Saturday 18 January 2014

Fishtails - a little 'how-to'

Reading a blog earlier today, I saw that the writer had been having trouble cutting 'fishtails' into the end of a sentiment strip without the use of a safety net die. In fact her card looked fabulous with just straight ends to the sentiment strip but at the risk of seeming like granny and sucking eggs it took me until about six months ago to think of doing this. Musing here, I thought of geometry at school - you know, right angles and such. So this is how I cut my fishtails now - taking any guesswork out of the process:

1. Stamp your sentiment onto a piece of card, as straight as possible to make trimming in the next step easier.

2. Cut the sentiment strip to the width you want - if possible make it an even number of millimetres (or fractions of an inch) wide, I cut mine to 20 mm wide ie. top to bottom.

3. Decide how close you want to cut to the actual sentiment at each end and draw vertical pencil lines across the strip. Then, measuring carefully draw another vertical line outside of the measured strip- half the width of the strip away. So, my strip is 20mm wide and so the right hand line here is 10mm outside the lines I first drew. Then, measuring carefully again, bisect the panel you have pencilled inhorizontally - ie, exactly in half - which was 10mm again for me.

4.Draw, still using a ruler, lines diagonally across the two sections you just created in the photo above. Due to the wonders of maths, I now have a 90 degree angle in the inner part of the fishtail.

5. Trim off the straight ends (I do use a trimmer for this bit) and then carefully snip with small scissors along those diagonal lines you just drew.

6. All that's left is to use an eraser to rub away any pencil lines - and I coloured in the flower :)

OK, maybe it was really obvious and most of you do it already :( Of course, for more elongated fishtails, at step 3. you would just draw your vertical outside line further away. But you would still bisect the panel precisely in half across the middle of course.

A couple of other things, I just grabbed a quite hard pencil to draw the lines so the camera would pick them up - a soft pencil and a light touch rubs out much better! Plus, you could always do the pencilling and cutting on the reverse of the strip - I like to see what's going on though and a soft pencil and light touch works for me :)

If I want to layer the sentiment onto a background piece of contrasting card I just cut a slightly longer and wider strip, stick the fishtail on leaving a border round the three straight edges and then cut a V, usually without measuring. If you want to measure you only need the centre of the V in the fishtail - draw a line outwards from there and cut even snips on either side to the line.

Class closed for today - now go and play on the swings whilst muttering 'Silly old bat, we all do that trick!'

Edit: Am giggling here at comments already made about just eyeballing and snipping or even using a square or hexagonal punch - trust me, I have problems sticking a stamp on an envelope straight - plus I suffer from OCD :)



  1. Brilliant Di - thank you.


  2. Great tip for this little peabrain! Makes total sense when you read come I never thought of that!
    Thanks for the fishtails are always crooked!

  3. BRILL!

    I also read a tip about using a hexagon punch ......


  4. Very precise of you. I am full of admiration.

    Trouble is . . . I'm LAZY! I just eyeball the centre of the strip (on the reverse) then put a pencil dot there and cut across to it diagonally from each edge! See, told you I was lazy! xxx

  5. Of course, if I had a square punch . . . I could always use the corner of that . . . but I don't have one! So I go dotty instead! xxx

  6. You're fantastic! Would never think to involve math in this & what a great tutorial you created. Looked so simple the way you do it! I recently learned that you can use a square punch & put the strip in a certain way to achieve this. I'll try this & see how I do! Thanks Miss! You get to stay at the head of the class! Happy Wkend.

  7. To do it on ribbon you can fold the ribbon in half and make one diagonal snip.
    (Of course you have to remember which way the diagonal needs to go otherwise you get a point not a fishtail... and that's very annoying!)

  8. Thank you Di for this brilliant tip as it was me who is the dunce and can't cut my fishtails!
    Shall I go and sit at the back of the class now? !! LOL!!
    I will give this a try and let you know. xx

  9. Great technique, Di! Thank you!

    love Mags B x

  10. I tried to leave you a comment on your blog earlier but Blogger did not like me this evening. What I wanted to say was that your little tutorial about cutting fishtails is so good. If you are worried about OCD, you would probably like to ready one of Barbara's recent blog posts - xx
    xx Maggie

  11. This is fabulous Di, thanks for sharing.
    Sue xx

  12. Thanks for those messages, Di. I had to think a bit harder about the Geordie. The Brummie ones come a little more naturally. Did you hear this week that someone has analysed Richard III's writing and decided that he would have spoken in a Brummie accent. How did he come to that conclusion, I wonder. xx Maggie
    PS sorry I missed the playground again this week but I am off to visit grandchildren tomorrow, and I spent today making inroads into my craft room. Everything that has been taken upstairs has been thrown into there creating a total disaster area.

  13. Di-That is a reall good tip,thank you :) I have to admit to "eyeballing" mine-well,to be honest I eyeball a lot of things(only in a crafty context your realise LOL!!) and then wonder why I have wonky things!!
    One of my new year resolutions is to use my Stampamajig thingy from Stampin Up to make sure that I get my stamped greetings in a straight line-repeat after me more eyeballing!!
    Hugs,Nessa xxx

  14. Can I send The Doc round to stick yer stamps on for yer. Eyeballing it is not an option with im. Just makes sure you leave plenty of time for actually sending the card mind!!!
    Hugs Mrs A.
    p.s. I just put a middle dot on the reverse of the tag and then snip a slant form the outer edge to the dot. Learnt that a SU party.

  15. Sometimes I just draw a dot in the center (which would be 10 mm on your example) and then use the scissors from both corners to cut up to it. Some days I can tell I'm not going to be any good at that so I do it your method.

    Have you seen those folks who use the corner of a square punch to make theirs???! Looks too technical for me. And fiddly! Let's not forget fiddly.

  16. I draw a dot in the centre of the banner and then use my square punch to snip it out in one quick clunk! Accurate every time (and not technical at all Princess Judy I promise!) Vicky x

  17. Great info, never for one minute would have thought of bringing maths into it.
    I do the same as Princess Judy, works some days but not other. I now have a back up, thank you


  18. Just followed your link from the Snippet post Di, and am chuckling too - I'm one of the square punch users ... well, most of the time, but I have been known to eyeball it when in a hurry :) Hugs, Elizabeth xx


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