A traditional seam allowance for home sewing projects is 5/8 of an inch. Yet if you sew more delicate or bulky fabric – think chiffon or leather – you may need to sew a smaller seam allowance to reduce undesirable visibility or bulk. Whilst you can sew such a small seam allowance on your sewing machine with a standard presser foot, it can be time consuming and difficult to sew accurately.
A 1/4 inch presser foot is the perfect solution when you need to sew small seam allowances that would otherwise be difficult to achieve.
The Two Notable Types
You should be aware when buying a 1/4 inch presser foot that there is two primarily different types on the market; one with a guide and one with a blade.
The Guided Presser Foot
This 1/4 inch foot has a metal guide along the right edge of the foot. The guide extends just below the base of the presser foot, allowing you to easily butt your fabric’s raw edge against the guide.
There are small notches on the left of the foot that serve as guides when sewing curves and pivoting, easily enabling you to ensure your seams are always the same size.
The Bladed Presser Foot
This 1/4 inch foot has a metal blade along the right edge of the foot. The blade extends to reach the needle plate so that when fabric is sewn and pulled beneath the blade, it will cut your seam at a perfect 1/4 inch measurement.
Like the guide presser foot, there are several notches on the foot that will serve as a guide when sewing curves and pivoting.
When To Use It
The reduced seam allowance works perfectly in cases where you need to reduce bulk or when larger seam allowances might be visible such as in sheer fabrics. It is also a great foot to use when topstitching; the guide helps you stitch at a perfect distance all the way.
How To Use It
- If using the guided presser foot: trim your seam allowance down to 1/4 of an inch. If topstitching or using a bladed presser foot, skip this step.
- Butt the edges of your fabric against the metal guide. If using the guided presser foot, align either the raw edges of fabric to be seamed or the fabric to be topstitched.
Keep in mind your required finished seam allowance. A standard 1/4 inch presser foot with a guide will not trim your seams down to size, so you will need to do this first. On the other hand the bladed presser foot will cut the seams down, so make sure you want those seams small; it will be difficult to sew flat-felled seams for example.