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Thread: Do you tear your fabric to put in on grain?

  1. #1
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    I was reading in a quilting book that to prep your fabric, prewashed or not, you tear it to put it on grain, line up selvedges and starch it to get it back to shape, as when it is rolled onto the bolt it becomes a bit off.

    Do you do this? If not, how do you prepare your fabric?

  2. #2
    Senior Member RUSewing's Avatar
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    Yes, but I have to buy extra as so many fabrics are way off grain!

  3. #3
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    I'm a RIPPER! Need a small piece? RIIIIIPPPPPP. It's easier to keep the larger pieces of my stash in order, if they are rectangle, rather than have some 'lil corner carved out.

  4. #4
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    I guess I don't understand how it doesn't make it more off grain. I mean, ripping something should distort the rest of the fabric, so doesn't ripping make it worse?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butterfli19
    I guess I don't understand how it doesn't make it more off grain. I mean, ripping something should distort the rest of the fabric, so doesn't ripping make it worse?
    Good question. I've heard this also, and also don't understand how it works.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butterfli19
    I guess I don't understand how it doesn't make it more off grain. I mean, ripping something should distort the rest of the fabric, so doesn't ripping make it worse?
    If I rip, I make a small cut first and then let the grain take the rest as it's ripped. But mostly I don't rip. Mostly I don't straighten my grain. I never saw the need to. Can you all tell me why you straighten your grain? Maybe I should start.

  7. #7
    Super Member mpspeedy's Avatar
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    I prewash and rip anything that needs to be straight. Even with my longest ruler I can't cut say border pieces straight. If I tear them I know they are on grain. Years ago I worked for a Bernina dealer who made her bread and butter doing custom dressmaking and alterations. I learned a lot from her about fabric. Straight of grain is very important in garment construction. According to her fabric is often loaded on the bolt damp which distorts it even more. In her shop we made everything from wedding dresses to shower curtains. If it had to hang straight we either tore it or pulled a thread to get the exact straight of grain. It really does make a difference in the finished product.

  8. #8
    Super Member RenaB's Avatar
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    I am totally lost ::insert cricket sound:: :oops:

  9. #9
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    I don't rip my fabric. I don't like how it distorts and separates the weave. If you are working with a plaid or check that had to be perfect I might. I sometimes will rip a huge yardage in half to make it more managable (too big a piece to rotary cut on mat).

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Butterfli19
    I was reading in a quilting book that to prep your fabric, prewashed or not, you tear it to put it on grain, line up selvedges and starch it to get it back to shape, as when it is rolled onto the bolt it becomes a bit off.

    Do you do this? If not, how do you prepare your fabric?
    I iron the fabric and then line up the salvage edges-- if they are way off, I'll tear it to get it straight or just cut it after I get the "bubble" out of the fabric.

  11. #11
    Senior Member mshollysd's Avatar
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    The way I learned in Homeec is to pull a thread across the grain, and cut along this thread. This gives you a true edge. Then when you place the fabric down smooth (selvedges together) if that edge is not lined up (the selveges) on the end, you need to stretch the fabric on the bias all the way down until it is straight. This way there is no distortion. Now since I have been making quilts and my pieces are so small, not a problem, however if you are making borders, can be a problem if the weave is off.

  12. #12
    Senior Member SparkMonkey's Avatar
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    I do on extra-wide fabrics. I've found that on standard 42"/44" fabric, I can pretty well manage to straighten the grain by lining up selvedges and shifting side-to-side to find a good fold. With extra-wide fabric, it's really just easier to rip it. I also prefer to rip if I need long strips. And sometimes I'll rip when I've having an aggravating day. ;)

  13. #13
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    The reason why this works is becuase when you rip the fabric it will rip along a thread line. That will give you the straight line you are looking for, it won't necessarily and often doesn't follow the pattern line printed on the fabric. When you cut the fabric you cut through any threads weather they follow the same line or not. It's all about the weave of the fabric.

    Hope that made sense and didn't confuse you more!

  14. #14
    Senior Member yonnikka's Avatar
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    Rarely do I rip the whole piece, but I do Pull a Thread, find the true line of the Warp, and then cut, with either scissors or my Rotary Blade. When I have a really big piece, like 8 yards of muslin, and want two yards, then I would rip just for quickness.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Kristin in ME's Avatar
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    Trying to understand this- so, for instance, when I make the backing for my quilt, instead of cutting, cutting, cutting with my rotary cutter, I could just rip the whole thing down the length of it?? I understand that it would rip along the thread line, I'd just be so worried that I'd be distorting the fabric by stretching it...

    I never even heard of ripping fabric- I'm already learning so much on this board!

  16. #16
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    I have heard of ripping from selvedge to selvedge to straighten the grain line. But it sounds like some of you rip the fabric lengthwise also. Am I reading correctly? This would make 'cutting' the borders easier. Do you tear just slightly bigger than what you need, to allow for the 'fringe' that results from the tear?

    Sorry to hijack this post!

  17. #17
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    years ago, no stores cut fabric. the edge was clipped and then the fabric ripped - straight of grain every time. i hate the way some shops cut the fabric on their grid, and don't give you an extra 1/4 inch either, btw. then, when you get home and wash that fabric, it will straighten up and you are left with angular pieces on each end. that's why i always buy extra fabric and consider it part of the cost of the item i am making.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mshollysd
    The way I learned in Homeec is to pull a thread across the grain, and cut along this thread. This gives you a true edge. Then when you place the fabric down smooth (selvedges together) if that edge is not lined up (the selveges) on the end, you need to stretch the fabric on the bias all the way down until it is straight. This way there is no distortion. Now since I have been making quilts and my pieces are so small, not a problem, however if you are making borders, can be a problem if the weave is off.
    Yes! I remember this! Sounds much better to pull one thread than rip an entire side! I'll try this instead.

  19. #19
    Super Member Annaquilts's Avatar
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    I do for large pieces only. Then I fold it double on the grain before cutting.

  20. #20
    Super Member Glassquilt's Avatar
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    I had a FQ that 'bowed' after washing. When I laid it down on the grid of my cutting board one corner was about 4" higher than the one 18" away.

    As said above the fabric, is sometimes distorted when put on the bolt. It can be full of sizing and seems absolutely perfect while sewing with it. The trouble shows up after it's been washed and relaxes back to it's originally woven state.

    Some unexplained ripples are because of this. If you're lucky you can quilt it out. If not it might just look a bit homemade no matter what you try to do.

    If you've made a garment, the side seams may hang crooked and there is nothing you can do to correct it other than cut it down alot for a child or add to your quilt stash.

  21. #21
    Super Member Maggiesmom's Avatar
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    My mother was a wonderful seamstress, she always taught me to tear fabric. I have often been distressed when I asked for a half yard of fabric got it home and really had barely a quarter yard of usable fabric because the grain was so off.

  22. #22
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    I rip for large pieces but not as a general rule. I've tried the whole 'pull a thread' thing and quilting cotton is just too tightly woven for that to work for me. I usually just line up the selveges and wiggle until it's straight and then cut whatever the necessary chunk off the end to get it straight. Not always really true but usually close enough for me.

  23. #23
    Senior Member SparkMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kristin in ME
    Trying to understand this- so, for instance, when I make the backing for my quilt, instead of cutting, cutting, cutting with my rotary cutter, I could just rip the whole thing down the length of it?? I understand that it would rip along the thread line, I'd just be so worried that I'd be distorting the fabric by stretching it...

    I never even heard of ripping fabric- I'm already learning so much on this board!
    You sure could! I've ripped both across the selvedge grain and along it, and both ways are perfectly safe and don't distort the fabric. There's a bit of stretching and fraying right next to the ripped area for about a half-inch, but the rest of the fabric is unharmed. You do want to avoid ripping narrow strips (like less than 2" ), because they could just tear off. Anything else is fine, though. I'll rip a bit wider than the size I need for long strips, then just trim off the frayed part.

    Fabric rips much easier than you'd think. Once you get it started (a little snip with the scissors is enough), it rips almost as easily as paper. You may still need to straighten the grain, but it has nothing to do with being distorted from ripping; it was distorted to begin with, which is *why* you rip--so you can *find* the grain and straighten it. Once you get your grainline, just tug the fabric along the bias to line it up properly (you might need some practice to get the hang of it). Once the fabric is squared up, it'll be much easier to work with and you'll have an easier time getting accurate cuts.

  24. #24
    Power Poster debcavan's Avatar
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    There are so many finishes on our fabrics that sometimes they tear in a semi circle. I put my ruler on my fabric, cut and call it good. I do like to have my fabric given extra body with starch or sizing though

  25. #25
    Super Member carslo's Avatar
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    For big pieces on the backing I rip, both directions it is so much easier than trying to cut the fabric :) I thought everyone did it that way.

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