Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday Tips: Tearing on the grain

Hello Tuesday! 
I recently was working on a project where instructions said to tear the fabric and it will tear along the grain on a straight line.  This is true except pertaining to this project it doesn't work.  Unless you are told to straighten your fabric. What is all this mumbo jumbo jargon I am speaking?

Ok what is grain? The grain is the direction the threads run. You have lengthwise grain and crosswise grain.  Your crosswise grain threads are usually a tad weaker than your lengthwise threads. 
Lengthwise threads run parallel to your selvage, they are strong and stable because they need to be during the weaving process.  The weft (cross grain) threads are weaving in and out of them.

diagram above taken from Vogue Sewing. A book that is a keeper and excellent reference!
When you buy your fabric and come home you wash it right? Yes I am a stickler for this, maybe it is my design background but all fabric should be washed before using it.   When you wash it the fabric goes back to it's natural grain.  If you tear it afterwards it will tear along the grain and the fabric won't necessarily be even.  So back to the beginning of this post, I was a little perplexed and questioning myself when directions for this project said to tear the fabric.  I followed the directions and what do ya know,  I ended up with a strip of fabric not even.  My goal was a strip 1" wide.  rrgghh why didn't I trust myself.  I remember having to block pieces of fabric back in school.

So what should you take away from my mishap? Straighten your fabric before cutting.
Get your good ole L ruler and line up with your fabric.  If these edges don't match up you may need to do a bit of pulling and stretching the fabric back to grain.  Basically your edges will align up on all sides forming a beautiful 90 degree angle. 

For this specific project, I ended up cutting the fabric and not ripping.  The overall project took longer than it should have since I was going for a frayed edge.  However now I know.

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