Skip Navigation Website Accessibility
Call Today 804-262-0005
become a fan

Why Do We Use a 1/4 Inch Seam?

 Why Do We Use a 1/4 Inch Seam?

Hello, quilters!


It’s March and spring is fast approaching. Take a look at some of the classes we’ll be offering this season, and remember that all your supplies for the class are 10% off after you register!


Upcoming Classes

Beginning Foundation Paper Piecing

March 21, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Kathy is teaching the basics of paper piecing with Carol Doak’s “Show Me How to Paper Piece.” She will walk you through creating a wall quilt perfect for those wanting to learn this skill. 

Appliqué for hand and machine

March 25, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sue will be teaching Eleanor Burns technique of applique for use by hand or machine. You'll learn the basic stitch, how to sew curves, points, and dips.

Kitchen Series 1 (potato bag and potholder)

April 8, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Start improving your kitchen with this series of handmade products, taught by Sue.


April 27, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Use just a fat quarter of fabric to make this handy pop up container with Sue.

Mini Poppins Bag

May 2 and May 9, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Make a small bag with Kathy - great as a cosmetic or sewing bag, equipped with lots of pockets to keep you organized.


Why Do We Use a 1/4” Seam?


Ever wonder why quilters use a 1/4” seam, and why it varies by industry? So did we!


There doesn’t seem to be a concrete history on when or why it started, though there are theories as to why a set seam allowance came to be.


In clothing, the standard seam allowance is 5/8”. It is thought that an industry standard was set to reduce issues and complaints from customers following the patterns. It also offers more leeway than a 1/4” seam to make adjustments or to let out for size increases. 


We use a standard seam allowance in quilting for much the same reason - it makes it easier to follow different patterns. Piecing is very reliant on geometry and mathematical calculations, so following the recommended seam allowance is mandatory to achieve the desired result.


Take a look at how much the length of these pieced strips are when the seam allowance was altered by the width of a thread. 



A 1/4" also seems to be the best to allow for the seam to be ironed back. 

All the accounts we’ve found seem more anecdotal than historical. Were you given a reason why to sew with a certain seam allowance, maybe by the person who taught you?

Happy sewing everyone,

Phyllis and the QA staff

Quilting Adventures                                                                     Hours: 
6943 Lakeside Avenue                                                                  Tues thru Sat  10 - 5 
Richmond VA  23228                                                                     Sun - Mon  Closed
Shop Blog: 


Click to visit Quilting Adventures!
Contact Info
Quilting Adventures
6943 Lakeside Ave
Richmond, VA 23228
(804) 262-0005
  • Hours 
    Tue, Wed, Fri: 10 am-5 pm
    Thursday 10 am-7 pm 
    Saturday 10 am-5 pm
    Sunday 12 pm-3 pm 
    Monday closed
Find Us