Saturday, December 11, 2010

Straightening Fabric

You know how sometimes you can wear a piece of clothing and it just won’t hang straight? Or you are constantly adjusting it because it feels twisty? Or you lay out a piece of fabric with the selvages lined up and it won’t lay flat? That’s because the fabric hasn’t been straightened. Without going into the warp and weft and 90 degree angles, etc. (I’m not writing a thesis here!), here’s what I do to prepare my fabric for cutting:

Wash, dry, and press the fabric.

Hold the fabric by its selvage between your fingers and thumbs.

Look at how the fold of the fabric is hanging. Is it nice and straight on both sides?
Or is it hanging wonky?

Another way to check this is to hold your fabric by the selvages off the edge of your cutting table and pull it to the top of the table so that the edge of the table is smoothing out the fabric. When the fold comes up you will see if it is laying flat or if the fold wants to curl up on one side.

Hold the fabric again as in the first picture and move the fabric back and forth between your fingers and thumbs until you get the fold of the fabric hanging straight on both sides. Once you have it hanging straight, lay it on the table.  Using your ruler, line up your ruler with the fold edge or the selvage edge, cut off the long edge of the fabric to have a straight cut (In this example, I cut on both sides for the pillowcase hem). Sometimes you might have to cut off a lot, and sometimes you don’t have to cut off very much at all.

Obviously, scraps or small pieces of fabric that come in kits can’t be straightened by this method and rarely need it anyway. I look at the threads and try to line them up with my ruler and get it as close as I can. For the big pieces of yardage, I just do my arms length at a time and straighten as I go.

So, why go to all this? Well, we want our quilts to hang straight, we want our pillowcases to not twist up, we want our tablecloths and napkins to lay nice and flat and then, when it’s time to put away, fold up nicely. Straightening the fabric helps all that.


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