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Thread: Tearing vs. cutting

  1. #1
    Junior Member QuiltedCritterLady's Avatar
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    Oct 2011
    Peoria, Arizona

    Tearing vs. cutting

    I read in one of my quilting books that tearing fabric was better than cutting because you always have pieces that are perfectly straight with the grain. So, I have tried it for a couple of large pieces for backing and they seemed to come out a bit wonky. I have another back to do and now I don't know if I should cut or tear. This is where it is difficult to teach yourself. Any help is appreciated!
    Never underestimate the power of a woman with a sewing machine!

  2. #2
    Super Member JUNEC's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    Clearwater, FL
    I would cut it - I have the same problem with mastering tearing

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2011
    No. California. The foothills of the Sierras.
    I would cut it, too. JMHO
    Face the sun and keep your shadow at your back.
    And it never hurts to keep an angel on your shoulder.

  4. #4
    Super Member EasyPeezy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    I think it depends on the fabric. If it's good quality you can tear but you still have to trim a little.
    I won't tear thin muslin because it will distort too much. But I've done it both ways.
    Depends on my mood. LOL Sometimes I just ask my helper (DH) to hold the fabric on one
    end and I use my scissors. Much faster.

  5. #5
    Moderator Up North's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    North East Lower peninsula of Michigan
    If I need a long piece I tear and press it cut of a scant 1/4 and it is straight on grain unless the fabric is printed wonky I tear just a tad larger than needed sometimes.

  6. #6
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    Knot Merrill, Southern Indiana
    You will find just as many folks in the tear camp as you will in the don't tear camp - it's right up there with the pre-washing question. There is no RIGHT way. The way YOU choose to do it is RIGHT for YOUR reasons.

    These are my reasons

    I'm not a fan of tearing. There are so few times I've had to cut something *exactly* on grain that it's just not worth it to me. I'm also a heavy starcher - so having to have something *exactly* on grain hasn't been an issue. Plus, when torn the edge is wavy so I have to cut the wave off and there is not guarentee that I've cut it *exactly* on grain so again ... why bother??

    I'm talking *grain* not print - which is OFTEN off grain.

    When I shopped at Eleanor Burns in Paducah the gal's in there tear the fabric, they don't cut. I'm a dedicated pre-washer and I can say that my torn fabric frayed a LOT more than my cut fabric.

    The last reason ... I really hate that sound
    May your stitches always be straight, your seams always lie flat, and your grain never be biased against you.


  7. #7
    Super Member CorgiNole's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    Chapel Hill
    I've done it both ways. With tearing, you definitely want to be certain that you have a few inches more than you think you need.

    And when I tried tearing flannel it was an unmitigated disaster.

    Tearing can certainly get the fabric closer to grain than it sometimes is when it is cut from the bolt - so is sometimes useful in figuring out where the wonky is. I would never use it for my narrow strips, just for the big pieces.

    Mostly, if I've got a large piece of fabric (I like shopping the end of bolt sale for stash building), I'll tear off what I need rather than wrestle with the whole 2-3 yard piece on my pressing table.

    Cheers, K

  8. #8
    Super Member nhweaver's Avatar
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    Aug 2010
    Delmarva Peninsula
    Blog Entries
    I tear larger cuts of fabric, especially for the backing so that I get a straight grain, I do it after it has been prewashed and hung dry. I cut all the small pieces, so I guess I do both.
    If life gives you lemons, make a margarita.

  9. #9
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    Apr 2010
    I am a fan of tearing , and on some fabrics i still use the old method of pulling a thread.

  10. #10
    Super Member QuiltnLady1's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Depends on the size of fabric I am dealing with -- I tear the larger pieces (like for a back), but cut the smaller pieces. There is no right way, so do what you are most comfortable with.

    When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

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