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Thread: Learning about grain - the hard way

  1. #1
    Member heron's Avatar
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    Learning about grain - the hard way

    It's not like I don't know about grain, having made garments for several decades. But, well, this is quilting, and that's different.

    I just made a 3 strip border for my current quilt top. The inner strip (to be sewn to the assembled blocks) measures 2" finished. The strip outside of that measures 0.5" finished. The outermost strip measures 8.5 finished.

    Trying to be frugal, I cut the skinny middle strip on the cross grain. I cut the wide outer strip on the straight grain. I used the IDT on my Pfaff Passport to sew the two together. What would you expect to happen?

    Well, I expected the IDT to just make it all right. Nope.

    For those more experienced that I am, do you think this ugliness truly is the grain issue I just described? If not, I'm open to suggestions.

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  2. #2
    Power Poster sewbizgirl's Avatar
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    Looks like the outer border was too long... maybe because the outer edge of the blue strip stretched, if it was cut on the bias? I'd cut the black border exactly the same length as the white border, and ease it onto the blue piece.
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  3. #3
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    Take the black border off.

    Starch well and press the black border. Sew a line of stay stitching down each side of black border. I use 2.0 stitch length and sew inside of a 1/4 inch seam. It won't show when you attach the borders.

    After the stay stitching, press again. This second pressing flattens the fabric.

    Remeasure the border length needed. Cut to exact measurement. Mark the border at half point. Mark the quilt border at the half point. Pin these two together. Mark and pin at the quarter points on each piece. Don't be stingy with the pin process. I pin about every 4-6 inches along the border. It's just a little work for a better result.

    Best wishes and good luck for flat borders!

  4. #4
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Did you measure your quilt through the middle before each border, then cut each border to that measurement? I do think the skinny border stretched, but I don't think it would have mattered if you had measured through the middle after adding that border, then cut your last border to that measurement and eased it to fit. The problem in the photo is most often caused by just sewing border fabric on without pre-measuring and pre-cutting to fit.

  5. #5
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Did you measure your quilt through the middle before each border, then cut each border to that measurement? I do think the skinny border stretched, but I don't think it would have mattered if you had measured through the middle after adding that border, then cut your last border to that measurement and eased it to fit. The problem in the photo is most often caused by just sewing border fabric on without pre-measuring and pre-cutting to fit.

    Edit: Heavily starching the fabric before cutting would have helped the skinny border stay unstretched while you sewed.

    Oops! Sorry for the double post.

  6. #6
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    I just ripped off some borders that i had cut the length of fabric. everything went well until the last one of course. I will never do that again. i had even starched the strips.

  7. #7
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nativetexan View Post
    I just ripped off some borders that i had cut the length of fabric. everything went well until the last one of course. I will never do that again. i had even starched the strips.
    I'll console you on this ... With all the quilts I have made, the only one that I had borders waving back at me was when I cut LOF. I thought I was being so smart, so it would look really nice without seams. It was a challenge, but eventually I got the border laying flat.

    And have gone back to doing my borders only with WOF, and joining on the bias .... no problems!!
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  8. #8
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    I cut my fabric for borders as LOF if at all possible. I don't like them stretchy. When I sew them on, I cut to length, then I do pin at the half, then each quarter point. Then I pin in the center of the spaces between those two pins. If I see that the bottom is pulling too much, I hold the two fabrics together and make the feed dogs pull evenly. None of my sewing machines have an even feed foot. I have never had the borders stretch and wave when I do it like this. I do the same procedure for WOF cuts, but am not as successful. I like the idea of stay stitching the fabric if the borders are cut WOF. I will try that the next time.
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    My daughter and I both learned our lesson (which I knew but wasn't thinking) about the grain on my AccuQuilt, at different times. I couldn't figure out why some of my squares were the correct size and others were smaller. It took me a while to realize it was the way I laid them on the cutter, with the grain going the wrong way and you roll it thru the cutter it stretches the fabric while cutting and then it goes back once cut. My daughters experience was about the same thing, she's new to sewing and only does block quilts but knows this lesson. Its better than the first time she made a quilt, she cut out a square, then held in the fabric in her hands while cutting the rest of the squares, to say she had a lot of uneven squares was an understatement. But she learned her lesson and it took some work but I finally got it all to work out. We all have to learn and some times be reminded again on things when it comes to sewing and life
    Judy

  10. #10
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    Grain is very important! So is pinning the sections to fit. I like LWG borders whenever possible. Another truth is that you will have that stretch if the quality of the fabric (thread count) is vastly different. I personally am not a heavy starch advocate because, after you wash the quilt, the fabric reverts to original structure plus the shrinkage factor. Measuring in the centers, accurate cutting and careful pinning at measured intervals is essential.

  11. #11
    Super Member GingerK's Avatar
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    Along with all the other advice offered here, Which piece did you have on top when you sewed the outer border on to the narrow second border? I have learned that I have much better luck if I keep the border piece on the top when sewing--in this case, having the wide outer border on the top when attaching to the second border.

    I also measure both edges and thru the center and use an average of those 3 measurements for my border.

    And finally, I know it is more cumbersome, but I would have added each separate border to the top, not sewn them together first.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by sewbizgirl View Post
    Looks like the outer border was too long... maybe because the outer edge of the blue strip stretched, if it was cut on the bias? I'd cut the black border exactly the same length as the white border, and ease it onto the blue piece.

    This good sensible advice. We have all been there....done that.

  13. #13
    Member heron's Avatar
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    Thanks for all your thoughtful responses. Lots of things for me to reconsider. I took the entire border off and am starting over with it. Fingers crossed that I do better this time.

  14. #14
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    I think it's more of a measuring and pinning issue. To me it looks like the grey is stretched a bit where the blue is attached, and then the blue was smoothed and stretched a bit when the dark was added,

    I use cross grain most of the time and lengthwise grain when I have a fabric pattern that requires it - and do not end up with problems like this. I will measure the border and mark it every 10-15" and also measure the quilt in the same increments and then line up the marks as I sew.
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  15. #15
    Power Poster Onebyone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuiltE View Post
    I'll console you on this ... With all the quilts I have made, the only one that I had borders waving back at me was when I cut LOF. I thought I was being so smart, so it would look really nice without seams. It was a challenge, but eventually I got the border laying flat.

    And have gone back to doing my borders only with WOF, and joining on the bias .... no problems!!
    Me too! If I cut LOF for strips or borders I get waves. I got this tip from a national best in show quilter many years ago when I complimented her many pieced borders. She also said she used straight cut double binding on all her quilts unless curved. If you have been to Paducah quilt show you know the winners are usually sitting by their quilts. I wait until there is no one around them (long wait) but worth it when you can talk one on one with specific but short questions and not a crowd to ask them why and what for. LOL
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  16. #16
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I always cut my borders WOF. Measuring the right way through the center of the quilt and borders and pinning is the key.
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  17. #17
    Super Member cashs_mom's Avatar
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    I feel your pain. I finally got the borders on my string quilt. The first try was not successful. I took it off, re starched it and pinned generously. Finally got it on. I starched the others heavily and pinned a lot. End of the day, they look good.
    Patrice S

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