Straightening the Ends of Your Fabric

Ever buy a length of fabric, fold it in half, only to find that the ends are way off grain? Sometimes one end will be inches shorter than the other!

Do the fabric stores in your area cut or tear your fabric? I prefer when they tear it rather than cut it, so that the edges are on-grain and I get exactly the amount I need, without having to straighten the ends and lose fabric.

Today I’ll show you a quick and easy way to straighten the ends of your fabric. Mine were off-grain for my sew-along dress, so I’ll show you what I did to fix them!

Note: This won’t work for all fabrics.. but it will for most rayons, cottons, shirtings, seersuckers, and other stable woven fabrics.

Determine which end is longer and which is shorter. On my fabric, I can easily see that one side is an inch or so shorter than the other side.

Make a small snip about 1/2″ (1-2cm) down from the raw edge, and try tearing your fabric. (You’ll know right away if it won’t tear!)

If it’s tearing, keep going until you’ve removed a strip of fabric from the edge. If your strip of fabric pulls off before you’ve made it all the way across, make another small snip about 1/2″ (1-2cm) lower, and try tearing again.

Now, our fabric edges line up! I’ve arranged the lower layer for this photo so you can see it, but the edges do in fact line up.

I usually do this with all of my fabrics, so it’s easier to align the raw edges. Also, this way I know I’m cutting through both layers, and I don’t have the  bottom layer of fabric missing for my ‘Cut 2’ pieces.

Any questions? Any tips or suggestions on straightening your fabric? Leave a comment below!

PS. Lots of good questions on the Sew-Along posts so far! I’ll  jump in and answer these today so you’re good to go over the weekend.

PPS. Have an awesome weekend, everyone! It’s a holiday weekend for us Canadians. The first sewing Sew-Along post is scheduled for Monday, and I’ll be enjoying a much-needed long weekend break!


21 Responses to Straightening the Ends of Your Fabric

  1. Gemma July 29, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    I see what you mean about getting the ight amount in the shop if they tear the fabric but it really makes me cringe! I sometimes tear fabric to straighten edges but only on really sturdy cottons – instead I make a tiny snip at the selvage and pull a crosswise thread to create a lovely cutting line!!

  2. Paula July 29, 2011 at 6:36 am #

    I find that when I tear a fabric – even a stable one like quilting cotton – the torn edge is a little wavy from the effort of tearing. Do you have that problem, and if you do, how to you correct it?

  3. Kat July 29, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    Hi Tasia, I was just wondering if we’ll be making a muslin as part of the sew-along, or going straight on with the fashion fabric? I didn’t get this from the schedule although I may have missed it, so sorry if so!!

  4. Lauren July 29, 2011 at 7:11 am #

    the local fabric store that i primarily shop at tears all their yardages (that can be torn, i mean!). i like it because then i know my fabric is on-grain so i don’t have to worry about it. and the riiip-riiiip you hear just sounds nice :) haha

  5. Suze July 29, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    What if the fabric is still off grain? Then you can’t get the ends to match for anything!

  6. Corinne July 29, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    One little tip, after tearing fabric you will have a bruised edge. with a steam iron, press, meaning up and down movement, not iron back and forth on that edge. If you have an ironing board cover with a straight edge, try to align the fabric with that edge as you press. Sometimes a very light spritz of sizing or spray starch will help. Be careful not to stretch the crosswise grain and you edges should line up just right.

  7. isidore July 29, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    I once lost 10 inches of a STRIPED shirting at joann’s thanks to a crooked cut!

  8. Sewing Projects July 29, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    The fabric that can be torn should be! Thanks for the quick tutorial.

    ~Living Dailies Sewing Publisher: Joanna

  9. Kristina July 29, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    If a fabric store did not usually tear their fabric, have you ever requested tearing? Did they ever acquiesce?

  10. Amy July 29, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    I can’t believe the first day of August is Monday. Where did July go? Well, bring on the Lonsdale Sew-Along! I’m excited for it to begin even if it does mean that summer is rapidly passing by.

  11. Tasia July 29, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    Hey, everyone! Lots of questions. Have I ever asked a store to tear fabric instead of cutting it? I think so, I can’t remember. It sounds like something I would ask for, if I thought it should be done.

    @Corinne: Thanks for the tip! That should answer the questions on what to do if your fabric edges are curled or stretched. I usually don’t worry too much about mine, unless I’m cutting a straight piece like a waistband right on the edge. Often it’s just a corner of a triangle that gets cut near that edge.

    @Suze: It’s true, sometimes the fabric will still be off-grain, which can sometimes be fixed by stretching it diagonally in the opposite direction. This tearing-trick helps with fabric that is on-grain.

    @Lauren: I like that sound too! especially with lining or other nice noisy fabrics.

    @Kat: Hi Kat! I didn’t include making a muslin as part of the sew-along due to time, because so many people wanted to get their dresses sewn while it was still summer! The sewing steps are very short, broken down into bite-size posts, so you may have time to make a muslin AND finish a dress before the sew-along’s over. Hope this helps!

    Have a great weekend everyone! See you all on Monday to start sewing!

  12. Emily July 29, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    Yep. Only tearing the ends will usually not help with straightening the grain, which is often distorted when the fabric is wound onto the bolt (especially at joann and the like).

    It could definitely be more clear, but for what it’s worth I posted a technique for straightening grain on BurdaStyle a while ago using an iron & steam:

    Tasia, thanks for warning this Bellingham-dweller about the Canadian holiday weekend! Really, I’m going to get my shopping done today ;)

  13. katrina July 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    Thank you for this Tasia!!
    Believe it or not, but at my local Joann’s (big chain store) they actually cut the fabric with those cheap plastic handled scissors and 90% of the time the edge of the fabric is jagged 1/2″ to 1 inch. It’s so strange that they do this, considering they have an entire aisle of Gingher’s scissors right next to the cutting table.

  14. Shawn Jackson July 30, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    Thanks for the post; very timely indeed.

  15. meagana July 31, 2011 at 5:37 am #

    Tasia, I hope you had a lovely weekend, you deserve it. I want to thank-you for your awesome tutorials you have given us as part of the sew along. They are brilliant and very informative. I have learnt so much already and I haven’t even started sewing. Thank-you.

  16. Tasia August 2, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    @Emily: Thanks Emily! Hope you got your shopping done before the Canadian rush :)

  17. Tasia August 2, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    @meagana: Aww, thank you! I did have a lovely weekend! And I didn’t touch my computer for three whole days, it was so relaxing. I’m so glad that you’re learning lots and enjoying the sew-along so far! it will get even better once we start sewing!


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