The Quest for the Perfect 1/4” Seam

Oh, the elusive perfect 1/4” seam, especially when it comes to a fixed position, center needle sewing machine like a Singer Featherweight. There are a bevy of 1/4” feet out there, but which ones really work the best? Answer: any one can work for you – it’s a matter of personal preference. I utilize Janome machines in my studio. I am most comfortable with their style of 1/4” foot with guide. 

What about 1/4” versus scant 1/4” seams? Look at the picture below. The white thread shows a true 1/4” seam and the orange thread is a scant 1/4”. On a machine with adjustable needle positions, you can move the needle just a smidge to the right to obtain a scant 1/4”. No need to change feet. Not so on a FW.

Quarter inch seams
True versus scant 1/4” seams

I use this foot for most 1/4” piecing:

Janome 1/4” foot with guide for center needle machines
1/4” foot for low shank, fixed center needle machines.

You do NOT need to buy a specialty presser foot or guide unless you want to. A small stack of sticky notes is the secret.  Here is my preferred set-up when I need to use a scant 1/4”:

Scant 1/4” setup
Original presser foot and sticky notes used to achieve scant 1/4” seam

Yes, it’s the original presser foot and a stack of sticky notes. I have a seam guide from the Featherweight Shop that works well, but I like to use clips.  I can’t do this with the the FW Shop Guide, as the guide gets in the way. I can pin or clip patchwork pieces to my heart’s content with the sticky notes. FWIW, I use a scant 1/4” seam in blocks with HSTs and blocks with intricate piecing.

You can also use this method for true 1/4” seams as well – simply move the stack of sticky notes slightly to the right.  Lori Holt offers a pretty nifty 1/4” seam guide that works well with the original presser foot.

Note: The scant 1/4” foot from the FW Shop works quite well. I own one. My Brother and Babylock owning friends ADORE this foot. I used it exclusively until I discovered the Janome style foot. As mentioned earlier, it’s a matter of personal preference.  No quilt police here. You do what works best for you.