QA Class 130 Lesson 1-3: Accurate 1/4″ Seams

“There’s no need to be perfect to inspire others. Let people get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.” -Ziad K. Abdelnour

Do you think he was speaking to a quilter? I think he probably could have been. How many times do I get bogged down in the imperfections and let them take over my creativity!

I remind myself: I am taking Harriet’s course to get better at quilting. Instead of trying to be the ideal of perfection right off, I’m learning how to be flexible with the mistakes that inevitably come up. No quilter is perfect. Perfection is not the goal!


So, we approach the 1/4″ seam in this lesson. Instead of focusing on the perfect seam every time, Harriet suggests we aim for blocks that match eachother. I’d summarize the method as:

  1. Straighten fabric
  2. Accurate cuts
  3. Accurate seams
  4. Press well
  5. Check and adjust by cutting excess
  6.  Repeat from step 3


For accurate seams I have my #13 foot setup with a seam guide attached. I also take a few layers of masking tape and use that to extend a feeler-guide. I like to gently guide the fabric along the tape with my right middle finger. I can tell by the slightest touch if the fabric is feeding straight along that masking tape, overlapping it, or if it has a gap.


I get the placement of my seam guides by using graph paper that is 4 squares per inch. I cut the paper along the outermost lines. I adjust until my needle is poking just on top of the next line in, and then sew a seam. It’s easy to immediately tell if things are feeding straight and where the stitches end up with the graph paper lines. I’ll adjust and do another edge of the graph paper. You can see my adjustments along the lines in the picture above.

I have learned the hard way, instead of sewing a full strip next, practice on a little section, press and measure. This is the best way to tell if you need to make any major adjustments. I say err on the side of scant 1/4″ seams, because you can always trim after pressing.


The goal of quilting is to take large pieces of perfectly straight fabric, cut them up and sew them back together to make larger (perhaps more interesting) pieces of perfectly straight fabric. There is a lot of room for human error, and that is okay!


I check my work and measure my combined pieces as I go along. Trim where needed, and things will start lining up. Remember, the goal is not perfect 1/4″ seams. The goal is blocks and rows that fit together nicely. The 1/4″ seam is there to help!

img_7768What about you? How do you achieve blocks that match up? Do you use any seam guide?

This post is part of a series where I work through Quilter’s Academy, a book by Harriet Hargrave & Carrie Hargrave. See archives for the rest of the series.



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