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Thread: Tearing fabric to straighten it

  1. #1
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    Tearing fabric to straighten it

    I have been making tote type bags for an organization for people to carry supplies home in.

    I think the bags fold up better when they are cut on-grain.

    So - I will tear fabric to get it "straight" - when I have "lots" to work with.

    but I am also prepared to "sacrifice" at least 1/2 inch on either side of the tear that has been "mutilated' by the tearing. By "sacrificing" - I have about a 1/2 inch seam allowance so the "mutilation" is all in the seam allowance.

    I also press the torn ends to try to get them to "unruffle" a bit before proceeding.

    Tearing fabric makes me cringe if one is planning to use a 1/4 (or less) inch seam on the torn edge.

    Tearing damages the fabric - some fabrics don't seem to suffer as much as others, but some fabrics do not tolerate tearing well at all.
    Last edited by bearisgray; 06-08-2018 at 10:00 AM.

  2. #2
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    I'm with you, but it's only worth the trouble if I also pull the fabric to straighten the grain.

  3. #3
    Super Member Doggramma's Avatar
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    I find myself tearing fabric more and more. Borders work better for me when they're on the grain-I must unintentionally stretch them otherwise and they're wavy. Usually I have plenty of fabric so the ripped edge can be ironed and then trimmed.
    Lori

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    Super Member cashs_mom's Avatar
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    I used to tear fabric more when I was doing garment construction and straight grain was essential. I agree you do have to allow 1/2" (at least) seam allowances when you tear because of damage to the edges. Mostly I don't tear. I have used a system that someone posted here for cutting. She had an interesting way to get the fabric straight without tearing that I liked.
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    I have a couple of quilt tops that my mom had worked on 30 years ago. She tore a lot of the fabric, even when she wanted 2.5" sashing.

    I will tear to get a straight edge, but then normally work off that and don't tear more. I do tear when working with extra wide backing, but that normally tears very well. I tear off the selvages before putting it on the frame too.

    Once I get it mounted, I'll roll it back and forth a few times with a bit of tension on it, and that will straighten it out quite nicely. I always pre wash, and sometimes it's quite off before it gets mounted.
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

  6. #6
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    I like to tear wide backing fabric because it is always cut so crooked.

  7. #7
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    Do you ever tear fabric and end up with a huge amount torn off at one end? I quit tearing because of that. I used to tear all the time and never had a problem, but lately, I end up with a strip that widens to at least 2 inches. That is with quilt store fabric. It's a lot worse with JoAnns fabric.

  8. #8
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    OK, this is probably just my imagination, but it seems as though there is less collateral damage if I tear the fabric really fast. If I go slowly, it appears that there's more of a ruffled edge.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
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  9. #9
    Super Member Irishrose2's Avatar
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    I don't tear fabric to straighten it, except vertically to split a backing so I can add a expander strip. I did that last night and the edge looks pretty good. It won't need any trimming. The heavy fabric I use for bags doesn't seem to need it.

  10. #10
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    I tear fabric when making pillowcases--need to work on grain so the case will not 'roll' after laundry.

  11. #11
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    To find straight of grain pull a thread under you can pull it the length of your piece of fabric. It has no givr if straight of grain. I was taught this in Home Ec. years ago.
    Another Phyllis
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  12. #12
    Super Member Kassaundra's Avatar
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    I do not usually tear fabric (but have sometimes) if I need true straight of grain I usually pull a thread, much more time consuming but don't "stretch" anything and can use more of the fabric.
    "Never cruel, nor cowardly, never give up, never give in."

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    Ok, so pulling the thread gets the same result as ripping, but without the distortion? I've done both, but have too admit I enjoy ripping! On the other hand, I abhor fabric waste. Will try to take the time for thread pulling in the future.
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  14. #14
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    I sometimes pull a thread - but I get frustrated when the thread breaks before i get all the way across the width.

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    At the LQS I work at we tear all our wide backing fabric...too many times owner ended up short when the fabric was cut. Tearing puts the fabric straight on grain, an essential to LA quilting.

    To avoid distortion, a pulled thread on regular width fabric works well, as mentioned earlier.
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  16. #16
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    I pull a thread. The thread always breaks a couple of times, but I cut up to where the thread broke and sometimes find the end, but if not the next thread works fine. I agree that there is a gleeful satisfaction in tearing, but probably not good for the fabric.

  17. #17
    Super Member Irishrose2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by annievee View Post
    I tear fabric when making pillowcases--need to work on grain so the case will not 'roll' after laundry.
    Thank you for the reminder. I ordered fabric for graduation gift pillowcases last evening.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Quiltlady330's Avatar
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    Some fabric is so horribly crooked there is nothing you can do to find the straight of the grain without losing a lot of fabric. Very disappointing sometimes. These are mostly stamped designs and not woven.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jingle View Post
    To find straight of grain pull a thread under you can pull it the length of your piece of fabric. It has no givr if straight of grain. I was taught this in Home Ec. years ago.
    When I used to work in a professional textile restoration studio we did this. We would pull about three wefts and then cut along. A bit time consuming, but backing and supporting fabrics had to be on grain.

    HettyB

  20. #20
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    I don’t know if it’s just my imagination but I seem to remember at one time fabric was always torn by staff in fabric shops.

    Now I’ve noticed that when I buy from a general fabric shop the fabric will be cut with scissors or rotary cutter - and is rarely straight. As I tend to buy small pieces - sometimes just half or quarter yard/metre this can be very frustrating. Occasionally the assistant will give a generous measurement, knowing that they are not cutting straight, but not always.

    However, when I buy from a quilting fabric shop it’s a very different experience. One (pricey) shop I sometimes go to sells fabric by the inch. It is very carefully measured and cut using a rotary cutter and ruler.

  21. #21
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    I think lots of problems are avoided when fabric is on grain. I try to be careful when I buy fabric to be sure it is printed on grain (for the most part). I pull threads to get the grain line and pull the fabric diagonally when necessary. I know it is time consuming but I feel that it is worth it.

  22. #22
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    I use to make drapes and curtains for a custom made drapery shop, It doesn't take long to pull a thread and use that as your cutting guide.and you can cut on the straight of the grain this way.Once you get use to it ,it comes easy.

  23. #23
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    I recycle sheets and about the only way to deal with them is to tear. Yes, sometimes the grain is off resulting in waste, but I like to work with straight grain.
    "The great doing of little things makes the great life." Eugena Price

  24. #24
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    I prefer to wash my fabrics before cutting them - I like to see what they want to do "naturally".

    Occasionally I have come across a fabric that I am unable to straighten - or if I did straighten it, it wants to revert back to being off-grain. A bit like straightening naturally curly hair - or putting rollers into naturally straight hair.

  25. #25
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    "Pull" has been used in several posts here. It has different meanings. When you pull a thread, you take out one thread in the cross grain, which will show the exact straight grain line of the width. But then those edges have to match exactly when you fold the fabric in half again (or in quarters).

    In order to match this grain line when folded, you need to "pull" the fabric. When the fabric is folded in half, you will find one half is longer than the other. Lay fabric out flat. Grasp the shorter corner with one hand, then grasp the other side of the fabric at the other selvage about 42 inches down from the other corner so that you are pulling at a 45 angle. Give that bias a little tug. Move your hands a few inches closer to the long corner and tug again. Repeat the tugging until you get right to the corner. Now go back to your first tug and move down to the other end of the fabric and work into that corner. Fold the fabric in half again and see if it needs more tugging. You may see that it is perfect now or you may see that you need to tug a lot harder.

    In home-ec class, we always pulled a thread and then tugged until the ends were even.
    Mavita - Square dancer and One Room School Teacher

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