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Who's big idea was it to use 1/4" seams?

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    Who's big idea was it to use 1/4" seams?

    Why do we quilt with a scant 1/4" seam? When you make clothes you use a 5/8". Why the difference, just so we have to remember to set our machines every time we turn them on! Would our quilts fall apart if we use a 5/8" allowance as long as we were consistent? I know it would change the finished size of the quilt but I could live with that.
    sigpic

    #2
    Re: Who's big idea was it to use 1/4" seams?

    My first quilts all had 5/8 inch seams. I ironed them open. I suppose the 1/4" doesn't put as much bulk into the quilting process and maybe that's the reason. No, they won't fall apart with bigger seams...seems the opposite should be true.
    However, I have forced myself to go to the smaller seam because of the patterns. I have old quilting books that use the garment 5/8' seam though and some of them (same book) instruct to use a 1/4 inch seam. Makes you have to read. lol.
    Walk in peace with the Lord by your side.
    Terry

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      #3
      Re: Who's big idea was it to use 1/4" seams?

      Originally it was both to save a bit on fabric, and to have a bit less bulk when hand quilting.
      TRUTH is seldom appreciated, unless you happen to agree with it. When you don't agree, you just call it rude.

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        #4
        Re: Who's big idea was it to use 1/4" seams?

        I don't always stay with the 1/4. I often use the side of my foot as a guide so it is somewhere between 1/4 and 3/8 (particularly with items like baby quilts which get washed a lot). The earth hasn't moved, so I guess the quilting gods aren't unhappy with my methods.
        “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” ― John Muir
        “We can be many things in this life, choose to be kind!” ― author unknown

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          #5
          Re: Who's big idea was it to use 1/4" seams?

          Just remember, if the pattern calls for 1/4 inch and you stitch a wider seam the resulting block won't come out the right size. That is truly important when you are doing a sampler quilt or different blocks.
          Sometimes, when there's a raging fire,
          it's best not to try to put it out with gasoline.

          "...pal carajo con la negatividad..."

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            #6
            Re: Who's big idea was it to use 1/4" seams?

            I was always amazed when I started quilting that a 1/4" seam could hold a quilt together, but it does. I had sewn clothing since I was a teenager and used to 5/8" seams. That's what I learned and that's what I did.

            I did learn recently on a WIP that I accidentally set my width to a true 1/4", rather than the scant 1/4". Luckily I noticed it early on, and just trimmed the pieces by a smidgen. The resulting blocks turned out 12 1/4" rather than 12 1/2". That's ok as they were all the same.

            Enjoy life and do what makes you happy. Everything else will follow.

            Every day I try to do one thing that challenges my comfort zone.

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              #7
              Re: Who's big idea was it to use 1/4" seams?

              I like 1/4" seams. I wouldn't want all the bulk of a wider seam allowance, even if I pressed open. I don't change anything on my machine, I just put on my 1/4" foot.
              Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway. ~John Wayne

              Quilting is my passion . . . chocolate is a close second!

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                #8
                Re: Who's big idea was it to use 1/4" seams?

                Many blocks won't come out the right size if you don't use a scant 1/4" seam.

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                  #9
                  Re: Who's big idea was it to use 1/4" seams?

                  When piecing, you might be working with small pieces. A 5/8" seam might be bigger than the sewn size! Also, can you imaging a pinwheel with 8 pieces of fabric in the center and all being 5/8" wide? Plus quilts don't have a lot of stress on the seams that clothes do.

                  That being said, I have a quilt top that my grandmother made. No one told her about the 1/4" seam allowance. Also, she was not consistent with the seam width. I noticed it varied from 1/8" to about 3/4"! But everyone wanted her quilts!
                  Vonnie

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                    #10
                    Re: Who's big idea was it to use 1/4" seams?

                    Ahhh- the old 1/4 inch SA discussion. Don't know where it started, but it was before my time. Blame it on the hand quilters with limited resources for materials. When I first started sewing it was garment construction with naturally, 5/8 SA. On garments there is so much else going on within the seam allowance 5/8 is most often required. When I first started quilting I wondered, why not use 5/8? I now know that it isn't necessary, and more often than not would just get in the way- depending of the complexity of course.

                    Lots of quilters need the convenience of a pattern, which is drafted with a 1/4 inch seam. To convert the pattern for a wider seam allowance just would not work for them. All tools and rulers are based on 1/4 inch seams as well. You'll never find an "Add a 5/8 ruler." LOL

                    I always wondered about the 5/8 seam. Why not 1/2" ? Makes the math easier to work in your head. On another note, why are we still using the inch system? Metrics are so much easier to deal with. And I have four sewing machines where the seam guides are marked in mm- 10, 15, 20, etc. Yeah I know- we don't use the markings on the SM beds much, but just the same.

                    I do have a problem with the "scant" 1/4 thing. No one can tell you what a scant 1/4 actually is in terms of size. How do you measure it? Hey, the thickness of the line on your ruler is more than most describe the difference between a true 1/4, and a "scant 1/4" It's simply a term thrown about when it's necessary to compensate for other abnormalities.
                    You gots to risk it to gets the biscuit-

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                      #11
                      Re: Who's big idea was it to use 1/4" seams?

                      Originally posted by oldmanquilts View Post
                      Ahhh- the old 1/4 inch SA discussion. Don't know where it started, but it was before my time. Blame it on the hand quilters with limited resources for materials. When I first started sewing it was garment construction with naturally, 5/8 SA. On garments there is so much else going on within the seam allowance 5/8 is most often required. When I first started quilting I wondered, why not use 5/8? I now know that it isn't necessary, and more often than not would just get in the way- depending of the complexity of course.

                      Lots of quilters need the convenience of a pattern, which is drafted with a 1/4 inch seam. To convert the pattern for a wider seam allowance just would not work for them. All tools and rulers are based on 1/4 inch seams as well. You'll never find an "Add a 5/8 ruler." LOL

                      I always wondered about the 5/8 seam. Why not 1/2" ? Makes the math easier to work in your head. On another note, why are we still using the inch system? Metrics are so much easier to deal with. And I have four sewing machines where the seam guides are marked in mm- 10, 15, 20, etc. Yeah I know- we don't use the markings on the SM beds much, but just the same.

                      I do have a problem with the "scant" 1/4 thing. No one can tell you what a scant 1/4 actually is in terms of size. How do you measure it? Hey, the thickness of the line on your ruler is more than most describe the difference between a true 1/4, and a "scant 1/4" It's simply a term thrown about when it's necessary to compensate for other abnormalities.
                      I don't know why we aren't using the metric system. We were forced to learn the metric system back when I was in school about 50 years ago. The teachers told us we would be using the metric system some day.
                      Vonnie

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                        #12
                        Re: Who's big idea was it to use 1/4" seams?

                        Thanks for all the info. As far as I can tell it happened in the 1800's.
                        Vinnie, a lot of things will happen "some day" and I'm not anxious for any of them.
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                          #13
                          Re: Who's big idea was it to use 1/4" seams?

                          I hope we never have to start using the metric system. I know some of the newer vehicles have metric parts. DH has both types of tools in the garage. Of course, in the hosp. we had to measure wounds in mm & cm.

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