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Tools & Materials : Fabric Folding

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Recently I was asked how I cut perfect squares and rectangles from my quilt fabric. The secret, for me, is how I prep and fold it. This is the way my mom taught me, and by no means the only way, but I thought I'd share it in case you find a few tips to incorporate in organizing your fabric stash.

First, wash your fabric with a color fixative, such as Retayne. Dry on high heat, then cut off all the loose thread garbage that ends up on the raw edges. Your fabric is now colorfast and preshrunk.

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Stand up, and hold the fabric, meeting the two selvage edges (the finished edges; in quilt fabric, it's usually printed with the manufacturer and designer's names), creating a lengthwise fold down the middle. Shift the fabric left to right until the fabric hangs straight. Here I demonstrate with one yard of fabric:

right

right

wrong!

wrong!

Note: Depending on how the fabric was cut from the bolt, your raw edges may not line up. This is common and okay, as long as the fabric hangs straight from the selvages.

Follow the gallery below to see how I fold, stack, and finally, cut the fabric.

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Lay the once-folded fabric down on a flat surface, such as a clean floor.

1 Lay the once-folded fabric down on a flat surface, such as a clean floor.

Fold fabric in half again lengthwise, matching fold to selvages.

2 Fold fabric in half again lengthwise, matching fold to selvages.

Fold lengthwise one more time (a cat's help may or may not be required for this).

3 Fold lengthwise one more time (a cat's help may or may not be required for this).

NOW fold in half along the length, as many times as you need to create a neat package to fit in your storage...

4 NOW fold in half along the length, as many times as you need to create a neat package to fit in your storage...

For one yard of fabric, I had to fold twice.

5 For one yard of fabric, I had to fold twice.

The fabric now stacks neatly in my Ikea cubby (designated

6 The fabric now stacks neatly in my Ikea cubby (designated "greens & yellows").

When you're ready to cut, simply unfold along the length only. Cut off all that crap at the end.

7 When you're ready to cut, simply unfold along the length only. Cut off all that crap at the end.

Say I wanted perfect 4

8 Say I wanted perfect 4" squares: I can line up my ruler 4 inches from the neat cut end, and cut a strip.

I can spread out this strip, cut off the selvage, and cut my 4

9 I can spread out this strip, cut off the selvage, and cut my 4" squares all the way down the strip.

You can actually cut multiple strips, then

10 You can actually cut multiple strips, then "stack and whack" them, cutting many squares at once.

You may want to feed or otherwise distract the pets first. Libby was quite annoyed that I spent so much time on this.

11 You may want to feed or otherwise distract the pets first. Libby was quite annoyed that I spent so much time on this.

How do you store your fabric at home?

Comments (4)

  • Right now I store my fabric all mushed up in a big market bag. Requires TONS of ironing before I can work with it. Thanks for sharing your tips—I definitely want to invest in a cutting mat and rotary cutter for fabric.

  • I see you have the Gingher rotary cutter there. I really like mine. How about you?

  • Gosh that sounds like a good idea! Never heard of Retayne. At this point the thought of going back through everything in my studio seems pretty daunting. hmmmm... Here's how I store the 'smaller' pieces of fabric http://jenduncan.typepad.com/whats_new/2009/03/fill-another-cabinet-check.html I have to tell you I worry all the time about sun exposure but I just love seeing it all. :-) I store the larger pieces and tubs of scraps in the IKEA Expedit storage system I got last month (Love it!) http://jenduncan.typepad.com/whats_new/2010/09/sept-28.html
    Thanks for the great ideas!

  • I have a walk in craft closet. For larger cuts of fabric, I fold them neatly over plastic hangers and hang them on the closet bar. Then I place a large sheet of plastic over the bar, covering the fabric, so it will not get dusty. For large pieces of fleece, I fold and store in large, clear plastic bins. The smaller pieces of fabric, I store in clear "Shoebox Size" boxes. This way, none of the fabric is exposed to daylight/sunshine.

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