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Straightening Grain
SweetPecola
SweetPecola
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Date: 10/20/11 8:06 PM

What is your experience with the following issues regarding straightening fabric grain? Is the following a way of dealing with grain problems, resulting in a garment that hangs on-grain (or at least a garment that hangs with folds and wrinkles caused by grain problems)?
I have worked so far with a limited range of fabric types - mostly muslin and denim (others have reported grain problems with denim [See Rennie Ashby's "Sewing with Denim" article in this websites Knowledge Base]) purchased from Joann's.
I almost universally find that my fabric is off-grain after washing and drying. It is usually difficult, if not impossible to get it on-grain. I have spent literally days trying to get fabrics on-grain without success.
The method I have resorted to is the following.
I straighten the crosswise edges, usually by tearing the fabric along the crosswise grain (I don't usually get a better result by pulling threads and cutting).
I then fold the fabric in half lengthwise. I match the selvage edges only right in the middle of the fabric lengthwise and fold the fabric in half crosswise (if the fabric length is longer than my height). The fabric is now folded twice.
I then hold the fabric up in front of me, letting it fall as it will.
The fabric falls without any wrinkling or folding if I leave the fabric's crosswise edges unmatched. I then layout my pattern with the pattern grainline aligned with the lengthwise fold as I folded it, rather than aligning the pattern grainline with the selvage. I assume that the final garment is going to hang similarly lengthwise without wrinkles/folds caused by grain malalignment.
So far I have not noted problems with completed garments using this method. But I may be missing things. Does this seem to be a valid method? Is this a valid first method to use universally with all off-grain fabrics? Or should I still tug and pull first and resort to this method as a last resort?
Any input/opinions much appreciated!

Miss Fairchild
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In reply to SweetPecola


Date: 10/20/11 8:15 PM

I do the same as you, but I don't fold it crosswise again. What I do is I let it "float" to the floor. If you drape it across a chair or on a table, you will see what I mean. The selveges and one end might be off, and if they are, I step on one corner and hold an opposite corner in my hands and tug. I did this with drapery fabric, cotton fabric for the back of a quilt, and several other garment fabrics.

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auntie bellums
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Date: 10/20/11 8:18 PM

The only thing that I do different, and I don't know how effective it is, but it came from my sewing teacher back in Jr. High. I have someone hold opposite corners to me at stretch the fabric and then reverse corners and do the same. Most of the time it does help with those pieces that are off grain. Another thing, I try to avoid buying the last yard or two on the bolt. I've found that those are usually more off grain.

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quiltingwolf
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In reply to auntie bellums


Date: 10/21/11 1:31 PM

lol We must have had the same sewing teacher. That's what I was told but sometimes no matter how hard you try can't get it on grain. Especially if it has any kind of finish on it.

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Elona
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In reply to SweetPecola


Date: 10/21/11 3:25 PM

I have sewn since dinosaurs walked the Earth, and I learned all that stuff about "straightening the grain," too, and I think that back in the day, this kind of thing actually worked, but industrial practices have become very sophisticated as well as permanent.

Experience leads me to believe that bottom line is this: The 'grain' set at the factory shows itself after washing and drying, and nothing you can do--nothing--will change that.

SweetPecola
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Date: 10/21/11 5:18 PM

Thanks everyone for your input. Appreciate it.

Marie367
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In reply to auntie bellums


Date: 10/21/11 9:19 PM

I must have had the same sewing teacher in high school. She had us do this in class. I still do it with cottons-it works great but you need a partner.

Luckylibbet
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Date: 10/21/11 9:31 PM

Quote:
Experience leads me to believe that bottom line is this: The 'grain' set at the factory shows itself after washing and drying, and nothing you can do--nothing--will change that.


I totally agree - with modern processing methods this is so true, and when you get cheap fabric it is definitely caveat emptor (let the buyer beware).

I also agree with the poster who stated that buying the last couple of yards off a bolt is asking for trouble - not always, but enough times to make me wary.

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Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. - Steve Jobs

Debbie Lancaster
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Date: 10/21/11 9:33 PM

I agree with Elona. If after trying to straighten the grain and allowing the fabric to relax, it returns to its off-grain self, give up and cut it on what it appears to want to be the grain.

I think they must heat- or chemical-set the fibers at the factory, and if you "straighten" it and then sew it up, it will return to the grain it wants to have and all your time and effort will have been wasted.

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Debbie

workinonit

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Date: 10/21/11 11:43 PM

i agree with Elona, Debbie etc.... the grain rarely stays were you put it. when you buy the fabric, if they pattern on the fabric is important or the pattern relies on cross grain stretch, then reconsider the fabric. otherwise, just sew it as it hangs... and save yourself a lot of angst and possibly a piece you wont wear. good luck.

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