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When do you need to "true up" fabric?

Back in this video about cutting strips using a rotary cutter I showed folks how to “true up” the edge of your fabric. That is – make sure that you’re cutting straight strips with the grain of the fabric.

Loretta asked. . .

This makes sense for when you have a piece of fabric that you might get from the store that has selvedge edges. But what if you are using scrap fabric – like you are cutting up an old shirt or pair of pants to make bean bags? Do you need to make sure that your fabric is true?

Ooooh – good question! It’s really a judgement call and depends on what you’re making.

A good guideline is to ask yourself if the finished thing you’re making is going to hang – on the wall, in a window, on your body, etc. If it’s going to hang, you usually want to make sure you’re working on the straight grain. As it hangs, it stretches, and if it’s not cut on the straight grain it will stretch unevenly. Have you ever had a T-shirt that got all twisty over time? Where the side seams stopped running straight up the sides and instead kind of spiraled around your body? That means the grain was messed up. It can happen with pants too. So annoying!

For stuff that won’t hang it’s not as important. So for most softies and beanbags, most patches for scrap quilts, etc. just cut out your pieces to maximize the fabric you have, or to get the pattern to run in the direction you want.

For really precise pieced quilts (like super-fancy stars and things like that) the pattern will often include cutting instructions and a good pattern will let you know if the direction of the grain is important.

Got any other questions? Send them to me here.

Happy stitching!

Applique Wendi (with fabulous hat)



  1. Thank you Oh Great Voice of Wisdom from the Wilderness! You is smarts!