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Thread: I always come up short...why?

  1. #1
    Super Member joym's Avatar
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    I always come up short...why?

    When I do a rail fence or another very similar pattern....when I turn the block around (vertically ), I am always short. Do you know why this happens? Sorry that I cannot post picture (another puzzlement).....not a good start this morning

  2. #2
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I am guessing that you need to check your seam allowance. Here's a good reference:
    http://www.quiltingboard.com/tutoria...ce-t89997.html

    With a rail fence, if you sew long strips then cut, rather than using the measurement in the pattern to cut the squares, measure the width of your sewn strip set and use that to cut the squares. If your seams are off this will compensate.
    Last edited by PaperPrincess; 01-17-2013 at 07:21 AM.
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  3. #3
    Super Member joym's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperPrincess View Post
    I am guessing that you need to check your seam allowance. Here's a good reference:
    http://www.quiltingboard.com/tutoria...ce-t89997.html
    Thanks for ur response. It is not the seam allowances.........there are only three pieces sewn together...each block is cut and sewn the same.....one goes horizontal and the other vertical....but when I turn the vertical one around to sew it to the horizontal one, it is always short....

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by joym View Post
    When I do a rail fence or another very similar pattern....when I turn the block around (vertically ), I am always short. Do you know why this happens? Sorry that I cannot post picture (another puzzlement).....not a good start this morning
    It sounds like the problem is in your seam. Measure your finished strip -- If the center strip is not 1/2 inch less than your cut measurement and your outer strips are not 1/4 inch less than your cut strip, your seam is too large. Just readjust your seam. If that doesn't work, make sure you have cut all your pieces accurately.

  5. #5
    Super Member willferg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joym View Post
    Thanks for ur response. It is not the seam allowances.........there are only three pieces sewn together...each block is cut and sewn the same.....one goes horizontal and the other vertical....but when I turn the vertical one around to sew it to the horizontal one, it is always short....
    Yep, it still sounds like the seam allowance is off. The horizontal side is just cut fabric with no seams, right, and the vertical side is the one with the seams? If your seams are just a tad too wide (easy enough to do), they use up too much fabric and leave your finished piece not wide enough.

    I struggled with this for a long time. At times I even cut my pieces a few shades bigger, which helped, but made it hard to keep track of over the course of many pieces. Finally I adjusted my needle and guide to make me sew less than a quarter inch by a shade or two, and now my results are more accurate.
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    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    The long edge of the horizontal will stretch, the ends of the strips do not stretch hardly at all. Be very careful when pressing the strips and try not to press the edges, just the seams. Even holding the strips when sewing can stretch them. The last strip block I made I cut the strips lengthwise and had much better results.
    Got fabric?

  7. #7
    Super Member mike'sgirl's Avatar
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    If your sewing machine is like mine, it does not remember the way it was set up when it is turned off and I have to reset any settings each time I turn my machine back on. My needle goes back to the preset position and I have to remember this and move it back to where I have a scant 1/4 inch seam. I hope this helps, and I would also do what Bellaboo said, about pressing. Good luck.

  8. #8
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    you must cut them into squares. same size horizontal as vertical. then no problem will occur.

  9. #9
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nativetexan View Post
    you must cut them into squares. same size horizontal as vertical. then no problem will occur.
    BINGO!!!! this way, if your seam width is not that accurate 1/4" you still get them cut in squares.

    That being said ... it is vital that all the seam widths of all the stratas be exactly the same, so that all the tri-sets are the same width. Then once you have them all the same width, cut the squares at the same width/length.
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  10. #10
    Super Member knlsmith's Avatar
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    My thoughts exactly.

    Quote Originally Posted by nativetexan View Post
    you must cut them into squares. same size horizontal as vertical. then no problem will occur.

  11. #11
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nativetexan View Post
    you must cut them into squares. same size horizontal as vertical. then no problem will occur.

    How easy to forget that some do not know this step. It never crossed my mine that it may not be squared up and that was causing the problem.
    Got fabric?

  12. #12
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    Sew your strips together and carefully press so that there all seams are completely pressed, no wrinkles/gathers/puckers.
    Measure the width of the sewn strip set several times down the length of the set.
    That measurement of the sewn strip set will determine the size of your subcuts. They are often a hair more or less than you thought they would be.

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  13. #13
    Super Member joym's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone.

    Jan, why do the instructions say to pre cut the three pieces that will be sewn together the same size?

  14. #14
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    Because the longer the strip you sew together the more chance there is for distortion in sewing and/or pressing. I have some 30" strips to sew for a Jinny Beyer DA VINCI quilt and know they will need extra care. Thanks for asking your question. The answers reminded me of some thing I need to be aware of for upcoming quilt.
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    Senior Member cattailsquilts's Avatar
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    I know you already have your answer, but I wanted to let you know you're not the only one!

    I have a set of UFO rail fence quilts that I started 10 years ago. I just picked up the completed strip sets for one of them, and I'm SO glad I measured before I started cross-cutting for my blocks! It seams (haha) that my scant 1/4" wasn't so scant 10 years ago, and my strip sets (full width of fabric) were pretty uneven. I just cut my blocks to be 6-3/8" (the width of my strip sets) instead of 6-1/2" (that they were supposed to be), and when I put the top together, everything was perfect.

    I'm hoping that the strips for the other quilt won't be so far off, since the sets aren't finished yet... Will see!

  16. #16
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joym View Post
    Thank you everyone.

    Jan, why do the instructions say to pre cut the three pieces that will be sewn together the same size?
    Because they are assuming you have cut the fabric correctly, and your seams are precise. You said your seams were OK, but did you double check using the instructions in this tutorial?

    http://www.quiltingboard.com/tutoria...ce-t89997.html
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  17. #17
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    Jan clarifies her previous post:
    I wasn't clear that when you measure the sewn strip set in several places, you average those measurements and determine from the average what size to cut ALL your subcuts. There will be some blocks that you will have to 'ease' a bit to fit their adjoining block, but "on average" more of your subcuts blocks will fit together than than if you don't do it this way.

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  18. #18
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    When you cut the blocks do you measure the width of your strip set, your cuts should equal that size. even if your seam length is off it should be somewhat consistent to each other and if you measure the width you can go off of that. My rail fence was much more accurate this way. Also your cutting of the strips needs to be consistent, if they are all different widths because of inaccurate cutting
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  19. #19
    Junior Member Janie67's Avatar
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    I had the same problem. I thought I was crazy! Lied is short don't make any more rail fence quilts. Lol

  20. #20
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    I absolutely love the Quilting Board. It is the best quilting resource of all times. I have learned so much here and continue to learn something new every day. To me it's better than going to a class. It is a class! My sincere thanks to everyone for your expertise and knowledge that you so willingly share. I love the article on achieving an accurate quarter inch seam and can't wait to try it. You ladies are the best teachers of all!
    Last edited by luciab; 01-18-2013 at 07:31 AM.

  21. #21
    Senior Member mollymunchkin's Avatar
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    I just finished a doll quilt top for the Jan DQ swap. I used the twist pattern. To make sure everything turned out okay. I measured after every seam. Then I measured again. AND a third time, just to be sure. (I am really good friends with my seam ripper) Then I squared the blocks. Measuring and squaring have helped me so much in matching seams and getting the results I want.

  22. #22
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I have made several rail fence quilts. I use Marti Mitchell's book and have had no problems. I don't remember which book it is. You have gotten some good answers here. I have a problem sometimes sewing exact size seams together. I perfer the strip method, when possible.
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  23. #23
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    I always cut strips WOF, then after sewing 3 together, cut them apart. I've found that my results are much more accurate this way.

  24. #24
    Super Member Girlfriend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luciab View Post
    I absolutely love the Quilting Board. It is the best quilting resource of all times. I have learned so much here and continue to learn something new every day. To me it's better than going to a class. It is a class! My sincere thanks to everyone for your expertise and knowledge that you so willingly share. I love the article on achieving an accurate quarter inch seam and can't wait to try it. You ladies are the best teachers of all!
    I can't agree with you more. I love this board. Thank you, all of you, out there!

  25. #25
    Junior Member DeAnne-Mn.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BellaBoo View Post
    The long edge of the horizontal will stretch, the ends of the strips do not stretch hardly at all. Be very careful when pressing the strips and try not to press the edges, just the seams. Even holding the strips when sewing can stretch them. The last strip block I made I cut the strips lengthwise and had much better results.
    Thanks, that makes sense to me now. I'll give it a try again.
    DeAnne

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