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Sewing on the Bias verses the Straight Grain

Sewing on the Bias verses the Straight Grain 

Sewing Lesson One this week because many of the quilt-alongs and blocks of the month have you cutting triangles and sewing them together along the bias edges.

So, “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.” 

(You will be using high school math for some of this, so tell your children!)

Fabric is woven. The tighter the weave, the higher the thread count. That combined with the fineness of the thread gives you the quality of the fabric. check the difference in thread count and the feel of sheets. 800ct Egyptian cotton is much nicer to touch than 200ct upland cotton.

The finished edges are called the selvage. This runs the length of the fabric on both edges. The thread going from selvedge to selvedge is the weft. This is the “width of fabric” or WOF in many of the pattern directions. Therefore, cutting perpendicular to the selvage, all the way across, is a cut the WOF. Most strips are cut this way. They will stretch a bit.


The thread running the length of the fabric, parallel to the selvedge, is the warp. It stretches very little. Very few patterns mention cutting this direction. Two exceptions: 1) Cut or place on the “straight of grain” means you can place a grain indicator on the pattern or cut along the warp or weft. You must be perpendicular or parallel to the selvedge. The selvedge is considered a straight edge, so line your measuring up to or place your pattern piece based on this edge. This is especially true for garment making.  2) Marti Michelle directions for Log Cabins – since the warp stretches very little, cutting your log cabin strips long ways keeps the blocks from stretching as much or getting really wonky.

So where does “bias” come in? Any cut that is at an angle from the selvedge. These cuts stretch “A LOT!!!!!!” You want some stretch when putting curves together. So, Drunkard’s Path, New York Beauties, Circles, clothing armholes and center seams in pants (through the crotch) end up being cut on a bias. If you cut a square on the straight grain, the diagonal cut will be on the bias and be very stretchy. This is hard to sew on when you don’t need the give for a curve. Solution – sew first and cut afterwards (this will be Lesson Two – next week’s newsletter!).

Sewing tip: When sewing strips together, alternate the direction you start sewing. This will keep them from getting wonky and having your quilt skew to one side.



End of today’s lesson. On to some of the new arrivals this week.

Tree of Life arrived from Dear Stella. A lovely panel and supporting pieces.


Blue Geometric – Marcia Derse/Windham


Aurifil Monthly Quilting Thread Collection – Red Panda


Barn Yoga pattern by Coach House Designs



Don’t forget to send your sweetie in for a gift card for your Valentine’s Day. Or make your sweetie a heart quilt.


Have a wonderful week and enjoy the sunshine when we have it. Find some joy in your day every day.

Phyllis and the QA staff

Quilting Adventures                                                                     Hours: 
6943 Lakeside Avenue                                                                  Tues thru Sat  10 - 4 
Richmond VA  23228                                                                     Sun - Mon  Closed
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