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Thread: Finding straight of grain

  1. #1
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    I am having a little trouble finding the straight of grain. Usually I just fold the fabric so the selvages meet, then adjust by moving the fabric layers to the left/right of each other until the fabric hangs straight at the fold without a twist or wrinkle. Then I trim the cut edges by cutting them at a 90 degree angle with my ruler and rotary cutter on the cutting mat. Never have a problem with anything coming out wonky.

    However, always looking for a better or more correct way to do things, I thought I would try pulling a thread across the width, but it kept breaking after about an inch of pulling so I gave up.

    Then I tried tearing the fabric along the width which worked beautifully. I ironed the torn edges, folded the fabric, lining up the cut edges, and it lay perfectly flat - success!

    But the selvages didn't meet! They met on one side but were 1/2" apart on the other.

    On top of that, the design (a floral stripe) was really crooked parallel to the torn edge, but was almost perfectly straight at a 90 degree angle to the selvage.

    I'm so totally confused that I'm sorry I ever tried to do it the "better" way.

    What would you do? How do you find the straight of grain?

  2. #2
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    I'm interested to hear what is said.

    Ditto to what you said about matching selvedges and then folding smooth ... though not always the cross and length is "squared".

    In 4-H we were taught how to straighten fabric .. though I never hear of folks doing that.

    By the time we slice and dice all our fabrics and then put them back together again ... and then quilt .... perhaps it doesn't matter?

    I don't know .. and will look to follow the discussion.

  3. #3
    MTS
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    Your first method is the one I always use.
    As I have to get a straight edge anyway, I might as well get the straight of grain at the same time.

    I hate ripping - it's like nails on a blackboard to me. They do it that way at a LQS, and also at the G Street stores.

    The pulling thread method is a PITA and takes too long. This was the method used at MaryJo's.

    I'll stick to method one. ;-)

  4. #4
    Super Member grann of 6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carol's Quilts
    I am having a little trouble finding the straight of grain. Usually I just fold the fabric so the selvages meet, then adjust by moving the fabric layers to the left/right of each other until the fabric hangs straight at the fold without a twist or wrinkle. Then I trim the cut edges by cutting them at a 90 degree angle with my ruler and rotary cutter on the cutting mat. Never have a problem with anything coming out wonky.

    However, always looking for a better or more correct way to do things, I thought I would try pulling a thread across the width, but it kept breaking after about an inch of pulling so I gave up.

    Then I tried tearing the fabric along the width which worked beautifully. I ironed the torn edges, folded the fabric, lining up the cut edges, and it lay perfectly flat - success!

    But the selvages didn't meet! They met on one side but were 1/2" apart on the other.

    On top of that, the design (a floral stripe) was really crooked parallel to the torn edge, but was almost perfectly straight at a 90 degree angle to the selvage.

    I'm so totally confused that I'm sorry I ever tried to do it the "better" way.

    What would you do? How do you find the straight of grain?
    I am an apparel sewer and home dec sewer so straight of grain is very important to me. First of all, if you want to get a true straight of grain you need to wash the fabric first to get all the sizing out from the manufacturing. Then do as your first method. Sometimes you need to pull the fabric from opposing corners to straighten out the grain. As far as your floral stripe, is it a woven stripe or a printed stripe. If it is the same colors front and back it is woven, if it is pale on the back it is printed stripe. In this case the stripe may not have been applied to the fabric in a true straight of grain. In most quilting fabrics that have a stripe, you have to ignore the perfectly lined up stripe and concentrate on the floral aspect of it. When I use stripes in quilting I like to use it for bias or as a crosswise stripe. Then you don't notice the discrepincies (sp?) in the grain. Hope this helps.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Pat M.'s Avatar
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    Sometimes the pattern is not printed on the grain. You are probably on the grain. Sometimes my fabric is 1-2" off when I line up the selvages, usually there is a longer and shorter side, [on the selvage] so hold up your fabric, align your selvages. That should be pretty straight. Trim and then cut a strip, lay it out and see if it has a whacky curve on the fold. If it does, adjust again. There are several good books on this problem.

  6. #6
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    You did it correctly, however the striped print was printed off grain. This happens from time to time :(

    I don't worry about selvages meeting, as long as I have the straight of grain correct :D:D:D

  7. #7
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    Thank you all SO much for your input and all your great ideas and comments. Yes, I washed the fabric first, it is 100% cotton and the design is printed on, not woven in. (I knew that the printed design is not really to be considered when determining straight of grain, so I usually avoid buying obvious, predominant stripes. Once this fabric is cut and pieced with others, the stripe will hardly be noticeable - just the overall design.)

    I've always been afraid to straighten the grain by pulling the fabric - I figured it would just return to it original grainline through handling and laundering, but I guess I was wrong. I will keep this in mind the next time the problem arises with a fabric whose design is woven in. Thanks for reminding me it's OK to do this.

    In the meantime, I am going to stick with my original idea and just go by the selvages. I am very comfortable with doing it that way, and it seems to work for me, so I guess "if it ain't broke.......".

    Thank you again. I knew the great people on this board would point me in the right direction.

  8. #8
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    Thank you all SO much for your input and all your great ideas and comments. Yes, I washed the fabric first, it is 100% cotton and the design is printed on, not woven in. (I knew that the printed design is not really to be considered when determining straight of grain, so I usually avoid buying obvious, predominant stripes. Once this fabric is cut and pieced with others, the stripe will hardly be noticeable - just the overall design.)

    I've always been afraid to straighten the grain by pulling the fabric - I figured it would just return to it original grainline through handling and laundering, but I guess I was wrong. I will keep this in mind the next time the problem arises with a fabric whose design is woven in. Thanks for reminding me it's OK to do this.

    In the meantime, I am going to stick with my original idea and just go by the selvages. I am very comfortable with doing it that way, and it seems to work for me, so I guess "if it ain't broke.......".

    Thank you again. I knew the great people on this board would point me in the right direction.

  9. #9
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    Sorry, didn't mean for this to post twice.

  10. #10
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    One other method you could try is your normal #1 method. Once you have as close to straight of grain as possible with that method, then pull threads off the cut end until you get a single, long strand the WOF. It's not quite as tedious as trying to pull the thread out of these very tightly woven cottons but can still be a messy pain. But you will get a true straight of grain then - if it's really critical to you. Then, as you say, when printing of the design is not...you have to decide with factor is more important for you.

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