Have you ever considered the weave of your fabric? In the world of loom weaving, this is called the warp and the weft. In the quilting world, we call this the straight-grain and the cross-grain.
I thought I'd share a few things about how fabric behaves, depending on how you cut it and the best uses when cutting your fabric in each direction. You might be surprised at what a difference it makes!
First, we have the cross grain or the “weft” direction. These are the threads that run from selvage to selvage. This is the most common direction to cut strips for quilting. We typically cut our binding strips this way before sewing them end to end. This makes for great binding because the cross grain has a little bit of stretch to it. That little bit of stretch will help the binding go on smoothly and wrap snuggly around the quilt.
Now, we have the straight of grain or the “warp”. These are the threads that run the length of the fabric parallel to the selvage edge. When the fabric is being made on the loom, these threads are pulled very tight which makes for flat fabric, but it also means there is no stretch whatsoever when cutting strips in this direction. You have to be careful when using strips cut straight of grain, the lack of stretch will often pucker the fabrics around it because they have more stretch and the difference between the two will cause issues. The key to using straight of grain cuts for borders or sashing is to measure and pin, measure and pin.
One use that is ideal for straight-of-grain binding is when facing a quilt instead of binding it. The non-budging nature of the straight of grain strips will hold those edges perfectly flat giving a wrapped canvas look.
Last, but not least, we have the bias-cut strips. These are cut diagonally across the fabric. Typically, that's done at a 45-degree angle, although it isn't necessary. These strips will stretch like crazy, because all the threads making up their weave are shorter, without having the warp or weft running the length of the strip for stability. Bias cutting a striped fabric does make a cute binding on a straight-edge quilt though!
Bias-cut strips are ideal for binding a scalloped edge where the binding has to curve in and out of the scallop. You’ll need its stretchy nature to manipulate those curves.
I used bias-cut strips to piece “vine” like curves into the background of this art quilt before adding the flowers on top. They will bend in gentle arches if cut narrow enough, and they press out beautifully once pieced in.
How interesting is that, huh? I found this video on YouTube that shows the most amazing parts of the fabric weaving process, and I thought you would enjoy it too!
Happy Sunday everyone,
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