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Thread: Straight of grain

  1. #1
    Super Member laalaaquilter's Avatar
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    Why should I care if the fabric is straight of grain? I've been reading the 'torn vs cut' thread for the pros and cons of that and it all seems to come back to getting the fabric straight on the grain but no one has explained why it needs to be straight when I'm going to cut it a million ways and sew it five ways from Sunday.

  2. #2
    Power Poster Sadiemae's Avatar
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    I have never worried about it, but I am interested to hear everyone's opinion.

  3. #3
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    I was told that it didn't matter as long as I had my seams stright and was careful when I was pressing the fabric so I didn't streatch it out of shape. Also, I was told to alternate the directions I sewed when sewing strips so they would not bow. I sure someone with more quilting experience can give you better advise.

  4. #4
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    if it is not straight (on-grain) it is bias...and very stretchy...
    your edges will lie flat if your pieces are cut straight. if you cut off grain your pieces easily stretch out of shape. also if you fabric is not folded on the straight grain and you cut a strip you get those little V's in your strip at the fold....patterns (including clothing and other sewing) often have a line/arrow showing which direction the pattern piece should be placed on the fabric ensuring it is situated correctly (on-grain) things do not (hang/drape) correctly if cut incorrectly
    if you want your borders straight, if you want your quilt to be square, if you want it to drape evenly...it is important to cut correctly--on grain

  5. #5
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    who ever told you that...has not had much experience sewing. i was taught the importance of paying attention to grain when i was 8 in 4-H...that has not changed, and it does not matter if it's quilts or clothing...grain line is important if you want your finished project to hang/drape straight/square.

    Quote Originally Posted by BETTY62
    I was told that it didn't matter as long as I had my seams stright and was careful when I was pressing the fabric so I didn't streatch it out of shape. Also, I was told to alternate the directions I sewed when sewing strips so they would not bow. I sure someone with more quilting experience can give you better advise.

  6. #6
    Senior Member CompulsiveQuilter's Avatar
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    ??? So to make sure it's straight on grain ... before cutting strips you would tear off a bit and line up the two sides and re-fold the yardage? Is that right?

  7. #7
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by laalaaquilter
    Why should I care if the fabric is straight of grain? I've been reading the 'torn vs cut' thread for the pros and cons of that and it all seems to come back to getting the fabric straight on the grain but no one has explained why it needs to be straight when I'm going to cut it a million ways and sew it five ways from Sunday.
    It's less of an issue when you are cutting the fabric into small pieces.

    It is a really big issue if it's backing fabric. Your quilt top will be rectangular... and you don't want to pair that with a piece of backing fabric that is a parallelogram or diamond-shaped.

  8. #8
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CompulsiveQuilter
    ??? So to make sure it's straight on grain ... before cutting strips you would tear off a bit and line up the two sides and re-fold the yardage? Is that right?
    I don't like tearing fabric. It leaves microscopic damage up to 2 inches from the edge of the tear. This is especially true when tearing cross-grain (across the width of the fabric), as would be done in a fabric shop. Tearing along the straight-grain does less damage to the fabric.

    For quilting purposes, it is not critical to always be exactly on-grain to the thread. It's more important to be close to on-grain for piecing. For example, you want the edges of your quilt top to be on-grain so they don't stretch out of shape from handling during sandwiching, quilting and binding. Bias edges must be handled very carefully to avoid distortions. For cutting out strips and pieces, it's enough to be close to on-grain; it doesn't have to be perfect!

    With garments, grain is extremely important in order for fabrics to drape properly over the body. Quilt tops that are made out of many small pieces of fabric are going to have grain lines going every which way. Keeping strips and pieces cut close to grainlines helps ensure piecing accuracy so all pieces fit together in the end.

    Edit: I would add that most quilters do not tear fabric to determine straight-of-grain. It's enough to "eyeball" it by lining up selvedges. Where we need to be very precise is with the cutting angles. For example, once a fabric is folded, a cut needs to be exactly 90 degrees from the fold (not the selvedges!) in order to have a straight cut when the fabric is unfolded. The cause of the dreaded "V" cut in strips has nothing to do with grainline, but everything to do with whether the ruler was positioned exactly 90 degrees from the fold line.

  9. #9
    Super Member patchsamkim's Avatar
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    For patchwork, as long as you are close to grain, piecing will usually go well enough. For setting pieces, sashing and borders, grain is much more important. For best results, borders should be cut lengthwise for quilts. Fabric that is cut too far off of grain becomes much more stretchy, and can result in quilts that don't lay flat.

  10. #10
    Super Member IrelandDragonQuilting's Avatar
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    Shouldn't of opened this one, my head is spinning! hehehe

  11. #11
    Senior Member ThreadHead's Avatar
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    Torn is usually straighter.
    Take a yard of material and fold it- don't worry about the ends yet--- make sure there are no wrinkles or it is not skewed in the Middle -- the ends will probably not be even and this is where I even them up.
    Syl

  12. #12
    Super Member Sweeterthanwine's Avatar
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    I have never had good luck with tearing fabric. I prefer mine cut.

  13. #13
    Senior Member susanwilley's Avatar
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    I've made 3 quilts and have never checked for grain. I'm working on my third and haven't had a problem yet. Guess I just got lucky, hope this ones goes as well as the others.

  14. #14
    Super Member pojo's Avatar
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    I don't tear mine when I'm making a scrap quilt out of pieces of left over fabric.
    Maybe for a back of a quilt.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Kat Sews's Avatar
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    Absolute straight of grain is not a big deal on most quilts. Also bias is much more than a little off grain, true bias is cut at a 45 degree angle to he selvege edge. This would be very stretchy and difficult to work with (think HST's). To straighten the grain there are at least two good options. Tear across the width of the fabric, refold in the fold line and hold it up. If one of the torn edged appear longer than the other begin pulling diagonally across the long corner and work your way along the entire length of fabric a little at a time pulling every few inches as you go. After all that pulling fold again on the origianl fold line and hold it up again. If they are still not even repeat the process of pulling again until the fabric hangs even. For those who are worried about possible microscopic damage you can pull out one thread across the fabric and cut on the line left where the thread was removed. from that point you do the same stretching process. I can't begin to count how many quilts I have made and some I knew the grain was off a little. Haven't had a problem with the way they draped that I can remember.
    The only time I straighten the grain on fabric is when I am making nice clothing.

  16. #16
    Super Member sharoney's Avatar
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    I was taught in Home Ec- way more years ago than I care to admit- to always cut on the straight of the grain. We used the "pulled thread" method to make ours straight. I don't do that now, nor do I tear, ( I don't like tearing fabric) but I can straighten it up, line it up, and eyeball it pretty well.

  17. #17
    Vat
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    Sharoney, I hope you didn't give that advise to any of your students.
    Quote Originally Posted by sharoney
    I was taught in Home Ec- way more years ago than I care to admit- to always cut on the straight of the grain. We used the "pulled thread" method to make ours straight. I don't do that now, nor do I tear, ( I don't like tearing fabric) but I can straighten it up, line it up, and eyeball it pretty well.

  18. #18
    Super Member quiltmaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckcowl
    if it is not straight (on-grain) it is bias...and very stretchy...
    your edges will lie flat if your pieces are cut straight. if you cut off grain your pieces easily stretch out of shape. also if you fabric is not folded on the straight grain and you cut a strip you get those little V's in your strip at the fold....patterns (including clothing and other sewing) often have a line/arrow showing which direction the pattern piece should be placed on the fabric ensuring it is situated correctly (on-grain) things do not (hang/drape) correctly if cut incorrectly
    if you want your borders straight, if you want your quilt to be square, if you want it to drape evenly...it is important to cut correctly--on grain

    This is exactly what I was taught many, many years ago. You stated it perfectly!

  19. #19
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    I remember in Home Ec many years ago we used to use two people on opposite corners of the fabric to stretch it diagonally, then again on the other corners. Teacher made us do this in the classroom before we were allowed to cut. This was for garment making. It's very important to know where the straight of grain is when sewing garments - the longer it is (a long skirt) the more important it becomes. Note: you may find garments for sale as 'seconds' that were not cut on the straight. They look normal but don't hang right. Ever had a jacket that seemed to be "pulling" on one shoulder? Straight was off.

    I've never done this to fabric I am quilting with.

    When cutting for quilts, the only time I worry about absolute straight is when I'm using directionals - and then it may not be the straight of grain I pay attention to if the directional isn't printed exactly to the straight of grain - and that happens quite a bit actually.

  20. #20
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I like to sew and when everything is going well, I LOVE it. This is why I put a lot of time into prep. I starch. I make sure that the fabric is squared on the grain. I cut as acurately as possible. I make sure that I'm using the infamous scant quarter inch seam. I press as I go. I LOVE when the blocks just fall together!! So as long as the print will allow it, I do straighten the fabric.

  21. #21
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    This is one time that "close enough is good enough". Square your ruler on the center fold of full width fabric. You can probably look down the length of the ruler and see that you are pretty close to lined up with the fabric threads. If so, you are on straight of grain. Same thing applies working with the length of the fabric, except there is no center fold.

    Straight of grain will be easier to cut, sew, and iron as it won't stretch totally out of shape like bias can.

    Sometimes you will want to use stripes, plaids, or checks. Then don't worry about straight of grain, just line up your ruler with the print.

    Most of us are saying the same thing, but different people understand differently. I hope one of these makes sense to you.

  22. #22
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    Fabric has 3 grains: straight, cross and bias. Straight grain is parallel to the selvage edges and has very little or no stretch. Cross grain runs from selvage to selvage and has some stretch. Bias is 45 degrees to either selvage and has lots of stretch. If you sew squares together and match straight grain to straigt grain as well as cross grain to cross grain it's much easier to keep the seam lines straight and avoid puckers in the seams. If you sew bias to straight grain you can almost guarantee that the bias will be too long and the pieces won't fit when you sew them together.

  23. #23
    Super Member sharoney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vat
    Sharoney, I hope you didn't give that advise to any of your students.
    Quote Originally Posted by sharoney
    I was taught in Home Ec- way more years ago than I care to admit- to always cut on the straight of the grain. We used the "pulled thread" method to make ours straight. I don't do that now, nor do I tear, ( I don't like tearing fabric) but I can straighten it up, line it up, and eyeball it pretty well.
    And what advice is that? pulled thread or eyeball? I don't have students, BTW, I was talking about when I was a student. Lol

  24. #24
    Super Member laalaaquilter's Avatar
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    Thank you all! I appreciate hearing from both camps and learning the reasoning behind this. I used sog when I learned to sew clothing from my sister and knew about following the arrow on the pattern but just hadn't thought out how it might impact seam sewing for quilts or quilt drape, etc.

    I knew I would get a wealth of advice and you all have not disappointed!

  25. #25
    Super Member jitkaau's Avatar
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    If you cut everything squarely and don't stretch the bias pieces, your quilt goes together in half the time.Points and seams meet accurately, no seam ripping, no re - sewing and quilts hang or sit squarely and do not look 'wonky'. The quilting is easier as well as there is no bunching up. Ask any long arm quilter if they prefer to quilt a well pieced quilt or one thrown together and the answer is obvious.Even when you are making crazy quilts you still square the blocks up. Paper piecing is the easiest way to keep bias and straight grain pieces working together and one instance where grain isn't so important.

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