Cross grain strips: not a panacea for all piecing

If you’re like me and dislike working with 40″ – 44″ width-of-fabric strips, consider trying this:

Cut your patches with the longest side parallel to the lengthwise grain (the selvage edge). Having the longest side parallel to the lengthwise grain gives your patches maximum stability because there is little chance of them stretching out of shape.

I’ll use the lawn chair quilt as an example, together with the assumption that the width of the fabric equals 40 inches.

The lawn chair quilt requires (40) 2½” x 12½” white strips.

strip

If you use cross grain (width of fabric) strips, you would cut (14) 2½” strips, then sub cut each strip into 12½” segments. You would get (3) 12½” segments per strip.

Cross grain cutting diagram The sections marked with an X represent leftover fabric.

Cross grain cutting diagram
The sections marked with an X represent leftover fabric.

If cutting lengthwise strips, you would first cut (3) 12½” width-of-fabric strips, then sub cut each of those into (16) 2½” strips.

Lengthwise grain cutting diagram

Lengthwise grain cutting diagram

first cut

cutting strips

In the end, cutting my strips along the lengthwise grain was less efficient relative to fabric yardage required and the amount left over, but every cutting situation is different. I helped a customer at the shop one day who was having trouble understanding fabric requirements for a pattern. After studying it with pencil and calculator handy, we determined it would be more efficient for her to cut strips parallel to the selvage.

I cut strips from the batik fabrics the same way.

I cut strips from the batik fabrics the same way.

In the case of the lawn chair quilt, I was willing to use a bit more fabric in exchange for patches that are more manageable and an easier-to-work-with leftover piece. As with all things quilting, the decision is yours.

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Filed under fabric, rotary cutting

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