Top 10 Posters

Trouble Keeping Narrow Strips from Smiling!

rated by 0 users
Answered (Verified) This post has 8 verified answers | 19 Replies | 5 Followers

Not Ranked
5 Posts
Points 205
Teeleetulsa posted on Mon, Oct 22 2012 4:14 PM

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!

  • | Post Points: 80

Answered (Verified) Verified Answer

Top 50 Contributor
Female
1,923 Posts
Points 26,980
Answered (Verified) Ramona replied on Mon, Oct 22 2012 4:36 PM
Verified by Teeleetulsa

Telleetulsa,

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.

  • | Post Points: 25
Top 50 Contributor
Female
2,220 Posts
Points 41,005
Verified by Teeleetulsa

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...

 Winthrop, WA

 

  • | Post Points: 55
Top 25 Contributor
5,033 Posts
Points 108,610
Verified by Teeleetulsa

 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.

  • | Post Points: 25
Top 10 Contributor
Female
12,932 Posts
Points 233,952
Answered (Verified) Thea replied on Mon, Oct 22 2012 4:53 PM
Verified by Teeleetulsa

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...

 

  • | Post Points: 25
Top 10 Contributor
Female
12,932 Posts
Points 233,952
Answered (Verified) Thea replied on Mon, Oct 22 2012 4:56 PM
Verified by Teeleetulsa

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...

 

 

  • | Post Points: 25
Top 10 Contributor
Female
12,932 Posts
Points 233,952
Answered (Verified) Thea replied on Mon, Oct 22 2012 5:23 PM
Verified by Teeleetulsa

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.  

 

  • | Post Points: 25
Top 10 Contributor
Female
28,110 Posts
Points 410,964
Answered (Verified) gini replied on Mon, Oct 22 2012 6:05 PM
Verified by Teeleetulsa

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

  • | Post Points: 40
Top 25 Contributor
Female
6,384 Posts
Points 119,256
Answered (Verified) Patti replied on Mon, Oct 22 2012 9:35 PM
Verified by Teeleetulsa

definitely sew in alternating directions.

Patti

Chiliwist Valley

  • | Post Points: 20

All Replies

Top 10 Contributor
Female
9,344 Posts
Points 126,144

Sorry, my brain is fried right now so not much help with your question; but, I wanted to say Hi and welcome to QCA - nice to meet you.

Life is like a quilt...bits & pieces, joy & sorrow, stitched with love

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Female
1,923 Posts
Points 26,980
Answered (Verified) Ramona replied on Mon, Oct 22 2012 4:36 PM
Verified by Teeleetulsa

Telleetulsa,

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.

  • | Post Points: 25
Top 50 Contributor
Female
2,220 Posts
Points 41,005
Verified by Teeleetulsa

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...

 Winthrop, WA

 

  • | Post Points: 55
Not Ranked
5 Posts
Points 205

Thank you so much!

I don't have a 1/4" foot as I can't find one for my old singer. I move my needle to the right position and line up with the edge of the presser foot. It's a scant 1/4" but worked on my previous quilt ok.

I will sure try finger pressing, measuring after each seam and sewing in opposite directions each strip. I really want to make this quilt and have all the fabric cut!

Again - thank you!

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Female
1,923 Posts
Points 26,980
Ramona replied on Mon, Oct 22 2012 4:50 PM

Telleetulsa,

I'm sure you'll get it to working for you. Try all the ideas and see what ends up working for you. Good luck and can't wait to see your finished Rail Fence. I'm sure it'll turn out great!

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
5,033 Posts
Points 108,610
Verified by Teeleetulsa

 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.

  • | Post Points: 25
Top 10 Contributor
Female
12,932 Posts
Points 233,952
Answered (Verified) Thea replied on Mon, Oct 22 2012 4:53 PM
Verified by Teeleetulsa

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...

 

  • | Post Points: 25
Top 10 Contributor
Female
12,932 Posts
Points 233,952
Answered (Verified) Thea replied on Mon, Oct 22 2012 4:56 PM
Verified by Teeleetulsa

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...

 

 

  • | Post Points: 25
Top 500 Contributor
Female
96 Posts
Points 2,025
Barb S replied on Mon, Oct 22 2012 5:01 PM

Did you cut 1.5 inch strips?  One inch cut strips sewn together with 1/4 inch seams will end up at 1/2 inch.  I.5 inch strips sewn together with 1/4 inch seams will give you a 1 inch finished strip.  Just checking -- I have made this mistake myself.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
5 Posts
Points 205

I think I led you all wrong. The strip is 1" when cut, 3/4" when sewn one side, 1/2" when the block is completed.

Thea - I cut my strips 1" x WOF. Thankfully I didn't cut them all so I'll recut them long grain.

I've tried the painters tape but found it was hard to see if my fabric was lined up together correctly. I'll give it another try though!

And YES - I"m from Tulsa, Oklahoma!

Thank you all for your suggestions! I will give them all a try!

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 10 Contributor
Female
12,932 Posts
Points 233,952
Answered (Verified) Thea replied on Mon, Oct 22 2012 5:23 PM
Verified by Teeleetulsa

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.  

 

  • | Post Points: 25
Top 10 Contributor
Female
28,110 Posts
Points 410,964
Answered (Verified) gini replied on Mon, Oct 22 2012 6:05 PM
Verified by Teeleetulsa

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

  • | Post Points: 40
Not Ranked
5 Posts
Points 205

I am starting with 1" strips that finish at 1/2". Sorry for the confusion on the original email!

Thanks all!

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 25 Contributor
Female
6,384 Posts
Points 119,256
Answered (Verified) Patti replied on Mon, Oct 22 2012 9:35 PM
Verified by Teeleetulsa

definitely sew in alternating directions.

Patti

Chiliwist Valley

  • | Post Points: 20
Page 1 of 2 (20 items) 1 2 Next > | RSS
Have a Question? | About Us | Privacy Policy | Join Today Copyright ©2009-2014, Crafts Media, LLC ALL Rights Reserved.
By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use