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Thread: Cutting large pieces of fabric

  1. #1
    Super Member annesthreads's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    South Yorkshire UK

    Cutting large pieces of fabric

    I'm asking a series of quite basic questions at the moment, just to see what methods and ideas you brilliant quilters come up with. I already have several good new tips.

    So - now I'm faced with a 4 metre (over 4 yards) length of fabric, which I need to cut to use as a backing. I'm feeling wary because I recently had problems after finding that I hadn't had some fabric lined up absolutely straight before I cut into it. Sometimes it's difficult to find a straight line as a starting point to match up on the cutting board if the selvedges aren't straight and the fabric hasn't been cut straight when taken off the bolt. And, of course, it's just difficult to work with a long piece of fabric - folding, lining up, cutting.

    Any hints or tips?

  2. #2
    Power Poster
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Ontario, Canada
    ​The only time I rip fabric is when I need to do long borders. I will rip off the width I need down the whole length but with an inch to spare. After ripping I fold it up and trim the ripped edge off. If I need to cut lengths, I always use my large 15 inch square lined up on the fold to prevent V mistakes in the length.

  3. #3
    Senior Member luvstoquilt301's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Phoenix AZ
    I just tear larger pieces. BUT you must be sure you have some extra as you will sometimes lose yardage when doing this.
    I don't think I would be successful cutting it perfectly.

  4. #4
    Power Poster
    Join Date
    May 2008
    I think it is important to follow grainlines - because I think a quilt, blanket, sheet, towel, handkerchief - is easier to fold neatly when it is cut on-grain.

    First, I wash and dry the fabric to see what it wants to do "on its own."

    Then I look carefully to see what I have for grain lines on the ends.

    If I have "extra" - I will tear it to get an on-grain edge. Tearing does cause trauma to the ends. Sometimes the damage can extend several inches into the fabric.

    If I have to be careful with what I have available - I will pull a thread - which is tedious - but it does work.

    I do remove the selvages from backing material. Most selvages are more tightly woven than the rest of the fabric - and some of them shrink a lot more than the rest of the fabric. So they get cut off.

    If only a scant amount of fabric is available - then I suppose you will have to "make do" with what you have.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    I too tear usually but always make sure I have a bit extra and usually the torn part is the extra inches on either side of the backing since I like my backings at least 3 inches larger on all sides.

  6. #6
    Power Poster sewbizgirl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    I always rip large pieces... for backs or for borders. It's fast and it's accurate.
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  7. #7
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    western NY formerly MN, FL, NC, SC
    Blog Entries
    I've become a fan of ripping/tearing lately, too.
    Nancy in western NY
    before you speak THINK
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  8. #8
    Super Member Doggramma's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    I also rip to get it straight especially for a large piece of backing

    trying to stay grateful

  9. #9
    Super Member Cari-in-Oly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Victorian Sweatshop Forum
    I don't like to rip fabric, call me weird. For piecing a backing, I just fold it in half and cut it with scissors on the fold line. Since it will be sewn on the selvedge edge, it doesn't matter if the cut is perfectly straight.


  10. #10
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    If the fabric is printed, it may be printed off grain. So tearing wouldn't work with those unless it does not matter if the print is on grain too. I learned this the hard way. sigh.

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