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Forum > Beginner's Forum > fabric being "off-grain" in general ( Moderated by EleanorSews)

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fabric being "off-grain" in general
how common is it?
demoiselle
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demoiselle
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Date: 6/27/13 11:50 AM

I always check to make sure my fabric is on grain. I haven't made that many things, but my two cottons for muslins and my inexpensive patterned cotton that is intended to become my top were all off-grain. I fixed the first fabric I used for my muslins, and the one that is waiting to become my top.

I can remember spending painstaking hours pulling a thread from my denim fabric to check the grain, as with my polyester suiting. At this point, I can't remember whether they were on-or-off grain once I'd gone through all that process.

Is being "off grain" more common when you buy things like my muslin cotton (Walmart clearance)? If it is, I might actually be willing to spend more for real muslin in the garment district . . . I know it's not a HARD thing to fix, but it is really frustrating to find your fabric is an inch and a half off-grain when you want to start pinning.

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lelliebunny
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Date: 6/27/13 12:56 PM

it has been my experience that the less expensive the fabric (when compared to the same type/fiber content), the more likely it is to be off grain.

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Canadian Jane
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In reply to demoiselle <<
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Date: 6/27/13 2:13 PM

Where I live, we don't have a lot of choices for fabric. Fabricland is our main source of fabric. There are some other specialty stores for quilting fabrics and high end fabrics.

I am willing to state this on record because I have told Fabricland this several times: Nearly anything I buy for them is off grain - sometimes both on the waft and weave. Meaning that if I pull threads horizontally and vertically I will not get a square. Worse, is that if it is a printed fabric it doesn't follow either the waft or weave. It is 3D off grain!! I won't buy fabric from FL anymore unless it is hugely discounted for this reason.

On woven fabrics I always used to always pull a thread to get my square. I know you can fix it being off grain to a point but what a PITA.

Ten years ago it wasn't nearly the problem as it is now.

Irina Grace
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In reply to demoiselle <<


Date: 6/27/13 2:38 PM

I never came accross with it... I buy muslin fabric in Joanns and Hancock and my muslins are fine. Well, I do not pull a thread unless it is silk chiffon or organza.... I made a couple dresses/top from simple 100% cotton from Hancock and never had a problem with a grain...I assume that lengthwise grain is parallel to selvedge.... I do not sew from polyester/stretchy fabrics. Maybe this is a problem with some unexpensive knits and synthetic?
-- Edited on 6/27/13 2:39 PM --

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Julia C
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Date: 6/27/13 2:41 PM

I was taught to always put your fabric on grain by either pulling a thread or ripping across the width of the fabric. The latter method will distort the weave for about 1/2" from the tear. It is always off grain. Yes, some pieces are worse than others. I think the worst was 4-6". This & shrinkage while washing are why I early on learned to buy at least 1/4 yd extra.

Kwaaked
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Subject: fabric being off-grain in general Date: 6/27/13 2:54 PM

It comes at all price points, FYI. I don't buy silk often (like 3 times in the last 10 years), but the last length that I bought was way off grain and it was $25 a yard, and every piece I have worked with was off ($15-25 a yard). I have also got $2 a yard fabric that was perfectly on grain and every problem and not in every price point.

Most of the polys I use are on grain, and rayon is a hit and miss, but it's not a biggie to straighten them.

Linen is the big one I have problems with from everywhere but fabrics-store.com. That was probably the easiest linen I have bought.

I have more problem with the country of origin more then I do the price. India and Pakistan origins are worse then China and Brazil.

ETA: And like Julia, I always get more then I need to do the same thing.
-- Edited on 6/27/13 2:56 PM --

Marilly
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Date: 6/27/13 3:59 PM

There is a post on Gorgeous Fabrics about this very subject and one way of working around it.
Single layer cutting for off grain fabrics

I've been checking grain that's similar to the way she describes in the blog post, by lining up selvedges and shifting them if the fabrics doesn't lie flat or if there's diagonal rippling at the fold if I hold & let it hang.
I'm not a big fan of the tearing and on anything heavy I'm not sure how well it'd work for me. Aren't there some fabrics you shouldn't use this method on? Besides knits of course.
Shel

Elona
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Date: 6/27/13 4:41 PM

When I was young, I was taught to straighten off-grain fabric and to do it religiously. As I got older (and probably the commercial finishing processes became more sophisticated), I noticed that my carefully straightened fabric reorganized itself back to the original factory setting as soon as the fabric or garment was washed and dried.

The end result is that I no longer straighten off-grain fabric. If it's woven and off-grain, I either get a refund from the seller or throw the fabric out if it's cheap.

For knits, which can be a little shifty without being a complete loss, I find and mark the 'grainline' (a visible rib or line of stitches) and fold the fabric on that or parallel to that. If the 'crossgrain' is not too wonky at this point, I cut the garment pieces using the grainline and ignoring the selvedge-type edges.
-- Edited on 6/27/13 4:42 PM --

JOshiro
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Date: 6/28/13 10:44 AM

Re the postwash reorganization - OK, I thought I was seeing some of that, too, but I chalked it up to not straightening it right the first time. Or being crazy. Or something.

carolynw
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Date: 6/28/13 11:21 AM

I would not rip a silk chiffon - or any chiffon for that matter - and any light weight fabrics - the risk being that of pulling a lengthwise thread right out and leaving an opening down your fabric - may not show in the long run best not to temp the sewing gods that be

That being said I do tear some of the more expensive lightweight cottons but never the silk/cotton lawn and also rip silk dupioni

As a quilter I was taught many years back to straighten everything just so and that has been with me since.

Frankly I don't find much problem with today's fabrics

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