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cutting fabric

Old 01-04-2014, 09:09 AM
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Default 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?
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Old 01-04-2014, 09:32 AM
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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.
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Old 01-04-2014, 09:39 AM
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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.
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Old 01-04-2014, 09:54 AM
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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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Old 01-04-2014, 09:54 AM
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Thanks you so much 11
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:16 AM
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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.
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:30 AM
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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.
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Old 01-04-2014, 11:48 AM
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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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Old 01-04-2014, 12:11 PM
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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.
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Old 01-04-2014, 01:26 PM
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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.
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