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Thread: Pulling a thread to get a straight of grain

  1. #1
    Super Member Central Ohio Quilter's Avatar
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    There was a discussion here a couple weeks ago about whether or not you make sure your fabric is on the straight of grain before you start cutting.

    Some said they tear their fabric to get it on straight of grain. Some said they pull a thread to get it on straight of grain. Some people said they never pay any attention to straight of grain. Tearing the fabric can sometimes pull the edges funny and ruin an inch or two or the torn edge.

    I always pull a thread to get a straight of grain before I start cutting. My mom taught me how to pull a thread when I started sewing many, many years ago.

    Someone asked if I could do a tutorial on how to pull a thread.

    Your first step is to determine where to start pulling. Look for how the threads are raveling off of the end of the fabric and start in the area where the threads are at the lowest and there are threads raveling away from this point. This may be at one end of the fabric, or it may be in the middle someplace, depending on how the fabric was cut.

    Start by pulling the thread at this lowest point very gently, gathering up the fabric to either side of the thread you are pulling. Pull the thread only a little at first, maybe an inch or two. (If you are starting on the end of the fabric, you will be pulling the thread only one way.) As you gather up the fabric, very gently work that gathering out along the length of the fabric. Then pull the thread a little more and keep working the gathers out, along the length of the fabric.

    You will see a line forming, where you are pulling the thread. On some fabrics this line is easy to see and on some fabrics it is harder to see. Sometimes it may be easier to see on the back of the fabric than it is on the front.

    Keep pulling, gathering, and working the gathering out until you have the line all the way across the fabric. Once you have the pulled thread line all the way across the fabric, line your ruler up on the line and cut with your rotary cutter on the line. Your fabricís edge is now on the straight of grain and is ready to start being cut for very straight strips, without wonky edges or raveling edges.

    Sometimes, when you are pulling the thread, the thread may break part way across the fabric. Cut along the line that you have pulled so far to the area where the thread broke. Then continue pulling the same thread if you can find it or start pulling another thread that is along the pulled line.

    I check that the cut edge of my fabric is at right angles to the selvedge. Sometimes it isnít and then you have to pull and stretch the fabric along the bias of the fabric to get it back straight. You can also wet the fabric and block it back into shape.

    This extra step may not be real necessary if you are just cutting small pieces, but I would not ever cut a long strip of fabric without straightening the edge like this.

    I hope this helps. Let me know if you try this and how it works for you!
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Rose Hall's Avatar
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    great job explaining this! I remember learning how to do this years and years ago in my Home Ec class before laying a pattern out on the fabric. Brings back happy memories.
    thanks for sharing!
    Rose Hall

  3. #3
    Heavenly Threads's Avatar
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    thanks for this..It is very informative...

  4. #4
    kso
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    Senior Member kso's Avatar
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    This is absolutely the only way to find straight grain. (without causing any damage from tearing)

    Sadly, when you use this method, you will find that MANY fabrics have not been printed on the straight of grain and when that happens, no matter how much you pull or stretch, your print will always be "off".

  5. #5
    Super Member Central Ohio Quilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kso
    Sadly, when you use this method, you will find that MANY fabrics have not been printed on the straight of grain and when that happens, no matter how much you pull or stretch, your print will always be "off".
    Oh, that is SO true. It is so difficult when using striped fabric especially that has not been printed on the grain. You have to choose between using the straight of grain or the straight of the stripe/pattern. I hate it when that happens!

  6. #6
    Senior Member kem77's Avatar
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    Thank you for the information it helps out greatly.

  7. #7
    Super Member sharoney's Avatar
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    Yes! This was the first thing we learned to do in Home Ec!

  8. #8
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    I never knew this. Thank you

  9. #9
    Senior Member lighthouse's Avatar
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    I never check for the straight grain of fabric, and I should. Thank you for this tutorial. :-)

  10. #10
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    Thank you for explaining this and for the pictures too :D:D:D

  11. #11
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    Thanks, I am going to try it in my next project! Will let you know.

  12. #12
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    Great explanation. I learned this in Home Ec also and always did it when I was sewing clothes. But when I started quilting I have only done it when I saw a piece was really off.

    I just bought quite a bit of fabric pieces from Connecting Threads and prewashed them. I was amazed how straight the pieces were. Where they raveled is a perfectly even line of fringe. They were cut perfectly. I am very pleased.

  13. #13
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    I learn by doing, so I ran and "did".

    thanks for the tute!!

  14. #14
    Super Member laalaaquilter's Avatar
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    Thanks again COQuilter for posting!

  15. #15
    1choice4quilting's Avatar
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    Memories... first thing we learned how to do in sewing class. However, I haven't done it since. Perhaps I need to start doing this?

  16. #16
    dd
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    We never learned this in Home Ec but my older sister taught me this even before then. In HOme Ec I was taught to slide the selvedge edges until there were no wrinkles in the lengthwise fold.

  17. #17
    Super Member SueSew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Central Ohio Quilter
    Quote Originally Posted by kso
    Sadly, when you use this method, you will find that MANY fabrics have not been printed on the straight of grain and when that happens, no matter how much you pull or stretch, your print will always be "off".
    Oh, that is SO true. It is so difficult when using striped fabric especially that has not been printed on the grain. You have to choose between using the straight of grain or the straight of the stripe/pattern. I hate it when that happens!
    That has happened to me with some sale fabric from Joanns. What do you do then? Go for the grain and ignore the print or line up the print?

  18. #18
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    As a Home Economist that was trained in pattern drafting., we were taught to never tear fabric- actually pulls the threads as was noted out of grain, depending on the weave for inches and more. Good tut!

  19. #19
    1choice4quilting's Avatar
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    Very interesting conversation as I have heard that stores will rip fabric instead of cutting fabric when ordering.

    PS I Quilt had a discussion about this on her blog just last week. What are your thoughts on this subject?

    http://www.psiquilt.com/2011/03/to-r...ot-to-rip.html

  20. #20
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    Thanks! That was very helpful!

  21. #21
    Super Member moreland's Avatar
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    Good demo- but I am not convinced it is necessary for quilting to get "straight of the grain"--pieces are small, they are attached to other fabric- then stitched into place with the quilting so there is nothing left to "hang straight" as there is in garment sewing, where SOG is very important. IMHO

  22. #22
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    Pulling a thread is necessary when using linen for needlework but not for yard goods. So many times a design is not printed squarely. A woven plaid would need a pulled thread but anything with a printed design doesn't, it's a waste of time and fabric.

    Carol J.

  23. #23
    Senior Member AnitaSt's Avatar
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    Thanks for the refresher and reminder that this is an important thing to do. I didn't take home ec but I remember my mother teaching me how to do this.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Johanna Fritz's Avatar
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    I like your tutorial. Thanks for posting. Personally, I always tear. It is also nice if my fabric is long (3 or 4 yards). I estimate how much I need with strips, multiply to find length, add 1.5-2.0 inches and tear. That way I am working with a smaller section to rotary cut.

  25. #25
    Super Member thrums's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rose Hall
    great job explaining this! I remember learning how to do this years and years ago in my Home Ec class before laying a pattern out on the fabric. Brings back happy memories.
    thanks for sharing!
    Rose Hall
    me too!

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