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Curved seams in my strip sets

by Elaine DeFoor
(Stuart, FL)

My strips do not have curves and my machine has a great 1/4" foot that makes perfect seams. My eight 14 1/2" strips look great sewn together before I press.

I use a dry iron but once ironed the seams are curved, giving the block a strange shape that cannot be cut nicely into a 14" square.

I have made several strip quilts but never had this problems.

Anyone have any ideas?

I am stumped.


Hi Elaine!

This happens to the best of us—so you're in good company...not happy-camper company...but good company nevertheless!

It sounds like something commonly referred to as 'rainbowing'. Your strip set is curved like a rainbow.

What's happened is that as you've pressed, you've pushed the strips a bit and they've held that position once cool.

There are two ways to prevent this from happening.

  1. Pin a tape measure to your ironing board cover in a straight line. You could mark a line on your cover, too, but I'm always worried that the ink will transfer off when I least expect it. Or you may have a cover with straight lines already marked on it...all the better. Then as you press, with steam or not, keep the long edge of the strip set even with this line. Or...

  2. Press your strip sets perpendicular to the length of your ironing board. You'll have to move them more often to press the full length, but much less bowing occurs when you're pressing left to right instead of away from you.

As to the current state of your strips, you may be able to block them straight with steam. Basically press them into submission following a straight line. Steam the living daylights out of them, and then don't move them until they are completely cool and dry. This may work but will depend on how bowed they are.

Again, I think every quilter has or will have this happen at one time or another. We love what we're doing so much, we add a bit too much gusto to our work!

Thank you for your question. I hope this has helped!


Julie Baird
Generations Quilt Patterns

Comments for Curved seams in my strip sets

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by: Anonymous

Thank you for your help.

I'm sewing my quilt by hand and am having trouble with the curved strips. I was about ready to throw in the towel. I am having another problem with my strips not coming out even. Although they were cut exactly by the pattern.

What am I doing wrong?

Julie replies...The first thing I'd do is double check the pattern. And especially if you needed to copy it.

You did say you are hand quilting.

While I'm not a hand quilter, I am a garment seamstress (sewing before I could cross the street by myself :D ) and if I was having problems with things not ending up as they were meant to, I'd add registration marks. In garment sewing, they're the notches.

I'm assuming you've used templates to cut your patches so that you are marking the stitching line and then cutting to add the seam allowance.

For quilting, you'd go back to your pattern and add short lines, perpendicular to the stitching line on two adjacent patches. These short lines match up on both patches. (This is easiest if your block is a single drawing that you cut apart on the sewing lines.)

As you trace around each template, then put a mirroring perpendicular line in the seam allowance. Use a pin or two to match these points together as you sew.

Does that make sense?

~ Julie

Curved Seams
by: Elaine DeFoor

Julie thanks for your answer and it is what I thought at first but then I thought you are using a new machine "dumbie" read the book. There are about 300 settings on this machine and apparently each foot has several settings except the 1/4" foot - it causes curved seams unless you set it on Quilting, Stitch 93 once I did this my blocks have been perfect. I forgot to set it only once since and it caused the seam to curve. It seems like magic to me because I don't hear the machine do anything and the needle doesn't change but it works.

The wealth of knowledge I have received from your website is priceless.

Thank you so much. Elaine

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