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Get Familiar with Fabric Grain

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An Easy Stretch Test Illustrates Fabric Grain
Testing Fabric Grain

You can see the difference in stretch when a square of fabric is stretched along the lengthwise grain, the crosswise grain and the bias.

© Janet Wickell

Fabric Grain Stretch Test

  1. Cut a small square of cotton fabric with edges parallel to the straight grains.

  2. Tug on the fabric side to side, along one straight grain, then tug from the other direction. Do you feel and see a difference? Did you notice slightly less stretch in one direction? That was the lengthwise grain.

  3. Now tug on the square from corner to corner--along the bias. It probably stretched quite a bit, and if you tugged too hard it may have become permanently distorted.
Becoming accustomed to stretch differences helps you identify lengthwise and crosswise grain in scrap patches with no selvages, like those small squares quilters love to swap!

Experiment with fabric grain. It won't take long until you understand the best ways to place grain in your quilts in order to achieve the results you're looking for.

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