Little Penguin Quilts Through the Year

Little Penguin Quilts Through the Year

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Uh oh!

This week, I pulled out the project box for my Northern Lights blocks which I started earlier this year, but hadn't worked on in awhile.

These blocks come from this book, and I'm making them in blues, greens, and grays.

I started these blocks in January using my old sewing machine, and then bought the new one in February.   As the weeks have gone by, and I've made other blocks, I've been starting to think that maybe the 1/4 inch stitching mark on the machine is not accurate.  So I decided I'd better do a test block!

I made a 4 patch using 2.5 inch squares, and...

Uh oh!

It was about 1/16 of an inch too small!

Then I lined up a small ruler under the presser foot with the 1/4 inch mark up against the needle.

Yep - it's about 1/16 inch off!  Darn it!

Well, since I want my Northern Lights blocks to accurately finish at 8.5 inches, I decided I'd better adjust my seam allowance.  These blocks are made from two 4 patches and 2 HSTs.   The HSTs came out a little big and just needed a little trimming - no problem there!

The 4 patches are made by matching up a print 5 inch square with a background 5 inch square, and sewing on two opposite sides.  You then cut them in half like this - 

Match up opposite colors - and sew opposite sides again.  (top and bottom in this photo)

Using a "scant" 1/4 inch seam (according to my machine's marking), I ended up with the 4 patches being a smidge big this time, and needing a little trimming.  Better that than too small!

And the new blocks are just right!

Oh, I like this design!

Those two dark looking blocks are actually a dark green and a dark blue.

So, here's my question?  Do I trust myself to remember that scant seam allowance - or should I mark it on my machine in some way?  Have you had to do this on your sewing machine?  How have you done it?  Thanks, quilty friends!

Sharing at Quilting is more fun than Housework for Oh Scrap! 


Gretchen Weaver said...

Put a sticky note on the machine to remind yourself to needle over to make the 1/4" accurate. Eventually this will become a habit and you won't need the note to remind yourself. That is what happened to me anyway. Northern Lights is going to be very pretty, Happy Stitching!

Vicki in MN said...

On my Janome 7700 I have to needle over to the right to 4.0 in order to get the 1/4" seam I need. It has become pretty automatic for me to do so. I agree with Gretchen, put a colorful sticky note on your machine where you will be sure to see it until you are on autopilot:) Loving those blocks all together.

Linda said...

Oooooh I like those blocks - pattern and colors!
I was going to say at least you know now what to do about the quarter inch mark, but I would definitely need a reminder. I just read what Vicki said about her Janome 7700, which is what I have, so I'm going to check my 1/4 inch mark today! I do remember reading somewhere years ago never to trust the seam markings on a sewing machine.

Libby in TN said...

I move my needle over to 5 on my Janome Gem Platinum and have a sticky arrow to remind me. But I also have a short piece of Sewing Edge stuck to my bobbin cover. My straight stitch Baby Lock has an excellent quarter inch foot, but I still keep a strip of Sewing Edge in front of the foot so that I guide against that instead of watching the edge of the foot. I use the Perkins 1/4" guide to find the correct position. Bonnie Hunter also has a similar guide. Good thing you realized the problem early on.

Kris Quilts said...

I have 2 Janome 6600 machines. On my original machine, I move the needle over to 3.7. I've been doing that so many years, it's reflex to do it... On the most recent machine I purchased, used, the needle has to be at 4.1. I would never remember which machine is which, so I wrote 4.1 in sharpie marker right right on the front of the machine.

Jayne said...

I think it's just crazy how 1/4" isn't always a 1/4"! When I make blocks that need to be perfect, I'll put washi tape on my machine and write the setting I need on it. I'll also put a note in with the blocks to remind me as well. I have a problem remembering to move the needle because I switch from improv to accurate blocks all the time! Thank goodness for post it notes and tape! Love your blocks though!

Sylvia@Treadlestitches said...

Beautiful blocks! I especially love the fabric on the newest one. Good luck with the seam allowance fix. Old school people like me just use flat refrigerator magnets, but that wouldn't work on a computerized machine, would it. Post its are probably the way to go.

Carol R. said...

I kind of had to figure out the hard way that just because I was using a quarter inch foot on my machine did not automatically make the seams a quarter inch. On my newer (of two) Janomes, I figured out the needle needed to be moved to 3.8 - UNTIL this last time it came back from the 'spa'... I don't know what they did to her, but I now only need to move the needle to 3.6 - unfortunately, it has taken a few broken needles for me to get it in my head.

Louise said...

Such pretty blocks! This will be a lovely quilt. I use blue painter's tape on the bed of my machine to show the scant 1/4" mark. I like it because the tape is quite long, so I can align larger patchwork up straight along the entire seam. Glad you figured out that your line was wrong! That will save Future Diann lots of trouble :)

Rebecca Grace said...

You're kidding -- the quarter inch mark on your actual sewing machine is incorrect?! How infuriating! Someone just posted in one of the Facebook quilting groups yesterday that the inch marks on her tape measure don't match up with the inch marks on her cutting mat. It's like the craziness of clothing sizes is now coming to our measuring tools and a quarter of an inch is whatever someone wants it to be...

I would mark the true quarter inch on your machine, even if you just use a piece of glo tape or something. Otherwise it's just too easy to revert to following that incorrect marking.

Cynthia Brunz Designs said...

When I teach classes, I always see variations between machines. Many people have to adjust their needle before they sew. But your blocks are beautiful. Thanks for sharing with Oh Scrap!

Linda @ kokaquilts said...

Lovely blocks! And heaps of ideas in the above comments re your 1/4" issue, isn't the quilting community great!

Preeti said...

I like this design too.