As you know, a 1/4″ seam allowance is the gold-standard in quilting. Keeping your seam allowance consistent is an important key to good-looking quilts but using a scant 1/4″ seam is even better. Let me explain.
Typically lining up the edge of your fabric with the right side of your presser foot is a good guide for keeping your seam allowance consistent. You can buy a specific quiter’s foot with a 1/4″ seam allowance for your machine (newer ones may come with it) but if you’re like me, I didn’t want to spend the extra money and it seemed close enough. Then I took a class from Leslie Ison where she explained how much more effective it is to use a scant 1/4″ when pieceing – especially when you are piecing a more complex block.
Above is are two seams on either side of a drawn line. On the right I just used my regular presser foot with the needle centered. On the left I adjusted my needle one space to the right and still used my regular presser foot.
Here is the difference. On the right you can see that the seam allowance is actually slightly bigger than 1/4″. On the left you can see that the seam lies just slightly inside the 1/4″ line. This, my friends, is a scant 1/4″.
So get out your ruler and measure your seam allowance. Making adjustments may be as simple as moving your needle one notch to the right, but sewing with a scant seam allowance will make a difference in your piecing. Especially if your piecing smaller, detailed blocks – like those cute Farmer’s Wife blocks. Give it a whirl and let me know if it makes a difference for you.