Can a few “low tech” office supplies help you get a good quarter inch seam with your sewing machine? They sure can! Many sewing machine brands have a quarter inch presser foot available. They’re great. But, if you have the time to work through this exercise with your kids–and yourself–you’ll be amazed at the accuracy you can achieve.

In Part 1, we discussed introducing kids to sewing with thread and the four thread handling behaviors essential to machine sewing. We found out what a scant quarter inch seam was and how to make a quarter inch guide with an index card and some sticky notes. Find Part 1 here.

In Part 2, we’ll sew on fabric and test the accuracy of that guide.

Start with two light 2-1/2″ x 4″ fabric strips and one contrast 2-1/2″ x 4″ strip. Arrange as shown above.

NOTE:  All rotary cutting should be done by an adult for this exercise and for all Row by Row Junior patterns.

Place a light strip on top of the contrast strip. Be sure the edges are even. The photo above shows edges that are uneven and should be corrected.

Place the carefully matched strips under the presser foot and butt them right up next to the seam guide we made in Part 1. Remember those four essential steps we practiced in Part 1?

1.) Bring the top thread down between the toes of the presser foot, 2.) pull out a long tail of threads to the back, 3.) hold them together while lowering the presser foot, and 4.) hold the thread tail as you begin to stitch down the edge of the fabric strip.

When you get to the end of the strip. Stop sewing. Use the hand wheel to raise the needle to the highest position and pull your fabric strips away from the machine. Pull out a long tail of threads and clip close to the stitching like we did on the index card in Part 1. Repeat with the remaining light strip and sew it to the other side of the center strip.

A quick look with a clear ruler along the stitching line will show that our stitching and scant quarter inch seam allowance looks pretty good. But the proof will be when we “turn the cloth.” We learned about that in Part 1 too.

On the front of the test strips, use your finger tips to press the light strips back away from the center strip.  This is called finger pressing.

Lay a clear ruler on top of the center strip. It measures exactly 2″ wide. Yippee! We just stitched our first quarter inch seams accurately and they turned out perfect.

Wait! 2″ wide? We started with a 2-1/2″ strip. What happened to the 1/2″? Well, half of it (1/4″) was used up in one side seam and the other half was used in the other seam.  That left 2″ remaining in the center strip and that’s just the way it is supposed to be.

So why is all this important? Accuracy is fundamental to sewing. We want our Row by Row Junior blocks to fit together. We want things to fit our body when we learn to make clothing. We want curtains to be long enough when we hang them in our windows. We want all our projects to be just the way we planned them. Measuring and sewing seams together accurately makes all this possible.

Our Row by Row Junior mission:

We want to enhance your Row by Row Experience with “kid friendly” educational materials that foster the love of fabric and machine sewing, strengthen inter-generational family relationships, and support local quilt shops everywhere.”

Kids can!  All they need is opportunity, practice, a few good tools, and a willing adult.  

Let us know how you like Row by Row Junior.  Share your experiences with us.  Leave a comment below.

Jeannette Kitlan, your Row by Row Junior author and designer.