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Sewing with strip sets for rail fence quilt blocks

Sewing with strip sets for rail fence quilt blocks

Old 02-18-2018, 06:10 PM
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Default Sewing with strip sets for rail fence quilt blocks

Rail fence blocks should be one of the easiest of blocks....right?

Even though I am an experienced quilter, I struggle with getting accurate cuts from strip sets. It all has to do with the pressing, I think.

I know that when sewing strip sets that I need to alternate the direction in which I sew each strip. For example, I sew the first 2 strips together---and then when I sew on the 3rd strip, I start at the opposite end from where I started with the first seam. I think that this helps eliminate some of the waviness that sometimes occurs with strip sets after they are pressed.

Nevertheless, my long strip sets still sometimes have a bit of wave to them, and then when I subcut them into sections (like for a rail fence block), I still sometimes struggle to get them cut accurately into my targeted length because there is still sometimes a bit of a wave or because they don't lie as flat as I would like them to.

I've even experimented with doing the subcutting Before I press the strip set, but that's usually not the greatest, either.

Give me tips! What works well for you? Should I starch the heck out of the strips before cutting? Should I work with shorter strip sets? I would love to hear your good advice.


Last edited by QuiltnNan; 02-18-2018 at 08:58 PM. Reason: remove shouting/all caps
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Old 02-18-2018, 06:37 PM
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Work with shorter strip sets. I had the same problem and thought, "what the heck? This is supposed to be the easiest, most efficient way on the planet to make strip sets." THey were long. I put the pedal to the metal. I got waves a lot of times. Now I use not more than 20" at a time, and make sure both strips are just about the same length to start with.
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Old 02-18-2018, 06:43 PM
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Ditto what Zozee said....plus, I'm sure I don't have to say this because you are a great quilter but...no steam and I, typically, don't press the first seam until the strip set is done. I just finger press the first seam. That way all the fabric is pressed at once and leaving little chance for distortions. That's my 2 cents.
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Old 02-18-2018, 06:46 PM
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I usually spray starch my strips before pressing, then use a marked line on my ruler to line up on those seams to ensure the block will be cut on the square. There are times when this means the last cutting needs to be trimmed to make the next block square. Spraying seems to help keep the strips straight while ironing.
Also try a tad looser thread tension as too tight can gather the fabric a little creating waving.
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Old 02-18-2018, 06:47 PM
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Try pressing as you go. Establish a straight line on your ironing board: use a long metal ruler, cover your ironing surface with a fabric with a woven stripe or take a thin cord and tie it to both ends of your ironing board. Seam 2 strips together. Align the edge with whatever you've used to get the straight line and carefully set the seam. Open the seamed piece up and press, again using your guide to keep it straight. I usually press with the seam to the dark, but you can also experiment with pressing it open. Take it back to your machine and add the next strip, press and repeat.
I saw this on a you tube video, but I can't find it now...
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Old 02-18-2018, 07:40 PM
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I find that heavy starching and shorter strip sets helps. I also press as I go and measure and adjust if necessary before adding the next strip.
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Old 02-18-2018, 08:42 PM
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I never use starch. I cut all my strips WOF. I sew strips together in opposite directions. When I press seams to dark side I press diagonally, never across the rows, never along the strips. I have no ripples or waves. I learned this years ago. I did a pattern out of a Lynette Jensen quilting book. This is how she said to press strip sets. It works well for me.
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Old 02-18-2018, 09:48 PM
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I don't sew mine from alternate directions and my strips are not wavy. My first question would be, "Is the presser foot pressure too firm?" If I tried to sew a strip set on my Elna that has no presser foot adjustment, it would not go well. My piecing machines are only tight enough so that the feed dogs can advance the fabric.
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Old 02-18-2018, 10:15 PM
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I would starch my fabric and cut/sew on the straight of grain. Then i would reduce foot pressure and adjust thread tension. Press with no steam. If you still have wavy issues, cut oversize and square blocks by trimming to correct block size.
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Old 02-18-2018, 11:55 PM
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Agree with others about starching before cutting, making shorter strip sets, etc. Also, Bloc Loc has a strip set ruler specifically designed to help with your kind of problem. Here is a link to a video demo of it:
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