JUST THE FACTS – Bernina Patchwork Foot #37

MarveLes Art StudiosBlogs, Tutorial 4 Comments

Will the REAL quarter-inch seam reveal itself?!  
The Patchwork Foot #37 and the stitchplate
Ok! So much for being a ‘game show host! Now on to the facts!

The most common reason this foot is purchased is to enable accurate, 1/4″ seams in piecing for quilts. Before I go into further details about this fabulous tool, first an important message about the stitch plate…

I hope you can see the lines engraved into the stitch plate in the pictures above.  The first engraved line … just barely to the right of the white material (where my awl is pointed)- that is the TRUE 1/4″ measurement mark!  The next mark to the right is the 3/8″ mark, then the 1/2″ and the 5/8.” 
Hint: THE very BEST way to get a precise 1/4″ seam is to use the…. STITCH PLATE. Hands down. No bones about it. True story! 

Yes, the patchwork foot itself is 1/4″ wide.  BUT… it’s NOT MEANT to be used as the  ‘perfect’ 1/4″ seam maker… it’s really just a guide!  Emphasis on the word “guide” here.   If you want accurate 1/4″ seams, then you should be using the 1/4″ mark on the stitch plate as you are piecing seams using this foot. That’s how you get a consistent… 1/4″ seam!  And I think most of us realize that consistency is key when you are piecing.  Most especially if you are doing a Mariner’s Compass or Lone Star type block.

Just take a look at those three handy-dandy  notches on the edge of the foot! They are on both sides of the foot, too. I love those!  These notches are all 1/4″ apart.  Looking at your needle once this foot is attached,  you will be able to see that the back notch is 1/4″ behind your needle, and the the center notch is lined up with your needle position, (where it pierces the fabric) and the third notch is 1/4″ in front of your needle position! Handy.

 Using those notches is one way I use this foot for turning and mitering my corners on bindings.  I stop sewing when the first notch hits the edge of the fabric and I know it’s time to make my 45 degree angled stitch into the corner.  Works like a charm! Hint: Don’t forget to use your Free Hand System to lift the foot for EASE and manuervability!

The 1/4″ seam, stitched into the corner on a piece of fabric to emulate the 45 degree angle when binding a quilt.

There is also the patchwork foot #57 with a guide, pictured below. Many people like this foot to help keep their fabric even and riding against the edge of that guide… which is fine, but remember that if you make your seams pushing your fabric toward that metal guide, it’s almost a certainty that you will not have accurate 1/4″ seams. (See the stiletto pointing to the 1/4″ mark on the stitch plate, as compared to the metal guide?)  

Regardless of the type of patchwork foot you use, what you need to know is the foot itself is not the most accurate guide.  The engraved measurement lines on the stitch plate ARE.

Here’s a good tip I heard in a class from one of the Bernina Educators:  don’t watch the foot as you’re guiding the fabric… keep your eye focused on the the engraved line with the 1/4″ mark on the stitch plate as you piece, and you will find your seams and piecing come together accurately and consistently!

Every once in a while I hear students commenting in class that the patchwork foot is just a ‘scant’ 1/4″… and therefore not a ‘true’ quarter-inch seam.  Now if you hear it… you’ll KNOW THE DIFFERENCE!  Yay!

Comments 4

  1. Well girlfriend, you have taught me something new today!! I never noticed the itty bitty 1/4 notch on my plate before. I've always used my #37 foot as a guide. I ran to my sewing machine to look, and my plate does not have the numbers like yours does. It says 10, 20 and 25 on the front of the plate, but on the back of the plate it says 1/4, 5/8 and 1. Thanks for the lesson.

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