Tear or Cut?

Many, many years ago, when I was in high school, my sewing teacher told
us when we bought fabric to NEVER let them tear it, as it pulled it off
grain. Yesterday, while in my LQS, the lady ahead of me asked that they
tear, instead of cut, as it kept the fabric ON grain. For decades, I've
been insisting that my yardage be cut. Now - I'm confused. I'd like to
know what everyone else does??? And does tearing pull the fabric off
grain? TIA.
Patti in Seattle
Reply to
Patti S
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IMO, these days, the surface treatment that give fabric will determine whether it's on or off grain, and any amount of straightening has no effect, it returns to the processed-in position after washing. Therefore any crookedness caused by tearing would also return to whatever it was before. Tearing does tend to bruise the fibers right next to the tear, and when you wash the piece before cutting, it might ravel more if it's torn on the grain. But the amount lost to tearing always seems less than the amount I would have to trim off on a piece that's cut crookedly. I've had to cut strips that were close to 3 inches wide on one end, just to get a piece reasonably on grain. I prefer to have a straight crossways grain and don't worry if the selvedges are wonky. So my vote is to tear, given the choice. Roberta in D
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Reply to
Roberta Zollner
And my vote is to cut, given the choice. *grin*
As long as I get all the usable fabric I pay for, I don't get worked up one way or the other. If it's torn, I find I have to trim some away, even after washing, because tearing puts a ripple in the last 1/2 or so. If it's cut, they rarely cut it as straight as I'd like (I'm more worried about it being perpedicular to the edges than on the straight of grain.), so I still have to trim.
Reply to
Kathy Applebaum
In article ,
I'd have to weigh in on the side of cutting, too, for the same reasons as you, Kathy.
Reply to
Sandy
One way to tell.... pull a lose thread... if it is cut on grain -- you should get a piece of thread pretty close to the width of your fabric. If it was cut off grain, you will get short pieces.... until you do away with all of the short off-grain threads.
I do believe that tearing the fabric results in a line that is more straight of grain -- but you do get that ripple that usually necessitates an additional cut (losing you about 1/2 - 3/4 of an inch of fabric.
If you really want to have a cut that won't budge ... cut parallel to the selvage. I often try to do my borders this way as it really (IMHO) helps to stabilize a quilt -- especially a wall hanging that I want to be sure hangs square.
Kate in MI
Reply to
Kate G.
Some people think that when you tear fabric you rip all along one thread. Some fabrics do this but all do not.
Tearing can stress the weave of the fabric as well, so it can pull things out of square.
I remember once shopping with my mom. She was making me a Christmas dress and wanted the bodice to be velvet. Crazy fabric store person tore it. It tore in a strange triangle shape and not even close to selvedge to selvedge. She tried to sell my mom that odd piece of fabric and acted like it was a more accurate 1/2 yard that what would be cut. I doubt it was even a 1/4 yard.
marcella
In article ,
Reply to
Marcella Peek
Cut. No question about it. Years and years ago tearing was good. Not now. Fabric is treated to resist wrinkles and that sets the grain. I tend not to buy at a couple of the LQSs that tear fabric. End up wasting a good bit of it.
Pati, in Phx
Reply to
Pati Cook
Kate.... I have never heard of the "pull a loose thread" trick. That's really good to know. From what I've read, I think it's best to stick with cutting the fabric. The only thing I really "tear" around here is old towels, when they go to the rag pile to die.
Thanks everyone - I was really curious!
Patti in Seattle
Reply to
Patti S
All the places I've bought fabric recently cut them anyway, so I don't have to ask, I haven't really thought about it, but I do prefer it that way, but it's nothing to do with the grain, it's simply that when you tear you get more loose thread and these tend to tangle in the bag, on the shelf, when being washed and so on.
When I'm dealing with fabric myself, I don't have the luxury of a huge cutting table, where I can roll it out with a groove for the scissors and I tear and don't seem to have an issue with it, when preparing a backing or extracting a manageable piece. If I'm going straight to cutting, the quick handling means the tangling is not an issue and the waste is minimal, I'd waste more through not being able to cut accurately with available facilties, for a backing, after I'd basted, I will go round and cut with scissors so the tangling isn't an issue.
To me, the cutting in the shop isn't really a grain issue, you don't take there cut as something you use, it's just how they give you the fabric off the bolt, most seem to be pretty good at giving you that extra inch so if it's off, you still get your yardage, even with washing, only once have I ever had a piece of fabric come out shorter than I wanted and it was only 1/4 of an inch, but it was neatly cut and all useable.
Anne
Reply to
Anne Rogers
Matching up the selvages will give you a straight lengthwise grain, but won't correct the crosswise grain. Tearing or pulling a thread can give you a straight crosswise grain, but then your lengthwise grain may be off. If the fabric has a surface treatment, the grain is set. Sometimes the grain gets skewed when the fabric is put on the bolt; washing it will restore it to the way it was before that. I usually don't worry about grain after washing the fabric. I could tug and pull and maybe get the lengthwise and crosswise grains perpendicular, but they would go back after washing. I don't worry about it anymore. The only place on a quilt that it could possibly matter is on long borders. If you cut the border on the lengthwise grain (parallel to the selvage), the lengthwise grain will be straight. The lengthwise grain is a bit more stable, so that is often preferred for long borders. For garment sewing, I make sure the lengthwise grain is correct because that is more important for the way the garment hangs. I don't buy plaids that are obviously off grain.
Julia in MN
Reply to
Julia in MN
Something like plain muslin I don't hesitate to tear. Simple cotton fabrics like that almost always tear straight with minimal distortion on the length. Other even weave fabrics that may be treated or whatnot, I'll nick the selvedge and pull a couple of threads, to make a cutting guide. It also lets you see how well the fabric was printed.
NightMist
Reply to
NightMist
When the cloth is torn you can see where the straight of grain is better, but it does sometimes pull lengthwise threads, and on a print that can show for as much as a couple of inches. I like to be sure my border and sashings are really straight, don't worry as much about pieces that are smaller, unless they are woven stripes or plaids.
To straighten fabric, tear one end or ravel the end until you can pull out a thread all the way across. You may be amazed how far off the fabric is. Hold the fabric at the center fold and see which corner is the short one. Find the corner at the other end of the piece of fabric that is diagonal from the short corner - it might not look short because of the cutting, but it is - and pull on the 2 short corners (you may need a friend or spouse to help if it is a long piece). Check every so often to keep from pulling it too much, and to be sure you are pulling the SHORT corners.
After all the grabbing and pulling you will need to iron out the wrinkles you put in where you held on. I like to pin the torn edge and the selvedges and iron with steam to set the new alignment of the threads, except I try not to iron right on the fold, because I usually don't want a crease there. I don't have a "big board" so I iron on a beach towel on my bed if I am doing 2 or more yards.
I know people who never straighten, and people who always do. I think a quilt hangs more evenly if the long pieces are straight.
Jane in NE Ohio- the weatherman said rain and snow mixed for tomorrow. The poor flowers & fruit trees don't know what to do.
Reply to
Jane Kay
Was looking up something in a book I have (can't remember the name of it) and happened upon this question. I've done both. I was suprised that, in the book, Jinny Beyer says she tears. 17 million years ago in home ec we were taught to snip the selvage and pull one thread. Fortunately, I'll use whatever I have, whether cut or torn.
Reply to
Phyllis Nilsson

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