fabric cutting is essential to better swaps and sewing

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Barbara Posted: Sat, Feb 9 2013 8:05 PM

Caryl Anne here you go ,thanks for doing this . Barbara

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Hello everyone, I am telling you a story that has nothing to do with fabric swaps; however, it is ALL about fabric cutting for your swaps. I am a stickler for straight grain cutting, so if you are interested in learning a great technique, here are the basics and the story of how I came to know what to do to prepare the fabrics.

Fifty years ago, I wanted to learn to sew my own clothes My Mother at the time had five girls to dress, I was going into HS & needed dresses. Mother took me to Cloth World where we purchased two patterns for quick A-line dresses and skirts. Rather quickly, I noticed that the dresses did not fit at the shoulders and the sleeves did not go together easily. Six months later, in Home Ec class, came new knowledge about pattern placement, but first we had to find the warp grain for our pattern’s arrow to follow. In the ’60’s, I was taught to tear fabric across the WOF; this method still used in some fields, but NOT for piecing or fashion.

About the mill: Fabrics being wound onto the bolts are folded by an arm, the first 8” or so are wrapped haphazardly onto the board, so when the fold is formed the selvedges may or may not line up leaving as much as a two inch gap. Therefore, when we buy our fabric yardages the fold line is simply not straight. Have you ever bought the ‘end of bolt’? Did you notice that very wrinkly mess?

TIP I ALWAYS purchase at least two extra inch of fabric. Sometimes the person cutting will let me do a selvage-to-selvage shake before they cut my yardage, Ask you counter person.  

Prepping fabric:  To wash or not to wash, that is an ongoing discussion. I wash, dry and press my fabrics, with the exception of yardage for swaps.  

How I prepare fabric to find the straight grain. With wrong side, facing up, open and steam press the center crease as well as any deep creases from the factory; you may require using a spritz of water or a bit of sizing.  Pressing and ironing are two different processes.

  • After pressing, Hold your fabric with both hands your pointer fingers between the two selvedges at shoulder height, now move the selvage between your fingers while looking to the floating edge. Move until there is no wave in that edge, you are looking for a smooth flow. Lay the fabric onto your cutting surface, run your hand over the new fold and keeping an eye on your selvage feel that there is no bump in the road.  Bring the new fold toward you over the selvages smooth again until you feel no differences in the top to the bottom of that fabric. Look down the length of your work piece each lengthwise edge should line up. Flip your ¼ fold piece so that the NEW fold is on a line on your mat and is closest to you; lift the end edge to see where your first cut will remove all of that uneven fabric. Using the lines on the ruler, see that one solid black line is on the ¼ fold and that another ruler marking is straight at the other end of the folded piece. Now are the lines lining up with the ruler and mat? Well you are ready to CUT.  CUT your WOF then measure using two or more reference points to cut the remaining pieces.
  • Now you have your fabric ready to go. You will not only have a better cut of swap fabrics, you will sew faster and straighter because you do not have to fight any bias. 
TIP: You WILL want to true up your cutting edge more than once when you are working with yardage. For example while cutting for my paisley FQ swap, I squared up, then sliver trimmed twice.


Videos for learning to use the rotory cutters and the information for straight grain is available on You Tube. This one is good to see the two-ruler method of strip cutting.


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Now for some home images.. this fabric is children's sleep ware fabric, shrinks like the devil has a lot of sizing and I hate it, but what ya gonna do? Your fabric is washed, dried, and ready to work. Please ask questions. We are here to help you become a great cutter of fabric. No fear. Just measure, measure, breathe, and CUT.

 


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In cutting fabrics for your swaps, first you must know about the particular cut size. For FQ, the fabric is prepared, then cut at 18" along the length - a standard cut. The fabric is then sub-cut one time on the center fold. Your fabric now is a FQ even if it is only 18 x 20. In other words 1/2 yard of fabric cut in half is a FAT QUARTER - no matter what the WOF is. FQ's have the selvages still attached. Not all FQ's are created equal as not all fabrics are the same width. I do not ever worry about the WOF. 

1 6.5 usable

The foodies have us in dreamland with jellyrolls, turnovers and layer cakes. You find several swaps doing layer cakes, and a few who love the jellyroll. So let’s take a cutting lesson.


For a Jelly Roll, after preparing the fabric cut increments of 2-1/2" strips by the WOF. There are no sub cuts. Tip: Be very aware of movement while cutting; if your ruler sways, so will your jelly roll. You may need to sliver cut a few times when cutting yardage. The selvages stay intact.


What is a layer cake? It is chocolate and chocolate and chocolate chips on top.. LOL... just in case you're baking!
If you're cutting for a layer cake swap, it is a bit more involved than the other cuts. This cut must be exact so that your swap group can use them as is or in charm cuts. ~~~ After the prep, you will cut 10" strips by the WOF, and lay a folded strip on the mat. Cut 1/8" past the selvage edge. Now  cut 10" and then 10". You now have four layer cake cuts, and a nice piece of fabric that you can use as sashing for another project.

 
 Off cut layer cake: You can see what happened when the grain was off.

I hope I have given you something to think about. Swaps are so much fun in the giving as much as the getting; however, when we get fabrics that are not cut properly, we tend to have tiny crying fits in our sewing spaces. Let's get cutting and having fun in our quest to get more tops made.


Have more fun with knowledge
!! 

 


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Marie replied on Sun, Feb 10 2013 4:05 PM

Carylanne, great tutes, pics and video on youtube.  Thank you.

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Barbara replied on Mon, Feb 11 2013 3:29 AM

Caryl Anne ,this is wonderful ,thank you so much ,you did this much better then I would have done.  I know everyone will be helped greatly by this, I know I was. Barbara

Liberty,Missouri

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Phyllis replied on Mon, Feb 11 2013 12:02 PM

thanks Caryl Anne, great information to have and very easy to understand.

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Rhonnie replied on Mon, Feb 11 2013 12:20 PM

Caryl Anne...

Thanks so much! I know I have fought with fear of cutting for years and my daughter just started she will be glad to know the correct way before she gets a bad habit. I will have to print this off and put it in my binder with other patterns and information that I keep.

I was wondering is it wrong to buy an extra yard or two incase its really off grain *giggles* ?

I'm a material girl....Want to see my fabric collection?

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Joyce replied on Mon, Feb 11 2013 7:37 PM

Carol Ann, thank you so much for all the cutting information.  I have read it over but was tired.  So I printed it out and put it on my cutting table so I will reread it before I cut my Easter Swap squares.  I did cut the way you said but I didn't refold the fold.  It will be interesting to see how things go next time.  Great info.  Thanks again.

 

Joyce

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Oh, wow I am glad that y’all understand my information. I did not realize that this was even in discussion form. I was thinking it would be a page on swap group.   
Thank Barbara for letting me put my knowledge to paper. Thanks you all!!
BTW I have this saved as a file on my computer so if you would like it Please send me a PM I will contact you and send it, no need to copy from these pages.
Quote from Rhonnie I was wondering is it wrong to buy an extra yard or two incase its really off grain *giggles* ? 
I would, just in case.. LMAO


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Tina replied on Mon, Mar 11 2013 12:09 PM

Thank you again!  I've got some new things on my favorites list now!

 

:-)

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Debbie replied on Sun, Apr 7 2013 7:56 AM

Rhonnie:
Thanks so much! I know I have fought with fear of cutting for years and my daughter just started she will be glad to know the correct way before she gets a bad habit. I will have to print this off and put it in my binder with other patterns and information that I keep

Got my fabric and tried to square it up yesterday.  This is my first time to do a swap and cut fabric into FQ, jelly rolls or anything besides pieces for a quilt per directions so I am a really nervous and haven't put the rotary cutter on the fabric yet.  Just don't want to mess it up.  I plan on cutting today so I can get it in the mail this week. 

I've reread the directions about six times but still scared.  I think the square up first has me most anxious.

"I'm just a poor soul who's intentions are good.   Oh, Lord, Please don't let me be misunderstood."

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Debbie replied on Sun, Apr 7 2013 7:59 AM

Caryl Anne:
I was wondering is it wrong to buy an extra yard or two incase its really off grain *giggles* ? 
I would, just in case.. LMAO

Darn,I didn't think to do that.  Oh, Lord please don't let me mess it up.  Guide my hand as I cut!

"I'm just a poor soul who's intentions are good.   Oh, Lord, Please don't let me be misunderstood."

Debbie (dear1953)  

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Hi Debbie, I am sure you will be just fine cutting your fabric. If it will make it easier to square up you can always trim off a piece and do them in smaller increments. As in the FQ and Jellyroll swap they can be cut from small pieces. Let me show you the math you need 18” + 5” of fabric to make two sets. Your 18” will make two FQ and the 5” will make two jellyroll cuts. Therefore, the 23” is cut from 24” or 2/3yr of fabric. You can easily true up this size. Remember to press out all wrinkles and the center crease first before working the fabric. It may not seem like a lot but one wrinkle across the grain can mess up the entire piece. For your first time with 4 yards of fabric, my suggestion is to press then measure  48”using the selvage edge of the fabric. Place a pin in this spot, now fold over you fabric to this mark. Don’t worry about the hanging fabric from the rest, just shake it down as best you can, lay the 48" on a flat surface then smooth your hands down the piece you are going to cut, feel that there isn't any waves or bumps. You can now see the edges that are not even. Trim off the very smallest amount, now then you will be fine to cut at the pin. From this piece you cut (2) 18” WOF and (4) 2.5” WOF.   If you are not ready, then pull out a piece of muslin and practice that technique. You will be so thrilled to know how to do this squaring up, your fabric cuts for every quilt will be so much easier to work with and mercy the sewing goes quickly and smooth without any unnecessary bias edges to sew. Good cutting means easy sewing.. Love to help. if you need any more help please let me know you can look on our conversations and call me.


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Debbie replied on Sun, Apr 7 2013 8:00 PM

 

Caryl Anne:
For your first time with 4 yards of fabric, my suggestion is to press then measure  48”using the selvage edge of the fabric.

this would have been good to do.  Caryl Anne, but didn't see this ttill after cutting so hope I did it okay.  I came out with enough and had a small 3.5" jelly roll left over.   Now just need to get a couple of mailers and get it in the mail. 

Thanks for all your help!

"I'm just a poor soul who's intentions are good.   Oh, Lord, Please don't let me be misunderstood."

Debbie (dear1953)  

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