I am trying to make a rail fence quilt that has 7 strips in a block.
4 strips are 2-1/2" with 1" strips between them. Finished size is 10x10 (includes 1/4" seam allowance)
I can't keep my 1" strips straight - they keep curving on the ends! Once sewn together they are 1/2" wide.
I washed all fabric and heavily starched and ironed it before cutting. I have loosened my tension and lengthened my stitch width to see if this helps and it didn't.
I started out piecing 2 blocks in strips at the same time but changed to one block at a time to see if this helps - it didn't.
I am being very careful when I press the seams open (no ironing). I really don't want to paper piece this quilt but am at a loss. Should I iron a stabilizer to the back of my 1" strip fabric and recut these strips?
Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!
Hummm, the only things I can think of is when you get to the end of the strip are you making sure you are sewing straight off the edge. We sometimes get to the end, get in a hurry and tend to just sew and not paying attention if we are sewing straight or not. I know I have. I assume you are using a 1/4 " foot? Are the strips cut on the straight of grain? When you sew are you sewing one direction and then another. That's all I can think of at the moment.
Hope it starts working for you soon.
Wecome Teeleetulsa to QCA...
I've had problems like this myself. A fellow QCA member helped me at the Leavenworth retreat with the following suggestions:
1. After each seam, only finger press the fabric back...no iron at all. You are less likely to distort the fabric with just your finger.
2. After finger pressing, measure the strip to verify the visible section is what it should be. For example, if you are sewing a 2.5" piece, you should have a 2.25" piece visible on top after sewing the 1/4" seam and finger pressing.
3. If it isn't exactly 2.25" across the whole length of the strip, you will either need to trim it to the 2.25" or (if it is less than that) you may have sewn your seam with more than 1/4' and will need to take out and re-sew (sorry) the seam.
I found that with checking each strip as I added it, I was keeping the whole thing straight and accurate. With time and practice, I find this is getting easier and I am more accurate.
Another thought - I have heard sewing from the other (opposite) end with every other strip...will help to prevent bowing. You might want to try that too.
Hope this will help you...
Try sewing the strip in alternating directions: Sew down one edge and up the other. That way your feed dogs will actually straighten any stretch they put into the strip. If you sew both edges in the same direction, both sides will pull one way, and you'll end up with a smiley strip. I'm not explaining it very well, but if you can figure out what I mean, it will help. And use a stiletto (A shishkabob skewer works if you don't happen to have the tool) to hold the strips right to the very end.
Quilters are people who strip so they won't go topless.
Teeleetulsa... are you from Oklahoma? just a quick question there... then ...
Okay, I want you to check the direction you are cutting your 1" pieces... are you cutting them long grain - or cross grain... please do not cut them on the bias.
Check your fabric to see which way has the most stretch - you do not want to cut them that direction - most times I would say to cut them cross grain - but there are times you need to cut long grain...
And if you are using a 1" piece - make sure you are cutting it 1" all the way across - it should be 3/4" when only 1 seam is sewn and 1/2" when 2 seams are sewn...
so I guess what you are saying is you are sewing 1 seam and it is ending up 1/2" - which to me would mean that you have
1) cut the fabric so it is not 1"
2) sewn a very fat 1/4" seam
Other then that I can not figure out why you are ending up 1/2" from a 1" piece - if you only have 1 seam...
One other thing you can do since you don't have a 1/4" foot
leave the needle in the center - take a piece of tape and mark over 1/4" and put the tape there... layer a couple pieces of tape and run your fabric along that and it will give you an accurate 1/4" seam...
Or another way is to take a pencil and very lightly draw the 1/4" line on the top fabric until you can eyeball a 1/4" very accurately...
TeeleeTulsa - Hello from Enid!!! If you can't see painter's tape - you might try getting some of the stickies and just put a few together - I used to do that before i got my 1/4" foot... but found that drawing the line on a few pieces was all I needed to do to get my eye to hand coordination going for that 1/4" piece.
hi teelee, welcome to the group.
when you sew on a machine, the side with towards the feed dogs, feeds at a slightly faster rate than the top strip. if you stitch all your strips starting at the same end, they will end up smiling at you. stitch one strip top to bottom, the next strip bottom to top and keep alternating.
i don't think i am clear on your next question. if you are starting out with 1 inch strips, they will finish at 1/2 " you need to start with 1 1/2" strips to have a finished 1" strip between your 2 1/2 inch strips. if you are starting out with 1 1/2 inch strips and ending with 1/2 inch strips, your seams are too big. it is essential in quilting that you have a scant 1'4 inch seam. i have a foot that gives me a precise scant 1/4 inch seam, but there are cheaper ways to make a guide to keep those seams consistant.
i hope that answered your question, if not let us know and i will try again.
gini in north idaho
definitely sew in alternating directions.
i have seen purple things that stick (easily removable) at the quilt store that you lay next to your needle where you need to have seam the width you need. Fairly inexpensive and several come in a package. might be worth looking at.
Thank you to everyone that replied!
I followed all the very valid suggestions and my blocks are perfect! Here's what I did:
Painters tape to mark true 1/4"Recut my 1" strips length of fabric instead of width of fabricAlternate my seam directionFinger press only until the block is complete
Much appreciation to all!
Terri, I am so happy that you are not smiling but smiling again! Whoo Hoo!
WTG Terri, isn't it great when things actually work?
Life is like a quilt...bits & pieces, joy & sorrow, stitched with love
Besides 1/4" foot and all the great suggestions here ... when I assembled apparrel I used a accessory forgot the name of it but it screwed on to the bas of the machine so that you couldn't sew past the mark that you had preadjusted it to. The same idea is painters tape.
Quilting My Rainbow