So… let’s talk about the scant quarter inch seam allowance.
It’s kind of a necessary thing if we quilters want to piece accurately, right? But for a lot of quilters, it can trips us up right? That stooopid scant quarter inch seam allowance is so frustrating sometimes!
If I’m being honest with you, I personally don’t really obsess over having a perfect seam allowance while piecing. And it works for me, because I use a lot of techniques that *don’t* rely on sewing with a perfect seam allowance. In this post I’m going to show you one of my favorite techniques to avoid sewing with a scant quarter inch seam allowance.
When I speak at quilt guilds and I show my quilts, particularly quilts from my book Modern Triangle Quilts, sometimes quilters will get this look on their faces. The look says “wow” but I could never piece like that.
And as a quilt teacher, hearing and seeing quilters say “never”, frustrates me a little bit. (Ok, a LOT bit!) Number one, because never say never, right? I used to say I’d never needle turn appliqué or wear eyebrow makeup, but here we are…
Also, let’s stop giving ourselves limits from the get go!
But really, it makes me not sad, but kind of more uncomfortable because I’m not a perfect piecer. Maybe above average but definitely not perfect. I guess it makes me uncomfortable to be maybe because I don’t want to be the reason for someone to say “never”. My mission is to teach people how to quilt in color, right?
Starting off with a “never statement” … that’s a bad start!
But I guess my frustration stems from the fact that we get tripped up by thinking we need piece perfectly and accurately at all times to piece well and to make a quilt that wows.
And that is just not what I’m about!
So I want to bring you in for a group huddle. You don’t have to be a perfect piecer all the time to make quilts that wow. Lean in to your skill set and the techniques you love. And if the scant quarter inch seam allowance is not in your skill set or you don’t like it… lean away!! Find techniques and designs that fit into your technique wheelhouse and loves.
Would you rather watch this lesson?
Ok, so yes, before going further I should say of course there’s a time and a place for the scant quarter inch, for sure… as my brother says with things he hates… there’s a time and place for (fill in the blank), never and in the trash!
There’s a time and place for the scant quarter inch seam allowance… never and in the trash!
Ha, but seriously there is of course a time where you want to sew accurately and with a scant quarter inch seam. For example, in the Modern Triangle Quilts, I (try to) use a scant quarter inch seam allowance when you assemble the quilt top.
Why avoid the scant quarter inch seam?
If using a scant quarter inch seam allowance is crucial for accurate piecing why would anyone want to not use a scant quarter inch seam allowance?
- Not as enjoyable – Sometimes sewing accurately and with your full attention is no fun.
- It’s not possible – For example if you are one to change sewing machines frequently.
- Endless frustration – If you’re one that tries and tries to get an accurate quarter inch seam allowance and can’t and it’s preventing you from making quilts or enjoying the process… move on! Maybe try a pattern/technique that doesn’t require the scant quarter inch seam allowance?
Take home message: Regardless of how you feel about the scant quarter inch, the bottom line is you don’t have to be a perfect piecer all the time to make quilts that wow. Lean in to your skill set and the techniques you love. And if the scant quarter inch seam allowance is not in your skill set or you don’t like it… lean away!! Find techniques and designs that fit into your technique wheelhouse and loves.
My Favorite Way to Avoid Piecing with a Scant Quarter Inch Seam Allowance
Ok, off the soap box and on to some real technique stuff.
This is my favorite way to avoid using a scant quarter inch seam allowance from my Modern Triangles Quilts book. I’m sharing these techniques because these are what I think to intimidate people the most. I actually love sharing my tricks with quilters because their faces light up when they see how easy piecing these triangles can be.
I always tell quilters when they get that look on their faces… if it looks hard, I’ve found a way to make it easier.
Use a Trimming Template
When you see a Modern Triangle Block, you might think that you have to piece all sorts of weird angles and match very precisely. But no ma’am. In the Modern Triangle Quilts book and related workshops, we use what I call a Triangle Trimming Template.
You can piece any technique and any mess and take that mess of fabric and trim a perfectly sized triangle from that noise. It can be a pattern, for example, the above triangle from Modern Triangle Quilts and the Design Improv with Triangles workshop.
Or it can be as simple as an improvised slab of fabric like the example above.
This is my favorite trick when piecing, especially piecing the triangles from Modern Triangle Quilts. You can make whatever type of design and use whatever type of technique and then cut out a perfectly sized triangle. And in the end, if you use the same template, all your triangles will be the same size.
I teach more extensively about these techniques and more in my online programs such as my Modern Triangle Block of the Month Programs. You can find more information about these on my teaching page.
Other Ways to Avoid the Scant Quarter Inch Seam Allowance
The quilting world is a wonderful place full of techniques that will suit your maker personality. If you like the idea of not using a scant quarter inch seam allowance, here are some other techniques that may interest you:
There is a time and a place for the scant quarter inch seam allowance, but you don’t have to be a perfect piecer all the time to make quilts that wow. Lean in to your skill set and the techniques you love. In this post I’ve shared with you one of my favorite ways to avoid that stoopid scant quarter inch seam allowance.