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Thread: Why are my 1 inch strips bowing after being sewn? They are smiling at me.

  1. #1
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    Why are my 1 inch strips bowing after being sewn? They are smiling at me.

    I am sewing a large number of 10 inch long by 1 inch wide 2 and 3 strip sets. The background strip is a regular cotton and the other strips are Hoffman batiks. When I sew 2 strips together, they come out of the sewing machine slightly bowed. The center spot is bowed down (so it looks like a smile when placed on the cutting board the same side up and was sewn) by 1/8 of an inch. I am wonder if there is something I should be doing or changing that would prevent that.

    I am using a new sharp 70/10 needle that was recommended to me for use with my batiks.

    I am using Connecting Threads thread which is 50 weight.

    Is there something that will stop this from happening or do you just need to correct it by straightening out the piece gently when you set it to press?

  2. #2
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    Can you post some photos? That may help show what you are talking about.

    I've had problems with bowing when I sew several strips together until I learned to sew from alternating sides/ends of the strip sets. But since you are only sewing 2 strips, that shouldn't be the problem.

  3. #3
    Senior Member QuiltingCrazie's Avatar
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    Sounds wired but did you lay a strip out to see if it's cut perfectly straight. I usually lay a strip down on the counting mat and make sure it's all straight....were human it happens!! Ask me how I know!
    *Rachel*

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    If your ruler has been used a lot - it may also have a curve in it -

    Is your seam allowance the same width for the length of the whole strip?

  5. #5
    Super Member ArtsyOne's Avatar
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    It could be one of two things and it always drives me nuts. If the balance of the tension is off, then over the course of several inches there is less bobbin thread being used than top thread, so the straight line of your edges becomes curved. What I usually do is to lay the strip on my table and then run my fingernail along the seam to pull more bobbin thread through the length of the seam; it seems to help. Also, if your strips are not cut exactly on the straight of grain it can result in the bowing. You're not alone.
    A fabric stash is always missing that one fabric needed to finish the quilt on which you're working.

  6. #6
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    Are you careful not to stretch the top strip as you sew them together. It is very easy to stretch the top strip as you are trying to keep them straight.
    Sue

  7. #7
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    Can I just correct this by gently curving them back into a straight line before pressing? I have tried increasing and decreasing tension and they still came out the same. I tried feeding them batik on top for some and the other fabric on top for the others and they all stilled bowed slightly the same. All my strips are within a hair of 1 inch and do lay out straight on the cutting matt before sewing.

  8. #8
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    You might be able to press them straight. Make sure you're not pulling the strip as you're sewing - I've done that. If you have a walking foot, you might try that to see if it helps prevent the bowing.

    Also, if you're sewing more than 2 strips together, alternate the ends where you start. In other words, when you sew strip A to strip B, start at the north end, then when you sew strip C, start at the south end.

  9. #9
    Super Member AliKat's Avatar
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    I would add:
    - is your material not on the straight of grain, but biased a bit?
    - are you using a seam guide or a flanged foot?
    - are you using any starch or Best Press sort of thing, which helps prevent this.

    I love my Pfaff because of the IDT -integrated dual technology. It is like have 2 sets of feed dogs, top and bottom, so I don't stretch my fabric when I sew.

    ali
    Have fun quilting! If it isn't fun, you will miss a lot.
    ali

  10. #10
    Senior Member Chester the bunny's Avatar
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    I find that batiks have such a tighter weave than your standard cotton that perhaps having one "stretchier" than the other is causing a problem. Not usually when you are sewing simple squares together, but long strips maybe....
    Although I like the look of batiks, I find working with it to be unforgiving because there is no give.

    Carole

  11. #11
    Super Member QuilterMomma's Avatar
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    Are you sewing the whole length of the fabric, 40" or did you cut them in half and sew 20". That is one important thing that Mary Sue Collins talks about in sewing small strips of fabric. Also, if there is still a problem at 20" decrease the length one more time. Less chance of the above comments to occur. I have done several of these strips, I love bargellos, and this can happen with larger pieces as well because something just was not cut correct to begin with. Another thought might be the top pressure coming down on the presser foot to the fabric, you may want to either increase the pressure or decrease. Did you starch your fabric before cutting? This would eliminate any stretching that might be happening. If you ahve cut them, then go ahead and give them a starching and ONLY PRESS!!!!! no ironing. That should allow some stability in your fabric and will match up with that batik you are working with. let us know how it goes again.
    Life is short, live it while you still can. QuilterMomma

  12. #12
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    I used to have this problem a lot (and I was sewing a LOT of 1" strips) and then I got a different machine that has a built in walking foot. I started using the walking foot (with the 1/4" guide) to piece and I will never piece without it again!!

    I suspect that your fabric is not feeding evenly, not by a lot, but enough to create the bow. Since I started using the walking foot I haven't seen a bow.

    Yes, you can finger press it to get the bow out, then press the seam flat (before you open it). When you are ready to press the seam open be very careful to make sure you keep it straight. I know your supposed to iron open seams from the middle and work your way out ... but when I have a bowed seam it's easier for me to finger crease the seam open, hold one end of the fabric with my left hand (hold it flat against the board), and press open starting at the right side and "walking" the iron toward my left hand. You have to make sure that you don't twist or pull the fabric and take it off the straight line while ironing.

    If you don't have a walking foot ... try pinning the strips. And when you pin put one pin in perpendicular to the seam and the next pin horizontal to the seam line (but out far enough so it doesn't interfere with your foot). I learned this trick from Sally Collins, but after using my walking foot I rarely pin anymore.
    May your stitches always be straight, your seams always lie flat, and your grain never be biased against you.

    Sue

  13. #13
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    I agree with the walking foot suggestion, though I would pin even when using it, especially because you are sewing a batik to a regular cotton and the thread count is very different from one to the other. My guess is that they are not feeding evenly for that reason.
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

  14. #14
    Super Member LivelyLady's Avatar
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    Did you try starching your fabric before cutting the strips? I starch mine till it's almost cardboard stiffing and the cuts are perfect; also, the starch prevents the fabric from stretching when sewing strips together.
    When you sleep under a quilt, you sleep under a blanket of love.

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    Machines that do not have dual feed - the bottom layer next to the feed dogs frequently feed in that layer a bit faster/more - that's why 'in the olden days' the layer that was to be eased was on the bottom.

  16. #16
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    1" strips bowing

    Quote Originally Posted by Chester the bunny View Post
    I find that batiks have such a tighter weave than your standard cotton that perhaps having one "stretchier" than the other is causing a problem. Not usually when you are sewing simple squares together, but long strips maybe....
    Although I like the look of batiks, I find working with it to be unforgiving because there is no give.

    Carole
    I have found when cutting strips WOF that I sometimes have to stop and measure to see that I'm cutting straight from the fabric and even it up before I start again. It seems along the fold it will get off a bit.

  17. #17
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    Strips cut from length of fabric stretch less. DH and I have started cutting 20" of fabric or whatever works for the pattern you are using and cutting our strips from the lengthwise grain of the fabric instead of the width of fabric
    Cheryl Robinson
    http://www.silverneedlestitching.com
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  18. #18
    Senior Member rush88888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DogHouseMom View Post
    I used to have this problem a lot (and I was sewing a LOT of 1" strips) and then I got a different machine that has a built in walking foot. I started using the walking foot (with the 1/4" guide) to piece and I will never piece without it again!!

    I suspect that your fabric is not feeding evenly, not by a lot, but enough to create the bow. Since I started using the walking foot I haven't seen a bow.

    Yes, you can finger press it to get the bow out, then press the seam flat (before you open it). When you are ready to press the seam open be very careful to make sure you keep it straight. I know your supposed to iron open seams from the middle and work your way out ... but when I have a bowed seam it's easier for me to finger crease the seam open, hold one end of the fabric with my left hand (hold it flat against the board), and press open starting at the right side and "walking" the iron toward my left hand. You have to make sure that you don't twist or pull the fabric and take it off the straight line while ironing.

    If you don't have a walking foot ... try pinning the strips. And when you pin put one pin in perpendicular to the seam and the next pin horizontal to the seam line (but out far enough so it doesn't interfere with your foot). I learned this trick from Sally Collins, but after using my walking foot I rarely pin anymore.
    don't forget - when pinning on batiks, the hole of the pin might remain. i would suggest pinning on or within the seam allowance.

  19. #19
    Junior Member marybs's Avatar
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    it's also important to switch directions when sewing strips. If you sewed the first to strips down one direction then on the next strip sew up direction.

  20. #20
    Super Member gardnergal970's Avatar
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    I agree with Silver Needle and try to always cut strips the length of the fabric and even then, I take steps to cut on the straight of the grain. Just because it's laying straight on the cutting board, doesn't mean that the threads are lined up straight. I have had smiley strips particularly when I cut a fold and the threads weren't straight even if the edges of the fabric were.

  21. #21
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    Check your strips before you sew. Unfold them and see if there is a bow near the fold. If there is you are not cutting straight of grain. I tear (yes, tear!) my ends first and get straight of grain. Starching is very very helpful when sewing. Don't sew too fast.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Judi in Ohio's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=AngelinaMaria;5497701]I am sewing a large number of 10 inch long by 1 inch wide 2 and 3 strip sets. The background strip is a regular cotton and the other strips are Hoffman batiks. When I sew 2 strips together, they come out of the sewing machine slightly bowed. The center spot is bowed down (so it looks like a smile when placed on the cutting board the same side up and was sewn) by 1/8 of an inch. I am wonder if there is something I should be doing or changing that would prevent that.





    Do not sew from the same side every time. Switch sides it will fix it right up - if your strips are all even. I have found some of my earlier strips were not cut as well as I do now.
    Judi
    Judi in Ohio

  23. #23
    Super Member LindaR's Avatar
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    they will bow if they are all sewn from the same end when you add a new strip...reverse the edge you sew on and you will notice the difference. try it
    Retired and living in NE Michigan

  24. #24
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    When you press the strips, let them cool before picking them up from the ironing board. If the strips are held up, they will bow.

  25. #25
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    Maybe setting your seams before you press would help. Once I started doing this I have had better results.
    A friend is someone who knows all about you and loves you anyway.

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