World Wide Quilting Page

Question of the Week

Question for the week of March 27, 2000:

Our question this week comes from Carol Brown

What is the preferred way to have yardage cut from the bolt in the fabric store -- cut with scissors, rotary cut, or snipped at the selvedge and torn?

Christiana Dean :
cut with rotary cutter; when sissors used don,t get an even edge, sometinmes wavey edge occurs, especially if sissor are getting dull; Tearing fabric will cause the threads to pull and leave areas beyond the torn area "white" in color


Vickie Speaks :
Most fabric stores cut with scissors. But from experience, I prefer rotary cutting.
Vickie Speaks :
Most fabric stores cut with scissors. But from experience, I prefer rotary cutting.
Lisa Valenzuela :
Always from the fold with a good sharp pair of scissors.
The only exception would be if it is a panel piece, fur(?) and checks. Then you cut from selvage single layer.
Too many fabrics do not come on grain from the manufacturer and ripping those can eat up your yardage.
Kaye :
I prefer scissors, but I'll take it any way I can get it, lol.
I agree with the other ladies though, regarding a little extra.
I refuse to go to Ben Franklin anymore because of this. A piece
of fabric I was interested in had a flaw in the material that was
4 inches in from the edge. Instead of just giving it to me (I could
cut around it for piecing) the sales lady cut it off and was going
to throw it away. I asked her why she couldn't just leave it on
and she asked if I wanted it dug out of the garbage. She then had
the nerve to say she would charge me for it. I told her 'no thanks'
and did not even buy what I had planned on purchasing. Needless to say
I have never been back.
Lynda Carey :
The way it is cut (ripped) depends on
how the fabric will be used in order to
avoid waste. For example,cutting is
prefered if you plan on slicing off
strips from the width with a rotary
cutter. If you plan on just tearing the
fabric, then getting it torn is prefered..
I worked in a fabric store for years and
many customers did not like the fabric
to be ripped. They claimed it would
creat waste
Caroline :
Who has ever tried to straighten the grain on cotton so that it is at right angles to the selvedge? Did it work out this way? Not for me, no matter if the fabric was torn, rotary cut or cut by scissors.
You may think you are getting the straight grain of the fabric if it is torn, but how much of that puckered, few threads, do you end up cutting off and at some exact measurement stores, you pay for the loss. And up here in Canada, its not 8 - 9 dollars per yard, its 13 - to 18 dollars per 40".

When the salesperson cuts with a rotary cutter, she folds the folded edge to the selvedge, lines up the ruler with edge and cuts through the four thicknesses. The cut may not be on the straight grain, but the small-sized patches we cut the fabric into ---we should not have to worry about straight grain cuts, especially, too, if some of our patch edges are on the bias!

As for cutting with scissors, usually this is done at the store with long bladed ones, and this gives a good straight cut as the fabric is usually lying on a gridded surface. And as for not wanting your fabric torn, TELL the clerk you don't want this done.

All cottons are not made equal, firmer weaves might take more kindly to being torn, thinner ones, no.
When I get home and find extra fabric I think : generous saleslady; when I get home and find the exact measurement, slanted on the grain, I think : phooey to that store.
My preference: depends on the quality of the cotton and whether I am feeling assertive or not!!


Charlotte S. :
Rotary cut with an added extra inch always gets my vote. I will always give them repeat business.
Ann :
I hate to see it torn as well. Rotary cutting can
be a safety issue when a number of people are working
in the store, and depending on how the counter is set
up. Also I've seen people sit their young children on
the counter and you sure wouldn't want that going on when
there are rotary cutters around! I find that at better
quilt shops they are generous in the measurement, so I'm
happy with any method.
Lydia Coffman :
I used to hate stores that tear materiel. However, I have recently been shopping at one of the "better" fabric stores and was shocked to see them tear the materiel. As I started using it, while also using materiel cut at other stores, I learned that the tears are more true to the selvage, while cuts can be terribly terribly irregular!
Ann K :
Quilting fabric (100% cotton) and most other fabric should definitely be cut with a rotary cutter or scissors. Shops that tear fabric (quite often from the fold NOT the selvedge) have lost my business. I don't go back. This has become one of my personal crusades - and I have actually begun to THANK shop owners for cutting fabric in hope that they don't get the idea of tearing fabric. I am so tired of paying $8 - $9 or more per yard, then having an inch or more on each edge ruined due to distortion from tearing!
Carole :
Anything but torn!!!
Audrey :
rotary cut
netta :
rotary cut
Deb :
I know that most experts prefer it torn, but I find that tearing the material stretches the edge and I end up losing an inch or more of my material!
Carol :
The best way definately is torn if the fabric is untreated 100% cotton. This is the only way to get a true measurement of on grain fabric. If the cut is rotary or scissor cut it probably is not straight and you loose fabric trying to straighten the grain. If it is torn you do loose some to distortion and occasional pulled threads which has to be trimmed as well. All three ways result in some loss. Some people are appalled by seeing and hearing fabric torn. It is probably in the best interests of the store to rotary cut with a straight edge and add an extra inch. It is so much calmer done this way. All the quilt stores in my area do it this way. The chain fabric stores are measuring very precisely and sometimes seem to under cut. Some even charge by the inch at the end of the bolt. It seems so rude. I like the old fashioned way done in the quilt shops of acting generous even if the store is charging an arm and a leg.
ssssg :
snipped at the selvedge and torn
Janice :
I've never been given a choice as to how the fabric is cut. Most of the time it's cut for me with scissors. I have no preference, personally.
Elaine :
With a rotary cutter (which no fabric stores in my area do), also giving an extra inch to allow for shrinkage (which few stores do)
Kim Bennett :
Definately rotary cut. Fabric will fray a little when washed anyway. Why lose more material by risking a tear. Nice clean cut with rotary cutter.
Linda :
Snipped and torn if 100% cotton
Elise :
Personally, I prefer my fabrics snipped at the selvage and torn. I find it keeps the grain better.
Tom Ramby :
I refuse to buy any fabric from a store if they tear the material - Sorry I go else where. Rotary cut for me only.
judy Hamilton :
rotary cut, please!!!!
Sam Hemphill :
Cut with Scissors or rotary cut ---Never torn
Valerie :
Never torn in the store, where an over-enthusiastic shop assistant can yank the fabric off grain. I prefer to tear it myself at home - gently! It's OK if you are buying lots of yardage and can afford to lose an inch or so but I never buy fat quarters if they have been torn since the distortion is so great the whole piece is often completely off grain.
Phyllis F. :
I prefer to have mine snipped at the selvedge and torn!
Carol Odell, [email protected] :
rotary cut
Hilde :
Quilting cotton should not be torn, the fabric gets damaged and you will loose more fabric. Rotary cut shoud do the job, but a good pair of scissors are okay too.
Barbara Cornett :
rotary cut
Jeanne :
I believe that fabric should be torn - you should get a straight edge from torn. I find more waste when rotary cut or scissor cut.
Elena :
It depends upon the fabric. Some fabrics, like velvet, should be torn. When it comes to cotton for quilting, I definetly would object to tearing. I believe the stretching distorts the fabric. Rotary cut is nice, but I'll take scissors as long as they do a decent job with it. I really dislike having to trim off an inch or two just to get an even edge.

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