case.  The narrow throat provides a more stable surface for the fabric and isn't as likely to chew it up. 

NOTE!!!!  You can't use any stitch but a straight stitch with the narrow throat plate in place.  Don't ask me how I know.  Just trust me.  It doesn't work! 

Here is a picture from american-doll-outfitters.com that shows the difference in the throat plates.   

http://www.american-doll-outfitters.com/images/Throatplates.jpg

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« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2013 07:29:21 AM »

I had this problem, too.  Using a spider helped, especially for triangles with those little points.  After stumbling upon Bonnie Hunter's site, I still continued with the spider theory but started using quilt pieces instead.  Now instead of wasting the time and thread I am working on two quilts at once.  The one I'm working on with leaders and enders isn't the one I'm primarily working on, but if you are sewing anyway you might as well make it count, right?  It can be the beginning of the next quilt that you'll "upgrade" to the main quilt or just stay a leader/ender project until it's finished.

And yes, 1/4" seam is correct.  It seems so tiny after sewing garments and home dec, doesn't it?  A bigger seam will only add bulk for the quilting process later, and the quilting will make it more secure.  You'll be anchoring the pieces to the back, so there won't be as much stress on each seam like there is with other sewing.
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« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2013 07:33:48 AM »

thanks to all of you that makes a lot of sense now.  I will need to look into these ideas.  
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« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2013 01:02:18 PM »

In a quilting book I read recently (sorry, no recollection of the name of the writer or the book) the author said that she uses 1/2 or 5/8 inch seam allowances because, unless they're meant strictly for show, quilts by the nature of their job will get a lot of wear and tear and the narrower seam being closer to he edge of the fabric is more likely to have issues as time passes.  She also felt it made quilting easier, with a slightly wider and thus somewhat flatter seam to sew over, and especially if you're stitching close along seam lines.

This all made good sense to me, and I like the notion of adding to the durability factor...but I'm afraid that until I start drafting my own patterns or feeling confident I'll get all the math conversions correct, I'll be sticking to the standard 1/4 inch....
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