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1/4 patchwork presser foot

by Miriam
(Manchester, Connecticut)

Miriam writes...

I have a really hard time maintaining a 1/4 inch seam on my patchwork.

I'm looking at special feet for my machine that will help guide me, but there are a couple of different kinds.

What's the difference?

Which one is better?

Julie replies...

Viking 1/4 inch Piecing Foot
My first quarter inch presser foot was the standard quarter inch presser foot that is a regular quilting accessory for most machines. It's pictured to the right.

Both the left and right edges of the foot are a quarter inch from the needle.

Note the faint red markings on both the left and right edges of this foot. These mark 1/8 and 1/4 inch in front of and behind the needle.

Because of the small hole for your needle, you must use the 'center' needle position for this foot. Furthermore, you can use your straight stitch throat plate with the centered needle. (Personally, I think you get a better stitch with this particular throat plate.)

The video below shows Bernina's version of this foot (Patchwork Foot #37) in action.

Many of my friends use this type of quarter inch foot and love it.

I do not.

I never feel comfortable that I've got the foot exactly even with the cut edge of my fabric. (I'm farsignted and am known for wearing two pairs of glasses when I'm quilting—one prescription, one reading to magnify what I'm doing...there I've admitted my little secret!)

Lots of time I'm 'sneaking' downstairs to my machine to snitch a bit of sewing's not the best environment for accurate stitching.

I'm also known for continuing to sew until I can't see straight, my eyes are just too tired. But I love quilting and sometimes just can't stop myself.

So I switched something that works better for how I piece...

My favorite presser foot for piecing is...

Viking Edge Stitching Foot
This foot (pictured to the right) is called an 'edge stitching foot with guide' in the Viking world.

Bernina calls their version 'Patchwork Foot with guide #57'. (The important part of the name is 'guide'.)

What I like about the foot is the guide blade or flange on the right hand side of the foot.

To stitch a perfect quarter inch seam, just guide the cut edges of your seam allowance along the metal guide.

I have to adjust my needle position because the right edge of the foot is further than 1/4 inch away from a center positioned needle. (Check the instructions for your foot to see if you need to do this.)

The following Bernina video shows this foot in action...

One of the benefits is that the foot uses the entire surface of the feed dogs to guide your fabric through the machine. (Take a look again at the first video and you'll see the feed dogs peeking out from underneath the foot.)

Another is that you can fine-tune your quarter inch seam allowance for different fabric thicknesses by adjusting the needle position. I do use a different position for when I use flannel or homespun fabrics.

Because you change needle positions, you will need to use your regular zig zag throatplate with the oval hole. This is the one that comes with most machines.

Personally, I like to starch (heavily) my quilt fabric. This foot makes accurate piecing so much easier for me...even when I'm too tired or distracted to do as good a job as I should. See my page Starch Quilt Fabric to learn more.

Watch out for pins...

To accommodate the pins used for piecing, insert your pins so the heads are on the left, or...

My sewing machine allows me to select to have it stop with the needle down in the fabric. When I do, the presser foot raises just a bit. As I reach a pin (with the head to the right) I stop the machine. The needle ends down in the fabric, the presser foot raises. I then set the foot and flange/guide down on top of the pin and keep sewing.

Yes, yes, I know I'm not supposed to sew over pins and I don't advocate it because it can mess up your machine's timing (not to mention flying broken needles). But I piece with extremely fine pins and this is what works for me.

Miriam, I hope this helps you in your search for the perfect 1/4 patchwork piecing foot for you!

Readers, what do you think? Do you have a favorite piecing foot. Do tell us about it using the 'Comment' link just below.

Thank you.


Julie Baird

Comments for 1/4 patchwork presser foot

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Markings in presser foot
by: Maria

Could you please help? I am new to sewing/quilting, I have purchased the 1/4 inch presser foot. I noticed that the foot also has some red markings, what are they for and how are they used?

Many thanks for your help, I have spent many hours on the internet trying to find this out, but I had no success.

From the Editor:
My new quarter inch presser foot

This is my new quarter inch presser foot. The red lines show where 1/8" and 1/4" away from the needle are.

I like this version of the foot better that the first one. I can guide a drawn line towards the red 1/4" line so much easier than trying to align it with the edge of the foot.

~ Julie

Brother Edge guide for Center Position Only....Help!
by: Anonymous

Very helpful for a newbie! Not only new to patchwork, but new to sewing period!
I am awaiting the arrival of my new Brother CS-6000i and after your info about the "patchwork foot w/guide" I googled looking for one. What I found was this:

SA185-Brother Snap-On 1/4" Quilting/Patchwork Foot w/Edge Guide
"Genuine Brother® Accessory. Exclusively for centered straight stitching quarter inch seams on fine fabrics. Quarter inch piecing foot with blade for seam sewing.......Single hole foot prevents fabrics from sinking into feed dogs."

Now, why oh why would this be so designed preventing needle adjustment? The feet you referred to were just the opposite....single hole on the 1/4" foot and wider hole for needle adjustments on the foot w/guide!! Is there something else I could use to get accurate seams?


From the Editor: The Brother foot you referenced is correct...because the distance between the needle and the outside edge of the foot is 1/4". As long as you use the center needle position and the fabric rides along the guide, you're creating a perfect 1/4" seam allowance.

The Viking foot that I use is designed as an 'edge stitching' foot. I've hijacked it to use for piecing. The Viking foot is a standard sized presser foot (it's more than 1/4" from the needle to the edge of the foot) so I need to be able to move the needle position to compensate. Because I could move the needle, I didn't need to buy Viking's new 1/4" quilting foot with a guide.

Does that make sense?

The foot you referenced is what you want for piecing with quarter inch seams.

~ Julie Baird

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