2 ways to achieve a perfect ¼” seam allowance

I’m still excited about what I accomplished yesterday! I was truly amazed to discover the decorative fly stitch for my Redwork quilt on the Husqvarna Viking Brilliance 75Q sewing machine, and unless you look closely, you can’t tell whether the stitching was done by machine or by hand. What’s even more impressive is that it didn’t take long at all to get that section of the quilt top together. Another UFO almost finished!

Husqvarna Viking Brilliance 75Q

The excitement of getting that task done so quickly makes me think about some other projects I have, just waiting for hand stitching. Why not dig them out and try to find a way to complete them with the sewing machine?! I’ll see what I can unearth, but that’ll have to wait for another week.

While I was going through the stitch menus, I found a built-in ¼” seam allowance setting. Now, there’s something I want to learn more about!

As a result, today is all about the perfect ¼” seam allowance. I’ll explore two different options to achieve the ¼” seam allowance on the Brilliance 75Q, and I found another small project that was close to completion, so I’ll share with you how I quickly finished it off!

Let’s get started with the options for the ¼” seam allowance.

Finding the perfect ¼ seam allowance

Any quilter will tell you that it’s critical to find the correct width of seam allowance or your blocks will not fit together. It’s super easy to achieve the perfect ¼” seam allowance on the Brilliance 75Q, and there are two completely different ways to accomplish this. I tried them both as I wanted to see if there was any difference between them and identify which one I liked best.

Method 1

The Quilter’s ¼” Piecing Foot P

I used the Quilter’s ¼” Piecing Foot P and the straight stitch plate. Both accessories come standard with the Brilliance 75Q. The needle stays in the center position.

Quilter’s ¼” Piecing Foot P with the straight stitch plate

Do you know that those red lines on the presser foot are there for a reason? Yes – there are red lines parallel to the needle to help you line things up, especially when pivoting or topstitching. There are also lines for ” and ¼” in front of and behind the needle. And the shape of the foot has been designed to give you more options with the measurements!

Take a few minutes to study the foot to appreciate how the lines can eliminate marking and get to the sewing faster. There’s also a Clear Quilter’s ¼” Piecing Foot and a Clear ¼” Piecing Foot with Guide. So, depending on your preferences, you’re sure to find a ¼” piecing foot that’ll work for you! I love having options.

What’s the easiest way to test for a ¼” seam allowance? I’ve seen some people do their ¼” test with one seam, but how do you know if that was just a fluke? My preference is to sew two seams, press them as I would if it were a project, and then measure. If I can get two seams correct, I’m likely good to go for the ¼” seam allowance. If not, I need to make some adjustments.

I started by cutting three strips that each measure 1½” wide. The length doesn’t matter, but 6″ is ideal for practicing making a consistent seam. No need for fancy fabric for this test – I used some scrap muslin.

Three strips of fabric for the ¼” seam allowance test

We’ve got the fabric, the presser foot, and the stitch plate. Let’s check out which stitch to use. I’m using the A:1 stitch in the Utility Menu. It’s a straight stitch with the needle in the center position, so even though the recommended foot is the A Foot, I can use the Quilter’s ¼” Piecing Foot – since that foot requires the needle to be in the center position. Even though there’s a presser foot recommendation, you have options depending on the type of stitch you select. Notice I can easily see the stitch and the position of the stitch relative to the presser foot on the Touch Screen. I used the Exclusive Sewing Advisor to set the fabric weight and type to Woven light, since the muslin I selected is a light cotton fabric.

The stitch settings for the A:1 stitch

I used the Exclusive Sewing Advisor to change the weight and type of fabric. In this next photo, I’ve left the settings at the default of Woven medium. Do you see the difference between the tension (4.6 versus 4.0) and the stitch length of 2.5 and 2.0?

The settings for the A:1 stitch with a medium woven fabric selected

Here’s a little tidbit about the default settings – there has to be a factory default setting. As a quilter, I like to think sewing machines are for making quilts. Alas, that’s not true – there are probably many more crafting and garment sewists out there than there are quilters! Anyway, the default stitch length for garment sewing is 2.5! Wow! I didn’t know that. So that’s why your sewing machine has a default stitch length of 2.5, and the fabric setting is Woven medium. It’s easy to use the Exclusive Sewing Advisor to set the fabric weight to light, so the stitch length and the tension have the appropriate setting for quilting cotton.

It’s time to sew! I placed two strips with the right sides together, and I stitched them together with what I believed to be my ¼” seam allowance. I don’t pin most seams. It takes time, and if you’re using the optional extension table, you have plenty of room in front of the needle to line up your pieces and keep them lined up. Pinning takes time, and I’ve found it does not necessarily improve accuracy.

Notice how the fabric’s raw edges are lined up exactly with the edge of the Quilter’s ¼” Presser Foot P.

Using the Quilter’s ¼” Piecing Foot to sew a ¼” seam

I sewed the first seam and gave it a good press with my iron. I added the second strip, keeping the edge of the fabrics along the edge of the presser foot.

Give the second seam a good press, and let’s test the width of the strip set. I laid the sample on the cutting mat and placed a small ruler over the sample. Exactly 3½” wide, which is what it’s supposed to be. No ripping out stitches, no trimming – it was perfect the first time. And note how the width is consistent down the entire length of the sample!

The test sample for the ¼” seam allowance is exactly 3½” wide through the entire length

Don’t forget good pressing techniques and tools are as important as accurate sewing and cutting. Once I know where to position my fabric with the Quilter’s ¼” Piecing Foot, I don’t have to worry about that for future seams!

Method 2

Using the Built-in ¼” seam allowance

Let’s try the other method. This time, I’ll have to move my needle, so the first thing to do is remove the straight stitch plate. I get a pop-up message about the stitch width safety and have the option to keep it active or to deactivate it. I click OK to deactivate it as I want to move the needle. But what a nice safety feature. I don’t have to remember to turn this feature on or off. The stitch plates have sensors in them!

A pop-up message about stitch width safety

I’m using the Function Arrows to move to the D Menu – Quilt Stitches. I have not selected a stitch yet, so the A:1 stitch is still active on the screen.

The D Menu – Quilt Stitches

I’m now in the stitch information screen of D:1, which is the built-in ¼” seam. The recommended presser foot is A, which is another foot included with the Brilliance 75Q. Notice the position of the stitch on the screen is no longer in the center position. Look at the Stitch Positioning setting on the screen; the needle is now 2.3mm to the right of the center needle position.

Stitch D:1 is selected

If I don’t change the Exclusive Sewing Advisor to Woven light, I can override the stitch length setting. Every time you override the default settings, the numbers turn red. You may have to adjust the tension as well, so try to use the Exclusive Sewing Advisor – it takes a lot of the guesswork out of your sewing!

The stitch settings turn red when the default is not selected

Here’s the setup for using the built-in ¼” seam setting. I’m using the A presser foot with the decorative (or zigzag) stitch plate. Notice the position of the needle, which is no longer in the center position.

Presser Foot A and the decorative stitch plate

Again, when I stitched, I had the fabric right along the edge of the A Foot.

Sewing a ¼” seam allowance using Presser Foot A

I gave the two seams a good press, and now it’s time to do the test again. Wow – another perfect ¼” seam. So, there are two ways to achieve the perfect ¼” seam allowance on the Brilliance 75Q.

A consistent test result for the ¼” seam allowance

I like to use the Quilter’s ¼” Piecing Foot P and the straight stitch plate. Why? I like the idea of a smaller hole for the needle, so there’s less chance of my fabric getting pulled into the bobbin case, and I like the extra metal around the opening to support the stitches as they’re formed.

The bottom line – both methods work, and you get the same results. So, you decide!

Let’s move onto some quilting and try some of the different quilting feet. As I was tidying up one day and taking photos, I came across the piece shown in the photo below. When I wanted to get serious about quilting over 20 years ago, I decided to make my 2-year-old daughter a queen-sized quilt. What pattern? Why the Tumbling Block pattern, of course! I had no idea what I’d just committed to making. Anyway, I ended up making two table toppers for the nightstands with this pattern but no queen-sized quilt.

Quilted table topper

Imagine my surprise the other day when I noticed there were a couple of spots with no quilting! The medium blue on the left has no quilting in it. None of the medium blue diamonds were quilted. I had a good laugh and decided it was time to get it done and test out the Brilliance 75Q in the process. If you look closely, you’ll see I even marked pencil lines I could follow for stitching. Well, those days of marking my quilt tops like this are gone!

A tumbling block

I found some thread in my stash that’s the perfect color.

Thread to finish the quilting on the table topper

If I don’t have to mark lines on a quilt, I won’t. I’ll use the edges of the presser feet or other tools. In this case, I decided to quilt it with the Quilter’s ¼” Piecing Foot. Why not use the Interchangeable Dual Feed Foot? There are several reasons:

  • the diamonds are not very large
  • the rest of the piece is quilted, and nothing will shift
  • I can use the edge of the ¼” presser foot as a guide to reflect the echo quilting on the rest of the work

Don’t forget to use your Needle Stop Up/Down function to bring up the bobbin thread. I don’t use the Cut function when I’m quilting – I want to be 100% in control of the bobbin thread, so I leave it long and manually cut it so I can bring it to the top. This little trick prevents thread nesting on the bottom of your work.

Bringing up the bobbin thread to the top of the quilt

It was a snap to quilt this piece. As I approached the corner, it was easy to rotate the work to see if the edge of the foot lined up with the next edge of the diamond. Use the Needle Stop Up/Down and the Sensor Foot Down and Pivot to ensure the needle remains in the fabric when you stop, and the presser foot rises slightly. If I wasn’t quite at the turning point, I’d rotate the quilt back and tap the foot pedal once or twice to advance by half a stitch until the edge of the presser foot was aligned to continue with the echo quilting. A quick pivot of the piece allowed me to see very quickly if  was on track.

Using the Needle Stop Up/Down and Sensor Foot Down and Pivot to turn the corner

Here’s a short video so you can see how I quilted one of the diamonds. If I wasn’t quite at the corner, I tapped the foot pedal to advance by half a stitch.

Here’s the piece, and it’s now complete. It only took 20 years to finish it!

The finished table topper

Here’s what the stitching looks like on the top. I’m pretty happy with it. I didn’t use the Fix function, but I could have. Instead, I ran over the start of my seam by about ½” to anchor both ends.

The quilting on the diamond shape

Here’s the back of the work. It sure looks a lot better than some of the other stitching on the back. It helps to have a better sewing machine and a bit more skill after 20 years!

The back of the quilted diamond

I’ve run out of time today! But that’s one more project finished, and it took no time at all with the Husqvarna Viking Brilliance 75Q.

Be sure to come back tomorrow as I have more small projects I’ll be quilting, and I’ll use some different presser feet and techniques to quilt them.

Have a great day!


This is part 4 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 3: Easily get the look of handwork stitches by machine!

Go to part 5: 3 quilting styles with the Husqvarna Viking Brilliance 75Q

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