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Thread: What do you do if you can't square your fabric?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Alberta Canada

    What do you do if you can't square your fabric?

    I thought I had a true squared up fabric when I shifted the folded fabric until I had even selvages and flat material. After I cut the edge I noticed I still did not have a straight edge. I then pulled the cross threads, laid it out again and placed the ruler on the edge to follow the straight edge, picture shows what I ended up with. What do I do now? I thought I would open it up to cut it with just two layers but the rulers still is not perpendicular to the edge or fold.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Having one square corner should result in all being square provided the fabric lies straight. If necessary, pick up fabric corner to opposite corner and tug. That could help you, also only one layer at a time if at all possible. Another alternative would be to clip into edge and tear. When I do this I usually trim the ragged edge before proceeding because I like sewing with sharply cut edges so I can measure quarter inch seams accurately. Good luck..

  3. #3
    Power Poster
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Have you washed this fabric yet?

    Sometimes that will help it 'relax/return' to it's natural state. AFTER washing, sometimes one can tug on it to get it on grain.

    google: straightening fabric grain

    for several suggestions.

  4. #4
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Back in my HS Home Ec days we pulled a thread across the width of the fabric at each end, cut on that line, then tugged on opposite corners until it was totally squared up.
    Can sometimes be a bit time consuming if your fabric is way off grain, but is worth the effort to get it lined up correctly.
    If the print is off grain, that is a whole different issue.

  5. #5
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Western Wisconsin
    Blog Entries
    With quilting, the fabric really doesn't have to be totally squared or "on grain". "On grain" matters more when sewing clothing, as grain affects the draping of garments. Being a little off-grain on the smallish pieces of fabric we use to piece quilts does not create a problem. You do not want your cuts to be on the bias (totally off-grain) because of the tendency for bias edges to stretch.

    In your example above, I would simply try to get near-grain on one side or the other. If you have even selvedges and a flat fold, that is enough. At that point any strips you cut will be near-enough on-grain to not matter. What you need to be careful of when cutting strips is to make sure your ruler is at an accurate 90 degrees from the fold. If it isn't, you will get the dreaded "V" bend in your strip where the fabric was folded.

  6. #6
    Super Member petthefabric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Eastern Madera County, Ca
    Wash the fabric to get it to relax into the shape it will want to maintain. Then not worry about the grain.

    Fold the fabric in half, selvage to selvage. Holding the fabric at the fold, pick it up, readjust the fold line until the selvages are together. Carefully lay the fabric on the cutting board with fold toward you.

    Line up the ruller on the fold, not the cut edge. Use 6 or 8 inch wide ruller so there's enough room to be sure the fold is on the lines. Trim the fabric to straighten the cut edge perpendicular to the fold/selvages.

  7. #7
    Power Poster
    Join Date
    May 2008
    I've started to cut most of my strips parallel with the selvage edge instead of width of fabric.

    That way I usually have at least two edges with the grain going the way I want.

    I think that the block goes together better when all the grain lines in the pieces go the same direction.

  8. #8
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Rapid City, SD
    If your fabric has been washed fold it in half and hold it by the selvage edges - if the folded edge curls then adjust the sides til it hangs straight - keeping the selvage edges matched. The ends may not be even at all - at this point square it. Don't know if that makes sense to anyone but it does work.

  9. #9
    Super Member eparys's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    New England, USA
    Prism99 is correct - grain line is essential in clothing but not as much here in quilting. I always line up the selvages, check to see if the fold lies flat - if not then I do as Petthefabric suggested. Then I square my first cut to the folded edge.

    My only deviation to this is when I want to follow a pattern in the fabric (such as stripes etc) then I fussy cut regardless of the grain. Hope this helps!!

    A quilt will warm your body and comfort your soul.


  10. #10
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    NE Ohio
    I sometimes buy fabric off the bolt that lines up nice and neat but when washed becomes kind of wonky.

    I try to fold selvage to selvage first...sometimes my selvages don't match perfectly - but most importantly you just want to make sure that your grain is straight and neat so when you cut a strip it isn't at an angle giving you sort of, mixed bias strips!

    **Edited to add - I politely disagree that grain doesn't matter in quilting - I think it matters quite a bit. If you're making a bang around quilt maybe not so much, but cotton fabric behaves differently when cut on the grain then on the bias. Definitely if you start entering your quilts in shows, some judges look at the grain to see that you cut correctly. Also you can get some distortion and warping by cutting pieces at an odd angle partially on the bias when they are meant to be cut on the straight or cross grain. I personally pay close attention to the grain. Don't be crazy about it, but I personally think it's a good idea to keep it neat!
    Last edited by pumpkinpatchquilter; 06-03-2013 at 03:52 AM.
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
    Obsessed Quilter and APQS Long Arm Machine Quilter

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