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So this morning I'm ironing and prepping fabric, making sure it is straight (on grain) before cutting, so I have time to ponder - sometimes a dangerous pastime...

Let me preface this by saying that I'm not a hard n' fast stickler for quilt rules.  I tend to fall somewhere in the camp of "I want know what they are and why, so I can decide which ones I follow (or not) on any given project."  I realize there are variables that come into play.  Some things I'm very particular about and some things I'm not.  

That being said, I've noticed more and more on video quilt tutorials and quick-piecing methods where straight of grain (SOG) is just tossed out the window.  I've even heard famous quilt teachers say they don't pay much attention to SOG in their quilts - especially scrap quilts.  Why is that?  

It seems to be a little bit counter-intuitive to what I've been taught.  The only thing I can figure out is that generally we are machine quilting the quilts so heavily that everything is held in place so distortion or sagging doesn't happen.  Do you think our hand-quilting ancestors were concerned about SOG in their blocks/quilts?

What are your thoughts on SOG?  Are you picky about it in your blocks?   

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Comment by Carol Ann Hinton on January 26, 2017 at 3:17pm

Even on very good fabric - the $12.95 quilting cotton (cringe) kind, it is almost never PRINTED on the straight of grain.  If you need motifs in a certain place or you are using a pre-printed panel, you have to fudge a little on SOG.  I usually lightly spray with Mary Ellen's, then press carefully before I cut.  Scrap quilts?  If the piece fits the area, you're good.  Not worth thinking about the grain there.

Nice to hear from you again PQ!  I'll have this year's show quilts up soon - there are four, but none are spectacular, I'm afraid.

Comment by Gae on January 26, 2017 at 2:05pm

I prewash and iron all of my fabric and after that I follow few rules!  I have been sewing for most of my life and I do think about SOG when cutting larger blocks or long strips, but in general I just cut.  Like mentioned in other responses, there are lots of stitches holding quilts together so I don't think it is as critical as we think.  As for our quilting ancestors, especially when making crazy quilts and utility quilts, I don't believe there was an option for SOG. Infrequently I'll have an issue if I should mix a good quality cotton with an inexpensive cotton.  Recently becoming aware of how large my stash is, and how truly appreciated community service quilts are, I plan on just cutting even more so I can use up my fabric and gift many quilts!

Comment by Pam/NY on January 26, 2017 at 1:10pm

I don't follow rules very well (ask my mom) either. I don't prewash, but I do iron. I agree that better quality fabric is straighter and does not bleed. I usually use better fabric, because I do fewer quilts and I want what I want in fabric patterns. With kid quilts, I may use a cheaper fabric because they are washed so much and beat up...which is what we want them to be. 

Ancestors used anything they could to quilt with. New fabric was a rarity. They didn't care about the fuss as long as they could stretch the amount to finish the project.

Comment by Susan Larson on January 26, 2017 at 12:41pm

I'm new to quilting, but not to sewing. I've been sewing, it seems like forever. One of the things I like about quilting, is the freedom when it comes to handling fabric. I've heard some people giving class's say somethings that to me sound really strange. Pressing is one of them. I heard this on a video I was watching a while ago. The instructor said to never press your fabrics because it will ruin the threads and they will never be "fluffy" again. So your post of saying that you were ironing your fabric caught my attention. I iron my fabric too, it just makes sense.

Based on my knowledge of fabric I would think being concerned with SOG would be a judgement call. Depending on where it was used, it seems this would come into play especially with fussy cuts. So far I've only made 5 quilts and haven't run into that problem yet. I would agree that if you quilt a project heavily the grain would pretty much be irrelevant. I'm used to worrying about grain, so the garment hangs correctly, you really don't have to worry about that issue with quilts. LOL

When I began my quilting journey I looked at lot of the "rules", what I found in reading and looking at other peoples work is that there seems to be no rules, or the rules change from quilt to quilt depending on the design and the person sewing it. My background is in computers and it taught me a long time ago that there is always more than one way to do anything. Whatever works for you, within reason, is the right way. I don't like hard and fast rules, it tends to suppress creativity.

Comment by Peggy Stuart on January 26, 2017 at 10:34am
I don't prewash, and I often cut off-grain for effect. I think the only problem is if you put bias on the top as you sew. The top layer tends to move in relation to the bottom layer, so a bias piece can stretch. Once your top is pieced, and all off-grain edges have been fastened down, you can even tie your quilt, and they will be fine.
Comment by Rebecca Sundberg on January 26, 2017 at 10:02am

I have to confess I just sort of eye-ball it - if it looks straight I just go with it. There are so many lines, going in so many different directions in most patchwork quilts that I really don't think it matters unless the fabric is terribly off.  Good quality quilting cottons are pretty good, I think - but cheaper fabrics - more of a risk that the grain could be questionable. For what it's worth, I've never had a quilt finish up with any distortion or sagging, even after they've been used a lot and washed several times.   But then, I also have to confess that I never pre-wash unless it's flannel and then I always pre-wash.  

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