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Thread: cutting fabric

  1. #1
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    cutting fabric

    I have a dumb question, How do you cut your fabric? What I mean is you have say 3yards of fabric and you need to cut it into 6" sqs. Do you cut the fabric into shorter yardage or what? I have a really hard time trying to arrange my fabric to cut it. HELP!!!Told you it was dumb. And do y'all wash you flannel before you make a rag quilt?

  2. #2
    Super Member gale's Avatar
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    I would probably accordion fold the bulk of it to keep it out of the way and cut 6" strips from the end. Then unfold as I got to the folded part.

    I always wash flannel TWICE. I have not made a rag quilt yet though.

  3. #3
    Super Member pamesue's Avatar
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    I would cut the 3 yards into 6" strip's, fold fabric so that you are cutting 3 even layers. then subcut your 6" strips into 6" squares. If I did the math correct you would end up with approximately 126 6" squares.
    Pam H.

    "Those that mind, don't matter and those that matter don't mind" ~ Dr. Seuss

  4. #4
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    Not a dumb question, in fact I've been wondering about the best way to cut fabric like this.
    I always wash the flannel cuz some shrinks a lot others don't.

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    Thanks you so much 11

  6. #6
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I always wash flannel, no matter what I'm making with it. It rags just fine after washing. Flannels shrink unevenly and are notorious bleeders. The other problem is that flannel (even the "good" stuff) sometimes pills, and if it does I use it inside a quilt, not on the outside.

    Edit: Oh yes, I forgot your first question. When I'm cutting something off a large piece of fabric, I usually first cut a little more than I really need off the big piece. (I know, wasteful perhaps, but if it means avoiding a poor cut then it's a good thing to do.) For instance, if I have 3 yards and I need two 6" strips, I will cut off around 12.5", making sure that there is still enough to straighten out the end, which may not be straight. Then I will even off the end, make my first 6" cut, and make my second 6" cut. There will be a little bit left over, but not much, and I won't be fighting with the weight and bulk of the remainder of the fabric.
    Last edited by dunster; 01-04-2014 at 10:20 AM.

  7. #7
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    I also do the accordion fold of the main bulk of fabric and just have enough unfolded to cover my cutting board with a bit over. Then if I'm cutting quite a bit I will continue to unfold as needed.

    This eliminates undue waste, keeps it neat, and is easily refolded when done.

  8. #8
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    For a job like this, I would typically cut off a 1-yard piece first (assuming I overbought by a half yard or so on the fabric requirements). Working with 1-yard pieces is much easier for me with the cutting space that I have.

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    I am a fan of tearing fabric. As quilters who are not necessarily garment sewers we often forget about straight of grain. It makes a real difference in having your fabric lay straight and true. I make a lot of charity pillowcase dresses from gently used sheets. It really annoys me that they are often not made on the straight of grain. I can use the hems already in the sheets if I cut or tear the fabric just right. Often if I tear it I discover that the decorative hem at the top of the sheet was not applied on the straight of grain as the part I tore almost never runs parallel. I worked for about a year in a shop that did custom dressmaking and alterations. I learned a lot there. Creating things taking into account the straight of grain makes a huge difference in the quality of the finished product.

  10. #10
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I agree with tearing fabric for certain applications. Tearing along the lengthwise grain works well for getting straight borders, for example. However, tearing along the crosswise grain (from selvedge to selvedge) is somewhat problematic for piecing. Tearing always damages fabric fibers along the torn edge. It is harder to tear fabric along the crosswise grain, and crosswise tearing results in damage to the fibers up to 2" from the torn edge. Most of this damage cannot be seen by naked eye, but shows up under a microscope. This type of damage weakens the fabric, but will not show up in a quilt until many years down the line.

    It was many years ago that I read an article on this topic from a quilter who took the time to examine the torn edges of her fabric under a microscope. She was a quilter who expected her quilts to be handed down in the family, and she was so disturbed by what she saw under the microscope that she went through her entire fabric stashing cutting 2" off every torn edge.

    Not everyone expects their quilts to become family heirlooms, but I think it's a good idea for quilters to be aware of the difference between cut and torn fabric in terms of longevity.

    Edit: I should add that cutting pieces for quilts exactly on the grain is not as important as it might seem, especially if the fabric is unwashed (meaning manufacturer's sizing is still in it) or starched. The most important reason to stay on-grain as much as possible is so that piecing remains accurate. Pieces cut on the bias stretch more easily; however, the amount of stretching depends on how far away from straight-of-grain the cut is. Fabric cut just a little off-grain will not stretch nearly as much as pieces cut on the true bias (45 degrees from straight-of-grain). For pieced quilts -- especially when the pieces are small -- having edges slightly off-grain is not a major problem, especially if the fabric has sizing or starch for stabilization.
    Last edited by Prism99; 01-04-2014 at 01:30 PM.

  11. #11
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    Wow, Prism. That's a great explanation! Thank you for taking the time to share what you know!

  12. #12
    Power Poster ManiacQuilter2's Avatar
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    I made one rag quilt and I didn't prewash it. I normally fold the fabric in half and cut the strips then sub cut the squares. Good Luck. Rag quilts are cozy and snuggle especially in the winter.
    A Good Friend, like an old quilt, is both a Treasure and a Comfort

  13. #13
    Super Member luvTooQuilt's Avatar
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    i cut strips off the bolt... Anything over a 2 yards i roll onto bolts.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mom-6 View Post
    I also do the accordion fold of the main bulk of fabric and just have enough unfolded to cover my cutting board with a bit over. Then if I'm cutting quite a bit I will continue to unfold as needed.

    This eliminates undue waste, keeps it neat, and is easily refolded when done.
    This is what I do as well. I don't have a tremendous area to work with so I'm constantly folding; refolding; re-ironing. I will also sometimes chop off a slightly larger chunk and cut down if I'm working on blocks and then need the balance for borders/sashing/something else. Put the bulk away and then go back to it later.

  15. #15
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    I cut my fabric into a smaller amount/size determined by the size of the blocks I need.
    Fabric is like money, no matter how much you have it's never enough.

  16. #16
    Super Member sewcrafty's Avatar
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    Well are you going to use any of this fabric for a border? I sort of plan out my fabric for cutting like I was taught almost 20 yrs ago. If you have a 36" mat fold your fabric into 3rds length wise and then I use a 48' T-square that I stole from my dh. Less chance of wavy borders that way.

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    I definitely wash flannel. I just never know how much shrinkage there will be, unless I'm using it as a receiving blanket. Then I'll crochet an edging and wash after. No real reasoning behind that other than I'm usually in a hurry to get the edging finished so am in a hurry to get it started! As for the cutting fabric, I never cut it until I'm ready to use it. If I have purchased for a specific project I'll cut the pieces to size at the time. What I have found is I seem to have to re-square up a piece after every 3-4 strips and hate to waste any.

  18. #18
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    I follow dunstar's method (post #6) when I am dealing with a large piece of fabric. I have arthritis in both shoulders and this is just so much easier for me.

  19. #19
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    I agree with gale - I would fold the fabric twice lengthwise, then accordion fold the fabric so it could be cut into 6" strips, then sub cut into 6" squares.

  20. #20
    Super Member jeanharville's Avatar
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    Thanks for asking this question, I've had trouble handling large cuts of fabric. And the posts about the straight of grain were very informative.
    jean

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    Hi gmabrown First of all the only dumb question is the one not asked, so I have been told. I agree with someof the others start at one end to cut your 6 inch by what ever. ABout the rag quilt the patterns I have used say "do not wash fabric first" part of the process of a rag quilt is the shringage of the fabric and the clipping for the frindge. I do wash my fabric for other projects but not for RAG quilts etc Happy quilting yippie

  22. #22
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    No question is ever dumb! You probably helped a lot of people today.

  23. #23
    Super Member wildyard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mom-6 View Post
    I also do the accordion fold of the main bulk of fabric and just have enough unfolded to cover my cutting board with a bit over. Then if I'm cutting quite a bit I will continue to unfold as needed.

    This eliminates undue waste, keeps it neat, and is easily refolded when done.
    This is also my way! I use the June Taylor ShapeCut ruler for cutting the strips.
    Linda Wedge White

    I believe UFOs are like scraps, ferns and dust bunnies. Once you get two, they send spores out into the air and more just happen anywhere the spores meet.

  24. #24
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    Everyone, thank you for your comments. Really helpful. Much I did not know.

    I am basically a garment sewer in transition and the one thing I cannot seem to quit doing is pulling a thread and asking DH to help me straighten. (Convincing him the value and the skills of doing THAT is another story.) (Somewhere are a couple of home ec teachers laughing.) I don't do it on the tiny bits because it is easy to see the straight on those. Now I know my compulsion to pull threads may not be the most generally effective.

    It is so wonderful to be able to read and talk to people who sew.

    Pat

  25. #25
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I fold my fabric selvage to selvage and cut 6" squares width of fabric (WOF). Even up the first cut first and may have to even up cut edge before each cut.
    I always prewash all fabric.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

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