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Thread: Elbows in my strips

  1. #1
    Scooter's Avatar
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    > I continue to get elbows when I cut strips from salvage to salvage. I ripe the beginning of the material and line them up and press the material before I cut, but still get them. Does anyonehave any suggestions?
    >

  2. #2
    Norah's Avatar
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    Sometimes, when the stripes are printed on especially, the stripes do not line up with the threads in the weave. Then you have to use a ruler like comes for rotary cutting to mark a 90 degree line against the stripe. Then cut it clear across the fabric with the scissors instead of ripping or cutting with the rotary cutter. The line will not necessarily line up with the selvage or the threads in the weave, only with the stripes themselves. Do you know what I am saying?

  3. #3
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    not all fabric is woven evenly. ripping will usually reveal the true straight of grain, but not always. it always should, but it doesn't always. price is no reliable indicator, either. look at the fabric from the back. if it "eyeballs" even, it'll most likely tear that way. if it doesn't rip to a fairly square end, or if the weave is loose or otherwise wacky, prewash the fabric in hot water and chuck it into the dryer on the highest setting.

    whether your rip first or not, press the fabric flat, all the way across from selvage to selvage. lay it out flat, then fold selvage to selvage. don't use the ends as your guides. use the selvages. when they line up together down the length of the fabric and you have a nice flat, even fold with no ripples, you've found what the fabric "considers" its center. press that. lay the fold precisely along a horizontal grid line on the cutting mat. line the ruler up precisely along the fold and the perpendicular (vertical) line closest to the end and cut there. use that as your reference for future cuts.

    if it's any consolation, unless you're working with stripes, checks, plaids or any other print on an obvious grid, not being on the perfect straight of grain won't cause major problems or look horrible. like Norah, when i work with fabrics like that, i don't cut the fabric while it's folded. i line up the ruler using the print itself as my guide and move the ruler along as i cut from one selvage to the other in stages.

    is that a pain? yes.
    is it worth it? also ... yes

    and ... because i'm lazy ... if i'm having an elbowy day ... i just don't use the wonky pieces that span the fold. they go into the scrap bag. they'll eventually be good for something. :wink:

  4. #4
    Scooter's Avatar
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    umm not quite sure if I understand what you are saying, I'm new to quilting and have only done about 4 quilts and most of the time on smaller size stripes selvage to selvage i get the elbows.

  5. #5
    Super Member Yvonne's Avatar
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    http://www.quiltingboard.com/posts/list/783.page

    Perhaps checking out what we all had to say on the above posts will help.

  6. #6
    Scooter's Avatar
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    Thank you so much.

  7. #7
    Scooter's Avatar
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    Thanks, I'm teaching myself and the internet has been a wonderful help, now that i've join here I'll have lots of help. I'll post my first quilt as soon as I can figure out how to.

    Thanks everyone for your help!!

  8. #8
    Senior Member anita211's Avatar
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    Hi Scooter,

    Elbows on your strips, huh? Not a fun thing to have, but not usually fatal. One option if you are strip piecing, and the pieces are short, is piece till you get where it starts to bow. Then cut the part out that 'elbows' out. There are other uses for that 5-6" of material. That is for after you find out that the darn strip has an elbow in it. And if that one does, you can be pretty certain that the one before has a little less elbow, but it is still there.

    What I do is this. After I cut maybe 4 strips, I refold the fabric and try to straighten the cut edge. If I can't, I know I have elbows on the strips. Recut the excess to straighten the edge and start over. If you do this over the course of cutting out the quilt, you shouldn't have a whole lot of problems.

    As to tearing: I would say don't do it. Tearing usually pulls threads in strange ways, and you end up with a portion of that lovely rose that you really wanted to center in a block elsewhere else in the block. Tearing distorts the fabric. It is best to cut with a rotary cutter.

    I have been quilting for about 20 years. My very first quilt was torn into strips per the instructions in whatever magazine I had. My second quilt was torn also, per Eleanor Burns in her log cabin book, and I wasn't happy with the flower colors migrating into the navy blue. I bought a mat and cutter and haven't looked back.

    Good luck.

    Peace,
    Anita

  9. #9
    Marybeth's Avatar
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    I was taught to not only iron but use spray starch on fabric before cutting.

    It is more work but my fabric is stiffer therefore feels like it "moves" less when folding and cutting.

    I have never ripped material always have cut. Was reading in directions for a log cabin quilt to line up material selvage to selvage and re line up every 3 or 4 cuts.

    Also how many layers are you cutting at once? Usually 3-4 is best so they don't slip around. one seems too thin to stay in place. more than that requires too much pressure to cut

    hope it helps :-) Marybeth

  10. #10

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    Scooter:
    Here's a trick that work's for me. Press your fabric with the selvages exactly together. Then fold the fabric lengthwise, so that the fold is on top of the selvages. Hold the layers up by the top edges so that the fabric falls free. Adjust the top edges with your fingers until the fold lays exactly on the selvage edges. Don't pay attention to the raw edges, as you will be trimming these. Lay on your cutting surface and square up the edges. This should eliminate your elbows. Works for me!
    Nitabug2

  11. #11
    Sewbug's Avatar
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    I've read a dozen ways to do this and sometimes each way works :D and sometimes it don't. :(

  12. #12
    Super Member
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    Yep. Had this problem too. I fold fabric salv to salv. Press the seam. Fold the seam just up to the salv so the salv peaks above the fold about an inch. Using the marks on my 2" ruler, I place the ruler so the marks are along the bottom fold. Don't move the ruler. Look at the marks at the too of the ruler. If the folds are on the marks, don't tilt, the fold is straight and I can cut. You will have to trim and toss out a little bit.

    If you are cutting from a large piece of fabric, you may have to keep adjusting your folds to keep everything straight. Sometimes fabric likes to creep. 8)

    Please don't get frustrated. Quilting is a wonderful hobby. I've found playing with fabric and making something pretty out of fabric is great therapy. I'm a caregiver for my bedridden mother. Playing with fabric helps me get through the bad days.

    Julie in NM

  13. #13
    jumperfamily's Avatar
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    I have found that carefully pressing the folds before rotary cutting eliminates "elbows". Fold your fabric slowly and press each fold before placing it on the cutting mat in order to get strait strips from selvage to selvage.

    Shelly


  14. #14
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    Hi Scooter

    I read a book by Marti Mitchell and she explained why she cuts with the grain, instead of selvage to selvage. Anyway, I never did do a lot of cutting selvage to selvage because of the "elbows" . Now I either cut with the grain or if I'm cutting selvage-selvage I lay it out flat, not folded.

    Hope this helps.

  15. #15

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    I usually fold one salvage half way up to the other and then begin my cutting. It has worked for me.
    Judy

  16. #16

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    I was taught to even the fabric by holding it selvage to selvage, but not close together, and rolling until the bottom was even, sorry but that's the best explanation I can give, it'd be much easier to show you. Joy

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