Go Back  Quiltingboard Forums > Main
Tearing fabric to obtain straight of grain? >

Tearing fabric to obtain straight of grain?

Tearing fabric to obtain straight of grain?

Old 06-09-2018, 05:00 PM
Super Member
Thread Starter
GEMRM's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: South West Ontario
Posts: 2,234
Default Tearing fabric to obtain straight of grain?

I am not a fan of tearing fabric for straight of grain when quilting, but I do have a question on how it should be done properly.
I was recently at a quilt shop I had patronized many times previously where they cut the fabric with a rotary cutter. This most recent visit, the staff member measured the fabric, placed her finger at the correct mark, snipped the fabric (on the fold) and proceeded to tear it to the selvedge edges, gripping both layers of fabric at the same time.
She was so quick, and I was so surprised, as previously this store cut the fabric. I do not like to buy fabric where it is torn. (Personal preference of mine)
Subsequent to this, when I went to use the fabric, I had nothing but trouble - ripples, shifting when trying to cut/pin etc and it didn't seem to lay flat as easily as usual.
When you plan to rip fabric, I was under the impression that one snipped the selvedge, tore to the opposite side and then cut that selvedge.
What is the correct way to do it? My most recent experience seemed to be really detrimental to the fabric.
GEMRM is offline  
Old 06-09-2018, 05:11 PM
Super Member
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 1,734

Haven't seen fabric torn in recent years. Once it was common for woven fabrics, I always saw it snipped at the selvedge, then torn. Some places, JC Penney comes to mind, had a machine they would run the fabric thru to measure, push a lever to make a cut, then tear the fabric.
That was also in the day when you were not allowed to get your own patterns out of the drawer. You had to ask a clerk for them. Always a problem for me-I learned to sew at a young age and loved to look thru pattern books. Clerks didn't want to help me cause I was "too young" to sew. Got in trouble more than once cause I helped myself!
bakermom is offline  
Old 06-09-2018, 05:30 PM
Super Member
Pat G's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Arizona
Posts: 1,930
Default Ripping fabric

I did this once yrs ago so I canít remember how much yardage. Always heard it was the straight way. I ruined the whole darn piece because it ripped at such an angle. Couldnít use it for its intended project. Never did that again.
Pat G is offline  
Old 06-09-2018, 05:35 PM
Super Member
JulieR's Avatar
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Emmitsburg, MD
Posts: 1,599

I tear my own and my favorite shop does, too; they rip from the selvedge and I usually rip from the fold. Both ways work.

If you don't like your fabric torn just mention it when you take it to the table. Even if they weren't going to tear it anyway it's good to be clear upfront.
JulieR is offline  
Old 06-09-2018, 07:45 PM
Power Poster
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Western Wisconsin
Posts: 12,930

Ripping fabric on the crossgrain (selvedge to selvedge) does considerably more damage to the ripped edges than ripping fabric on the lengthwise grain (parallel to the selvedge). This is why crosswise rips result in much more rippling of the edges than lengthwise rips. One can accurately assess the depth of the damage from the rip only under a microscope, as most of the damage is not visible to the naked eye. Under a microscope, the damage to the fibers becomes more visible.

Exactly how much damage is done to a fabric ripped crosswise probably has more to do with the individual fabric's weave, tightness of weave, thread count, etc. than with whether the fabric was ripped in a single layer or a double layer. However, ripping a double layer is probably more rough on the fabric than ripping a single layer.

In my opinion, there is no correct way to rip fabric on the crosswise grain if the fabric is to be used for quilting. This is because crosswise ripping results in an unnecessary loss of fabric integrity. Because we want our quilts to last a long time, integrity of the fabric fibers is important. No one wants some patches in a quilt (or a joining seam for the backing) to give out earlier than the rest of the quilt. Straight-of-grain is much less important in quilting than fabric integrity.

There are instances when ripping fabric is fine -- when making rag rugs, for example. For garment sewing, though, when finding the straight-of-grain can be important, I was taught to pull a thread and cut. Ripping is simply not as good a method. The only positive thing to say about ripping is that it is fast.
Prism99 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread Starter
Last Post
08-24-2018 08:30 AM
04-25-2013 11:46 AM
Links and Resources
08-27-2011 11:58 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

FREE Quilting Newsletter

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.