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Thread: Squaring dilema

  1. #1
    Junior Member yorkie luv's Avatar
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    Squaring dilema

    A recent thread, discussed how to square up from the first cut. One method is tearing, another is the two ruler method. Just out of curiosity (because I'm like that) I first tore both ends of a 1 yard piece, I then had to stretch it diagonally to get the salvages to meet at the corners. I then used the 2 ruler method to get rid of the raggedy edge, left by the tearing, and to my chagrin, when using the two ruler method, I found that, the edge was not straight. It was off by 1/4 inch on one end, and 1/2 inch, on the other end. So which method would you trust?

  2. #2
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    It sounds like you needed to continue your diagonal stretching a couple more times til it is completely squared up. I like to use my big square template ruler to check for things being completely square.

  3. #3
    Super Member EasyPeezy's Avatar
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    I don't tear. I starch my fabric heavily, press then cut. I try to match the selvages as
    best as I can to make that first cut.

  4. #4
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    It sounds like you also need to do a bit of pressing with steam after you do the diagonal stretching. I was told by someone in the know that fabric is often wound on the bolts while still damp from the procesing. It is no wonder it is so distorted when we get it.

  5. #5
    Junior Member yorkie luv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mom-6 View Post
    It sounds like you needed to continue your diagonal stretching a couple more times til it is completely squared up. I like to use my big square template ruler to check for things being completely square.
    The fold was even and the corners were square, but it was off between the fold and the salvage. Ironing it might have helped.

  6. #6
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    When ironing my fabric I match the selvage edges and adjusting until the fabric hangs straight at the folded edge. The cut edges may not match. Once the fabric is ironed I use the two ruler method to square the fabric.

  7. #7
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    the fabric must "hang" straight and then you meet the selvages, not match them. the fold is the important thing, then cut the end straight and go from there.

  8. #8
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I do not find it necessary at all to tear fabric for quilting. I do not prewash fabric so there is some starch/sizing in it that keeps it crisp, and I agree with the poster that the *fold* is what is important. Having all your cuts on the correct straight-of-grain is very important in garment sewing because it affects the hang of the garment. It is not that important in quilting as long as you are not stretching the edges of your pieces out of shape. That is where having some starch/sizing in your fabric helps. (If you prewash, then it's a good idea to starch the fabric before cutting.) For quilting, all you need is to be somewhat close to on-grain; it does not have to be perfectly on-grain.

    Be aware that when you tear, the fabric is damaged for up to 2 inches from the tear. This damage may be invisible to the eye, but becomes apparent under a microscope. You really do not want seams within that area of damage. Also, tearing cross-grain is more damaging than tearing on the lengthwise grain. Tearing on the cross-grain often distorts the fabric edges. I will sometimes tear long borders on the lengthwise grain (parallel to the selvedge) because it is easier to be accurate on long pieces; however, even then I trim off the edge that was torn to avoid using damaged fabric.

    Edit: I just want to add that being completely square is not the same as being completely on-grain. Being completely square is a geometric measurement. You can be completely on-grain and not square if the grain is distorted (which is often the case with fabric off the bolt). Likewise you can have completely square cuts without being on-grain at all (as in the case with bias cuts).

  9. #9
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    I do same as Mammie to 7.

  10. #10
    Super Member petthefabric's Avatar
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    When cotton yardage is rolled onto a bolt, the weave is distorted to more significantly off grain. When it is washed, the sizing is removed and cotton when wet, looses memory so it can relax into a more accurate straight of grain. After drying there can be a difference of 1/2-3" that the selvages will not line up. As said above, find the half way between selvedges, fold and hang from the fold to allow the fabric to find it's grain. Don't tear, it does damage fabric. Allign a wide ruller on the fold to make it perpendicular to the fold and make the first cut. Leaving the fabric in place, measure from that first cut.

  11. #11
    Super Member patchsamkim's Avatar
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    Years ago when I started quilting, it was recommended to tear fabric to straighten....but it damages the fabric too much, and you can lose inches of fabric, so I haven't torn in years. I usually line the selvages up, then do my cuts. If a fabric seems too off grain, I do stretch it first before cutting.

  12. #12
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    If a fabric appears to be severely off grain I may do the dreaded "follow one thread all the way across and cut beside it" that we had to do in Home Ec class. Then I can get the grain straight from there.

  13. #13
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    I worry about lining the 6 X 24" ruler on the fold. I find I don't have a problem with "elbows" when I do this. If one of my horizontal lines are lined up evenly with the fold it does not matter if the selvage is or not because the selvage will match after making the first clean cut.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by EasyPeezy View Post
    I don't tear. I starch my fabric heavily, press then cut. I try to match the selvages as
    best as I can to make that first cut.
    This is a fabulous idea! I've just started starching for applique and never thought about doing the blocks!

  15. #15
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    It drives my crazy when fabric off the bolt is so distorted - makes me wash it just so that I can feel that it is straightened out. I don't think it matters that much in quilting, but my years or garment sewing just ingrained (a pun!) that in me.

  16. #16
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by petthefabric View Post
    When cotton yardage is rolled onto a bolt, the weave is distorted to more significantly off grain. When it is washed, the sizing is removed and cotton when wet, looses memory so it can relax into a more accurate straight of grain. After drying there can be a difference of 1/2-3" that the selvages will not line up. As said above, find the half way between selvedges, fold and hang from the fold to allow the fabric to find it's grain. Don't tear, it does damage fabric. Allign a wide ruller on the fold to make it perpendicular to the fold and make the first cut. Leaving the fabric in place, measure from that first cut.
    Dittto that!!!

  17. #17
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    I agree 100% with Prism.

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    I sewed clothing for years and we always "lined up the fabric" by pre-washing [which also removes residue, which will eventually gum-up your machine insides], and then "hung"it from the fold until the selvedges met and the fabric lay smoothly on the table. Starching will put body back into cut pieces, as will STEAMING not just pressing the fabric. Carpentry and quilting are the same rule "measure twice and cut once". Takes time, but it is worth it. [Aligning grain lines was only necessary in loose weave or heavy material...ie. drapes or sheers]

  19. #19
    Power Poster twinkie's Avatar
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    I wish I could help you but I struggle with that also.

  20. #20
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    I put the selvages together and if there is a wobble at the bottom I scoot over the back or front selvage until it all hangs straight. Then I place it on my cutting board and very carefully fold it in half . I then put my 8 1/2 ruler along the fold and my 6 x 12 ruler along the raw edge. When they butt up perfectly I remove the 8 1/2 ruler and make my cut. I try to make as skinny a cut as possible but sometimes the fabric is so out of wack I have to cut of more than I would like.

  21. #21
    Super Member quiltmom04's Avatar
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    The only time I tear fabric is when I need L-O-N-G lengthwise strips for sashing or borders. Other than that, I match up the selveges, and like others have said, the cut, or even torn edges across the width don't always match. But tearing blocks will most certainly distort them.

  22. #22
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    tear off the selvage edge, never try to find grain by the selvege edge or by stretching fabric. tearing should be enough to get you square, though you could still use the two ruler method and use your torn edge as your guide.

  23. #23
    Senior Member rural01's Avatar
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    Very good advice Prism. Thanks!

  24. #24
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    I would never tear cross grain or across the width of the fabric. It's not surprising that fabric torn that way is uneven. I tear only lengthwise to make borders, and allow enough in the torn width to trim in case the edges are too ragged. Even so, sometimes fabric will behave in weird ways. All depends on quality of the weaving, I believe, which really translates into the quality of the fabric.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nammie to 7 View Post
    When ironing my fabric I match the selvage edges and adjusting until the fabric hangs straight at the folded edge. The cut edges may not match. Once the fabric is ironed I use the two ruler method to square the fabric.
    This was how I was taught to do it.

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