Friday, May 16, 2008

How to straighten your fabric ready for pressing tutorial

I'm a pre-washer, which means that I wash all my fabrics before I cut into them. One of the things that you have to do if you are a pre-washer is to straighten the fabric out ready for pressing and I thought I would share how I do that. (Disclaimer...I know that in some schools of thought one should stretch it on the bias to make it straight again...I suspect that may be more important for clothing sewing, but I find for quilting this method works for me and it was how I was taught when I first started quilting in 1994)

First you take your piece of fabric and you hold it out in front of yourself lining up the 2 selvedge edges. See how the bottom edge is rumpled and not straight.



Now slide the top layer of the selvedge left or right until the bottom edge fabric is no longer crumple and is straight.



Keeping hold of your fabric lay it across the ironing board and press making sure the selvedges are lined up the the fold is flat.



Now slide the fabric back and press up to the top edge. See how the edges aren't even..although it was cut straight at the shop.



By using this method of straightening before pressing you will ensure that the edges and your fold are straight ready for the cutting board.

14 comments:

Juliann in WA said...

good tips and wonderful pictures - I just love that orange ironing board!

jovaliquilts said...

Very neat to see that explained. I'm a prewasher, too, and have played around with what to do with pieces that come out all wonky. Your method is very clearly explained, thanks. But what about when you have real yardage -- do you just start with one section and if that's lined up, the others follow suit?

lovestitches said...

Ever since I made a kids smock and washed it, causing one fabric to shrink and the other not to shrink I'm a prewasher too.

Anita said...

I've been meaning to talk about this too. It's such an easy thing to do yet not many talk about it. Thanks!

Kim said...

Thank you Jane! This is exactly what I do and it makes a huge difference in the outcome of my quilt tops. It's good to purchase extra fabric so you aren't caught short when you find out just how out of line some of the fabric actually is.

Gillian said...

When fabric is off square, the answer is not always to re-cut the ends as you suggest. Sometimes the fabric has simply distorted in the wash.

When the ends have been ripped (or cut) on the weave and the fabric looks uneven as in the photos, the answer is not to re cut the ends, cos the cuts you make will not be along the grain. In this case, the answer is to boldly pick up the fabric, fold it along the diagonal, and stretch it back into shape.

If you have the correct diagonal, and you do this a few times, it will square up the fabric nicely. If you have the wrong diagonal, and your piece gets even further off-square, simply fold it across the opposite diagonal, and stretch away.

I learnt this method for squaring fabric when sewing from dressmaking patterns in the 1960s. I still have some old patterns that recommend that you square the fabric by stretching it along the diagonal.

This seems to be one of those little pieces of lost knowledge.

Gillian said...

Sorry, I have noticed that you don't recommend cutting the edges, just ironing the fabric.

Nevertheless, this method of stretching on the diagonal will get the cut ends to line up nicely and give you a nice square piece.

Sew Create It - Jane said...

Thanks Gillian for your advice. I can see how this would be quite valuable in dressmaking where the grain if the fabric is quite important. For me personally, I don't feel it as much of an issue in quilt making and the method I use to straighten the edge works for me. I don't think I could be so bold as to stretch anything on the diagonal.

andsewitis Holly said...

Good method that I use all the time, too, Jane. There's a store here that insists on tearing the fabric "on the grain" saying it will give you a true cut. NOT. I've lost as much as eight inches at times on either end and that's before washing. Makes a big difference.

andsewitis Holly said...

Just saw Gillian's advice. I'll have to try that! :)

Catherine said...

Great tutorial. I pre-wash as well. This will help a lot!

MarmaladeKiss said...

Hello, just been blogging around and found you .. This tip is WONDERFUL! I always get frustrated by how to straighten up fabric thinking it must be highly technical and complicated.

Feeling Simply Quilty said...

that's a great tutorial. Thanks for the information.

méri said...

Thanks! Great lesson!