“Use a scant 1/4.” I’ve read this in multiple patterns and though it’s not necessarily a difficult concept to get my arms around, knowing why – or more importantly when – to use it has always escaped me for some reason, until yesterday.
First, let me show you the current view from my desk at any given time during my day (when I’m not cutting fabric or living life, in general).
Add to this to my growing love affair with Bella Solids in general, I’ve been trying to carve out some time to create a quilt with Moda’s Sampler Shuffle – a series of 30 – 6″ blocks designed by Moda designers – which were released to quilt shops last November at Quilt Market, Houston. I can’t say I’ve seen them created with Bellas, but as I’ve spent the last week or so staring longingly at the above image, The Sweetwater Bellas became an obvious choice.
So far so good…
All was going well until I made the 4th block, which had an awful lot of pieces (equating to an awful lot of seams)
Needless to say, I made it once, but decided to remake it. Here’s why:
Meh. 5/8″ isn’t all that big of a deal, right? Actually, it’s not the end of the world, until you’re trying to put a bunch of blocks together that are supposed to be the same size. 5/8″ can be a lot and I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to have to stretch my seams that much to make them line up comfortably. This is where the proverbial ‘scant 1/4 inch’ comes into play and why it is sometimes a pretty handy and necessary process for making our blocks the right size.
A scant 1/4″ is really nothing more than this:
Essentially, it all boils down to just how many seams we’re incorporating into any given block. Think of it this way – the more seams, the more seam allowances; the more rows, the smaller each block has the propensity to become as we go along, depending on how much attention we pay to seam allowance with each seam we create.
ALSO! In case you wondered – the fineness of the thread we use can make a difference as well. It’s why when I first tried Aurifil 50wt , I switched to it without even passing Go or collecting $200 (Monopoly never really leaves your psyche once you play it as a kid, ya know? But lest I degress…). Anyway, while you wouldn’t think the density of thread would matter much, I find that it makes my seams less bulky, which can make a sizable different across the span of a quilt, not to mention – a bunny outfit.
“What did you do with the poor, little too-small block?”
In the end, the question begs: is it really critical to pay so much attention to precision at the tiniest level with respect to seam allowances and thread density? Well, yes and no. It really comes down to two things – the longer we’ve been quilting, I think, the more it begins to matter to us that our work reflects our level of experience. Secondarily, every little seam, whether attentive to exactness of seam allowance or what kind of thread we use, adds up. For the purpose of this post – I’m just giving you a little food for thought 🙂
I wish you happy sewing my friends,
4 thoughts on “The Sometimes Perplexing Scant 1/4″ & What’s Thread Got to Do with it?”
I had wondered after seeing it mentioned, I think, in the splendid sampler quilt a long. I thought maybe the scant 1/4 inch was needed to correct an error in design. Oops. It’s good to now understand. Please do continue to post these teaching moments. Thanks,colleen(happy scrappy teaching moments?)
Happy Scrappy Teaching Moments – love it, Colleen! Believe me, these sorts of teaching moments pop into my day regularly, often in a EUREKA! sort of fashion. It’s that I have enough experience to know what a good deal of such terms mean from the standpoint that I can follow them all day long – but it’s nice when the occasion arises that I clearly see (without an instruction) how a certain technique would apply – and I want other people to feel that sort of independence too! Maybe ‘Fishing Pole Moments’ are what they should be called, because I can give you fish all day long, but if I teach you how to fish, you’re lots better off in the long run! Thanks for chiming in, Colleen 🙂
Greetings! I wanted to drop a note and say I have been thoroughly enjoying your blog, as well as your eye for color and attention to detail! Your cheerful images make me want to make a quilt (at least a mini one). Best wishes to you :-).
Oh! How very thoughtful of you to say! I’ve had an eventful day and it sure is nice to feel like what I write makes a difference to someone. It’s been a little while since I’ve posted, but I’m actually working on a block that I’ll be posting about, and if I play my cards right – a once a week followup for the quilt that will come together as a result. Very excited about it – it’s right up my alley 🙂 Thanks so much for chiming in. Sometimes we don’t realize that we really can make someone’s day – and you have made mine by sharing your very kind compliments. Cheers 🙂