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Thread: Help..Im Ready to Cry

  1. #1
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    Help..Im Ready to Cry

    If this has been discussed previously, sorry I missed it.
    I have been quilting for about 6 years. I have actually made quite a few quilts, so I would consider myself an advanced beginner/early medium level. Now all of the sudden I feel like I am back to a negative level with my sewing just a straight 1/4 inch seam allowance.

    I bought all the 1/4 inch gadgets/feet to help me insure that I sew a 1/4 inch. Still no luck.

    Then I thought it was my cutting that was off. I bought a Fiskar Rotary Cutter & Ruler Combo last fall. And I still continued cutting what I thought was "wavy edge" or not straight enough seams 2 1/2 inch fabric strips. Thus, I still felt & measured that my blocks were off. Then early this year, I bought a Stripology Ruler. I thought this would be IT!!! and I would cut perfect 2 1/2 inch strips. Well no...I am still finding wavy fabric strips. I have discovered that after cutting the strips with the Stripolgy Ruler, and using Magic Sizing fabric finish when ironing my 2 1/2 inch fabric strips. After the strips dry, I have really wavy fabric. I am trying to remove the heavy folding creases in the fabric using this product.

    I use a dry iron. Should I not even use any type of spray to remove wrinkles in my fabric? No I do not prewash. I hate ironing. I am proud of myself that I have gotten into the habit of ironing all my seams period to one side period.
    (I mean I can not remember the last time I iron anything for myself to wear.)
    How do I win this game??? I feel like I am back to before square one even...like I am an negative something.

    I almost feel as if I was ahead when I was a total novice and never ironed just finger creased. Of course then my blocks all looked miserable compare to the other ladies' blocks in class.

    My quilts always get compliments from everyone. So I make things fit. But, I would really really love to have flat fabric strips and be able to sew a good 1/4 inch seam allowance for quilting.
    Thanks.
    Kathy

  2. #2
    Senior Member fatquarters's Avatar
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    I am sorry for your tears Kathy. I am not sure I can help though not sure just what the problem is? are the strips of fabric nice and straight before you sew?
    fatquarters

  3. #3
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    Without watching you do it I can't really say what you are doing or not doing. Are you making sure you are cutting on the straight of grain? Just because you line up the edges does not necessarily mean your fabric is on the straight of grain.

    But for me I bought the June Taylor Shape cutter and I also bought the Accuquilt Go and the 2.5 in die and the 1.5 in. die.

  4. #4
    mac
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    Are you pressing your strips or ironing? There is a big difference. With pressing you put the iron on the fabric and lift straight up, you continue this until you are finished. With ironing, you are moving the iron around as you would ironing your clothes. The big difference is with ironing you are moving your fabric around which will make wavy lines. With pressing you are not moving anything because you are picking your iron up, therefore no fabric movement.

    I know you say you don't like to iron, but if you are going to use fabric spray, I suggest you use it before you cut the material.

    On the internet there are lot of explanations on how to 'press your blocks and fabric'.
    Good luck, hope this helps.

  5. #5
    Moderator kathy's Avatar
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    I agree, spray and press the whole piece of fabric, not just the strips, when they're wet or damp from the spray they are too easily warped.

  6. #6
    Super Member LyndaOH's Avatar
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    First, I'd suggest you take a deep breath and quit beating yourself up! Now matter how advanced of a quilter you are, you'll have things that frustrate you from time to time, and this is one of those times.

    I starch and iron before I cut my strips, not after. There's a lot of room for distortion when you're ironing, especially if you're starching heavily enough that the fabric feels wet. Even more so when you're ironing something only 2 1/2" wide.

    I understand hating to iron a large piece of fabric; I also hate to iron. If I've bought multiple yards of fabric and I only need 5 or 6 strips, I will cut off the approximate amount I need, iron that, and then cut my strips. It's a lot easier to handle.

    I make sure that once I have the approximate piece of fabric cut I iron out the crease then refold it selvage to selvage so it's perfectly straight. You don't want to put the crease back in fully before cutting your strips.

    A couple of points about ironing - I use Best Press and prefer it to sizing. It really helps get wrinkles out with a fairly light spray. I've never had my fabric feel wet before pressing.

    If you hate ironing because of the standing involved, lower your ironing board to chair height and sit while ironing. I find it much easier.

    When you're cutting the strips be very sure that your mat is on a nice even surface and you are holding your ruler firmly in place. I've found there were times when I was pressing down so hard on my rotary cutter that I'm moving the ruler. Firm steady pressure on the rotary cutter is what you need. Keeping your pinky finger off of the ruler and resting on your mat can help you keep the ruler where you want it.

    Lastly, it may help to have someone else watch you as you do your cutting. They may spot something that's causing your inconsistencies.

    Hope this helps!

  7. #7
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    Hmmm, do your strips look wavy before you sew them together? Or is it just afterwards that they look wavy? I was sewing a load of strips together a few weekends ago, and after I finished sewing them I thought they looked terrible and wavy, but when I set the seam and then pressed to one side they looked fine.

    Could you maybe show us a photo so we can see it for ourselves, as that may help with coming up with ideas for you? I wonder if its the step of ironing the strips after they've been cut that is causing the problem? I don't think I've ever ironed a strip after cutting, I tend to do it before cutting and then after sewing, but then I do iron as little as possible if I can help it! Also, are you pressing or ironing, as that could make a difference I reckon!

    I am terrible at cutting strips and just got myself the sizzix 2 1/2" strip die and am in strip cutting heaven! I finally have consistently cut strips!

    I do hope you find a solution soon, as it is no fun to be so frustrated by a hobby!

  8. #8
    Super Member justflyingin's Avatar
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    Are you using a walking foot? It really does help.

  9. #9
    Power Poster lynnie's Avatar
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    when cutting try only cutting a small slice at a time and walk your hand down the ruler. I do that and it helps a lot.
    put off till tomorrow what you can do today, and if you procrastinate long enough, you may never have to do it.

  10. #10
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quite a few things can be going wrong. First, if you are using starch or sizing you need to press and starch your yardage BEFORE any cutting. This is a big reason I prewash, to remove the factory sizing and to help release the factory fold for the bolt which is usually out of square which results in wonky strips with dog legs and waves.

    Then you need to make sure you are folding your fabric correctly. Do a google search and use "how to fold fabric to cut strips" as your search criteria. Several YouTube videos will come up as well as blogs with pictures to help you.

    Then google "how to rotary cut fabric" for youtube videos and blogs that offer tips for how to hold your ruler and rotary cutter to avoid slippage or moving your ruler a bit as you cut along the edge. Some people prefer to put little non slip rubber dots on their rulers or dots of sand paper. I prefer nothing on my ruler and will splay my fingers out for increased weight distribution. I also walk my fingers along the length of the ruler as I cut.

    You have to find what works best for you when it comes to cutting but the folding part is crucial when you start. A crooked fold results in crooked cuts.

    If you are getting waves from sewing your strips together, it helps to reverse the direction with every other strip.

  11. #11
    Senior Member HouseDragon's Avatar
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    feline fanatic has given you the best possible advice.

    Please give prewashing a try. Also make sure the rotary cutter blade is new enough to cut without pressing down so hard that you move the ruler.
    If life gives you lemons, make Limoncello!

  12. #12
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    I prewash then iron and sometime lightly starch the fabric. After ironing the fabric I let it rest on a curtain rod or shower rod. Before I cut, I "true it up". Making sure it hangs true not at a twist. Then I square it up. If I have a large piece, I cut about a yard then. I use non skid shelving to help prevent fabric slippage. I just place a 1/2" strip at an angle between the ruler and fabric. You also want to make sure the cutting table is level and solid under your mat. I agree with the others also you may want fresh eyes to see what you are/not doing. Good luck.

  13. #13
    Power Poster ube quilting's Avatar
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    IMHO, I think the problem is in the ironing/ pressing part of your work.

    Not washing fabric before using and wetting it with the starch, if not evenly sprayed, causes the fabric to want swell up and to pull itself together in the wetter spots , The fibers are reacting to the amount of moisture. Less wet areas don't react as much as wetter areas. The result is uneven or wavy finish after pressing it.

    Try washing a sample piece of fabric, then starch and press it. See if you get the same results.

    When you starch leave it there for a minute to really soak into the fibers before you press. Take your time with it and try not to slide the iron over the fabric as suggested. Use an up and down action to press.

    When I starch fabric, I do it twice. First on the back, and press, then flip to the front and do a lighter spray and press.
    I have found this really helps to keep distortion at a minimum. I got this tip from Sharon Shambers web site.
    peace
    Last edited by ube quilting; 05-15-2015 at 01:07 PM.
    no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop

  14. #14
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    I agree with the other response that starching and ironing after you cut may be the culprit. Just wanted to add that I once had a teacher that said she did not iron any seams until she was finished with a block to avoid distortion. I don't remember who it was. It made sense at the time. This does not work for me but It may be the way to go for you

  15. #15
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    Absolutely agree - recently was working with a layer cake, making lots of diagonal cuts, so I starched the you know what out of those first - huge mistake. Probably a half dozen pieces were shrunk up and distorted so much as to make then unusable. Working with the 10 inch pieces made the problem very evident.

  16. #16
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    Kathy, I agree with the others. There is a HUGE difference between ironing and pressing. Ironing can ruin fabric for the best of quilters. I never iron anything--every (except clothes every so often). Even when I use starch I press fabrics and seams. It just keeps things in place. I hope you get this figured out soon.

    Grammahunt

  17. #17
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    Kathy, I have the same problem. No matter what I buy to help me, it doesn't work. I have finally learned to just sew and like you said "make things work". I too get compliments but I know the truth about my seams. One thing I learned at a class I took when I first learned to quilt was to make your seams consistent. If you can't get a 1/4'' then get as close as you can but make sure that all your seams are the same. Don't stress out about it. Then it becomes a chore not a fun hobby. I am sure there are a lot of us out there that have the same problem.
    The joy of the Lord is my strength.

  18. #18
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    Make sure you spray and press the fabric Before cutting the strips. Precuts are best handled with care.

    Is your mat still in good condition? Sometimes when the mat gets grooves, it distorts the fabric cut.
    Is your ruler still nice and flat? Sometimes they get dinged and nicked and don't product straight cuts.

    Have you noticed how your machine moves the fabric under the foot? Sometimes (depending on the machine) the foot doesn't line up well with the feed dogs (particularly the 1/4 inch foot) and it allows the fabric to get pulled to one side or the other. If your machine allows to move the needle, maybe you could try the regular foot for best feed dog contact and move the needle until you get the 1/4" measurement.

    Don't cry. It all works out in the end.
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 07-30-2018 at 05:48 AM. Reason: shouting/all caps

  19. #19
    Power Poster Onebyone's Avatar
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    bought all the 1/4 inch gadgets/feet to help me insure that I sew a 1/4 inch. Still no luck.
    If some of you seams are 1/4 in spots and different size in other spots then that will cause waves and curves when pressed. If your seam has to be constant width all the way from start to finish. The fabric should be starched and iron before cutting if you want to use starch. The Stripology ruler is great so I doubt that is your problem unless you are using it wrong. Cut paper instead of fabric with the ruler to see if your problem is in your fold.
    I believe giving what I can will never cause me to be in need.
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  20. #20
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    Thank you everyone for your kind generous assistance to my multitude of problem. I think I will definitely have to learn to "press" and not iron and I will have to do that before I cut my fabric. It has been a good few years since I have taken a quilt class. Maybe I am due for one!!! I will check out the suggested website tutorials and videos to refresh myself on these preliminary steps.
    After I wrote my "cry for help" note, I went to my favorite LQS. I was talking to the owner/quilter (she is quite talented and has won some awards for her quilts) about my problems. She suggested similar ideas as proposed on this board. I purchased some fabric and noted that even she an experienced quilter, still did not have a perfectly straight cut on the edge of the fabric I purchased. This made me feel a little better... Thus, I guess we are all humans.

  21. #21
    Power Poster Annaquilts's Avatar
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    Are you pressing after cutting? I spray to fabric with starch, wait for it to almost dry and then dry press. Don't iron too much as in moving the iron. Then carefully fold and cut. Do not iron after cutting except to press the seam.
    Anna Quilts

  22. #22
    Super Member Weezy Rider's Avatar
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    Take a good look at your fabric's grain before you do anything. Some fabrics can be wound off grain on the bolt.

    If it looks off, then tear a strip from selvedge to selvedge which will stay on grain. You can sometimes reblock fabric.

    I made quite a few colorblocked shirts using good quilting cotton. You see off grain when you lay out a clothing pattern.
    To be fair, it's usually the lower priced cottons that can be off, but if the cheaper cotton is the color and pattern you want, you use it.

  23. #23
    Power Poster twinkie's Avatar
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    I agree that spray and press should be a big help. Another thing I do is to place 3 strips of blue painters masking tape on top of each other 1/4" to the right of the needle. When my material hits the edge of that tape, that gives me an exact 1/4" seam. Good luck
    Last edited by twinkie; 05-16-2015 at 04:24 AM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Pudge's Avatar
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    Something else you might want to check - which I got help with myself from the board: is the height of your cutting table correct? Mine was too high and as I cut a strip I was losing control of my ruler. It was suggested that I lower the table surface a bit and make sure I was not standing too far right or left of the ruler. Correcting the table height and squaring my stance has made a HUGE difference in my strip cutting abilities.

  25. #25
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    Have you checked you cutter.....Is you blade sharp and is it sturdy...or is it wobbling in their holder? Still didn't hear if they wavy issue is before or after sewing......

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