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Thread: Tearing Fabric to Straighten Grain

  1. #1
    Junior Member yweinst's Avatar
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    Tearing Fabric to Straighten Grain

    So I started teaching myself how to sew last year and I've come a far way but I decided to relearn how to quilt from step one and bought the quilter's academy books.

    I am now on the first set of lessons and am learning how to tear fabric to straighten it.

    I have a quick question Harriet suggest working in short yardages of 1/2 yard or less. Is this just for the practice part or does she mean even when you are doing this for a project to use 1/2 yardage or less. It seems that that could create a significant waste of fabric....

    If anyone knows the answer I would appreciate it.

    Thanks,
    Yael

  2. #2
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    No, I would say. I would not waste it that way at all with the price of fabric these days. I would straighten one edge, pull from corner to corner (take a yard or 1/2 yard without cutting ) until it lays straight. Some books say one thing, but the fabric says another. Start cutting at that edge. Of course cut off the selvages. Sometimes you need the yardage along the selvages to make a border and this is much longer then the crossgrain from selvage to selvage. Use the book but also use your common sense. I do not have the book since I have been sewing/quilting for 40 some years, and sometimes a quilter can quilt and sew but cannot explain her idea. Go with what feels right to you, or again, ask and I know you will get lots of answers. Have fun, that is what it is all about. Are you working on getting a blue ribbon in a big show? I'm not. I put a lovely painted Iris in a show without borders and it was shot down and the judges wrote a not-too-well-received remark, but I have a flowered rug under the antique bed that the quilt is on and to me, that is the border. It is all in the eye of the beholder. Truly, enjoy quilting, don't let other people influence you too much. I don't anymore. If my children and grandchildren like my quilts and paintings, that is all the love and laughs I need.

  3. #3
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yweinst View Post
    So I started teaching myself how to sew last year and I've come a far way but I decided to relearn how to quilt from step one and bought the quilter's academy books.

    I am now on the first set of lessons and am learning how to tear fabric to straighten it.

    I have a quick question Harriet suggest working in short yardages of 1/2 yard or less. Is this just for the practice part or does she mean even when you are doing this for a project to use 1/2 yardage or less. It seems that that could create a significant waste of fabric....

    If anyone knows the answer I would appreciate it.

    Thanks,
    Yael
    Tearing it doesn't really straighten the grain but it does help you find the straight of grain. I usually tear off multiples of what ever my cut is. For example if I need 6 inch cuts and I need 4 of them I'd tear off about 26 inches. The two extra inches are so I can cut off the torn edges.

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    Try watching The Great British Sewing Bee on youtube and learn a lot of basic 'Musts' about sewing . It is an incredible site!

  5. #5
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yweinst View Post
    So I started teaching myself how to sew last year and I've come a far way but I decided to relearn how to quilt from step one and bought the quilter's academy books.

    I am now on the first set of lessons and am learning how to tear fabric to straighten it.

    I have a quick question Harriet suggest working in short yardages of 1/2 yard or less. Is this just for the practice part or does she mean even when you are doing this for a project to use 1/2 yardage or less. It seems that that could create a significant waste of fabric....

    If anyone knows the answer I would appreciate it.

    Thanks,
    Yael
    I tear to even the cut end. Often times, even after tearing, the grain will be cock-eyed. What I do in that case is to dampen the fabric--------generally put in short wash--------then stretch on the diagonal, first from 2 opposing corners, then the other two. More that once usually.

    Too many manufacturers are sloppy about wrapping fabric on bolts, then the pieces are out of line.
    Bad Spellers of the World
    U N T I E

  6. #6
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yweinst View Post
    So I started teaching myself how to sew last year and I've come a far way but I decided to relearn how to quilt from step one and bought the quilter's academy books.

    I am now on the first set of lessons and am learning how to tear fabric to straighten it.

    I have a quick question Harriet suggest working in short yardages of 1/2 yard or less. Is this just for the practice part or does she mean even when you are doing this for a project to use 1/2 yardage or less. It seems that that could create a significant waste of fabric....

    If anyone knows the answer I would appreciate it.

    Thanks,
    Yael
    As you said, I'd think tearing in 1/2 yards is going to create a lot of waste. However, there was recently a thread about managing very long yardage and a lot of folks cut it down into smaller pieces. I can see someone advising ripping in smaller increments because it would be more manageable, but I still probably wouldn't do it.

    I tend to wait until I need the fabric for a project before prepping it anyway.

  7. #7
    Super Member PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    If I buy a lot of yardage, like 4+, I will tear off what i need, as Scissor Queen suggested. Planning your cuts so they wind up on the exact grain of the fabric is not as important in quilting as in garment or drapery construction. Think about fussy cutting pieces. They are not going to be on the grain. The quilting will stablize the fabric if it's a bit off. Somewhere I read that the 'fabric print trumps all' and this is how I proceed. Drives me crazy if the pattern goes off wonky on quilt. I match up the selvedges, but if the pattern is printed off square, I cut to match the print.
    As far as the half yard cuts, I can see where a beginner would find this much more manageable, but as you gain experience, you should be able to work with longer cuts.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
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  8. #8
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperPrincess View Post
    If I buy a lot of yardage, like 4+, I will tear off what i need, as Scissor Queen suggested. Planning your cuts so they wind up on the exact grain of the fabric is not as important in quilting as in garment or drapery construction. Think about fussy cutting pieces. They are not going to be on the grain. The quilting will stablize the fabric if it's a bit off. Somewhere I read that the 'fabric print trumps all' and this is how I proceed. Drives me crazy if the pattern goes off wonky on quilt. I match up the selvedges, but if the pattern is printed off square, I cut to match the print.
    As far as the half yard cuts, I can see where a beginner would find this much more manageable, but as you gain experience, you should be able to work with longer cuts.
    Thank you PaperPrincess. I don't tear my fabrics, and do try to get them straight, but, your explanation of "fabric print" is really helpful.
    Alyce

  9. #9
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    I might tear the first side but to me it is more important for the fabric to hang right before pressing. I hold the selvage edges together, it the fabric "twists" at the folded edge then I move one edge of the fabric to one side or the other until the folded edge lays nicely - then press. This is as clear as mud I'm sure but it works for me.

  10. #10
    Super Member CorgiNole's Avatar
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    I don't tear in half yards, but if I only need about a 1/2 yard of a much larger cut, I will tear the width of what I need plus a few inches in order to work with a smaller piece of fabric.

    Cheers, K

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