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May 14, 2015



When I smocked, the fabric was always ripped to get a straight edge for the top of the piece being smocked. I received some very strange looks when I asked to have my fabric ripped instead of cut when buying at a quilt shop back then.


I am learning so much from this quilt you are making. Thank you.


I rip because I don't seem to achieve SOG using any other recommended methods. I do notice that I get some small runs in some fabrics ... not sure why some and not others.

Darla C

WE have a local shop that tears his fabric. I cringe every time. I haven't had any bad results, but I don't like the frayed edges. I am still alive and you are right, the world did not end. I still make purchases from the shop, so I guess it's not too terrible.

Nancy, Near Philadelphia

I rip selvedges off and like it when shops rip. Ripping really does make a straight edge. I rip long strips for borders, too.


I always rip so that I have a straight edge, if the the ripples do not come out when ironing I simply cut off about 1/4 of an inch. I am not a good cutter so ripping really helps to ensure that borders and bindings are even. I am enjoying seeing the stages of your Crop Circles.


I started ripping from the get-go because I had just shattered my right shoulder when I started quilting and had difficulty using a long ruler for borders. Once at a quilt retreat I silenced the room when I ripped, then everyone gasped. Been doing now for many years and have never had a problem.


I always rip to get a straight edge then rotary cut from there
As a long armer I prefer ripped backing especially with the wide backs they can be off by many inches- not always but I've seen it many times
It is a loud technique, but much faster than cutting, which always makes me wonder why quilt shops don't do it.


My first experience with ripping was in the Quilt in a Day tent in Paducah. It's quick and efficient. I have never ripped my own fabric, but it seems to get the job done.


I've ripped fabric lots of times--especially for backing and sometimes for borders. I had a friend who needed "something" (I can't remember just what it was) done and ripping seemed the easiest option, so I told her she should rip. She couldn't bring herself to do so, so I took it and tore it in about 2 seconds. She stood there, stunned! Just like I'd tore off a bandaid! It was too funny, but once she recovered, she was pleased with the results, too.

Barbara Anne

I've never ripped, but am interested that so many have and with good, quick results. I'll soon need to cut - or rip - borders for a twin quilt, so plan to give ripping a try.

Only one shop keeper ripped my fabric purchases to length and that was a shocker for me. Of course, she also measured yardage by the distance from her nose to her extended hand. Really, the fabric was held in both of her hands while still feeding off of the bolt, and back and forth her extended arm went as the other hand held the other end of the fabric at her nose. It was mesmerizing - and accurate.

Your blog is always a delight in one way or another!



Nicole, nearly fifty years ago while doing Needlework in high school, any fabric bought was ripped. I think in my thirtys they started cutting which was annoying as few could cut straight back then which could leave you short up to four inches. I still rip for home decor items but had not thought about doing it with quilting. Will give it ago now. Thank you.


Ahh, no at least not right now. I'm usually to come around to new (old) trends.

Stephani in N. TX

The notable shop in Houston where I first encountered ripped fabric, no longer does that. RIP. However, My LAQ likes backing fabrics ripped to join in order to have straight of grain. I have also ripped when I needed wide borders that ran 85 inches. But, I do hate ripping in a shop and would likely not go back if they did that. Presentation is worth a lot and that just fractures the glass to me. There are newer ways to cut lots of fabric quickly and most shops pick up on that. One shop even has a 1 yard piece of plexiglass they lay over stacked fabics and zoom, it's cut.

Mary Kastner

It definitely makes a straight grain but it does make me cringe every time. I think it is fine.



No, I don't rip my fabric and no, I don't like it. Might be that the edge is straighter but I prefer my rotary cutter:-)

Jean S.

Good quality fabric will rip straight. It's the cheap stuff full of starch that goes katty-wompis.

I do rip occasionally especially if I'm dealing with a large extra-wide backing.

Tracey Holzer

In Harriet Hargrave's Quilters Academy books, she teaches you to how to do this properly. I did it religiously for a couple years and it works, but it does take more time. I've gotten lazy and away from it, but I'll use it with my next quilt. Have a great day.

Nancy Watkins

I remember the first time someone ripped my fabric too and I was horrified! That was also a shop in Wisconsin, it wouldn't bother me anymore but I do prefer the clean edge. I don't do it myself, though.


I always rip fabric for long borders, backings, and to take selvedges off of yardage. It keeps the straight of grain along those long edges. I am going to jump in with making Crop Circles as soon as I finish my current project.


I attended a quilting weekend with Ricky Tims and he gave us all certificates saying we could rip fabric! I like to rip the yardage for backings or to separate sections of yardage, but I buy extra 1/4 yard at least for that purpose. I do remember a blogfriend who said a shop she went to even ripped fat quarters, which did not please my friend, as the torn edges them had to be cut off with clean cuts for piecing, causing her to have paid for a fat quarter and losing an inch all around.


My first & only experience with ripped fabric yardage was from a new-to-me online shop. I was very upset when I opened the box after being accustomed to beautifully packaged FQS orders. You may recall my complete horror & the kind gifting of more of that fabric line by the actual designer to make it all better. Yeah…Moda is very lucky to have such a truly nice lady working for them now!!


I learned to quilt by taking classes from Harriet Hargrave whose shop is near where I live. She rips all the fabric in her shop and taught us to rip as well. When the fabric is wound on the bolts it usually gets pulled and out of grain. If the fabric is cut off the bolt, when you go to straighten the grain you can lose several inches. What looked like a straight cut of fabric really isn't because it's not along the grain line. Ripping ensures a straight grain and prevents fabric waste. Straightening the grain is one of those little details that makes for a better product in the end. If the grain isn't straightened, your fabric pieces wind up somewhat on the bias and are easy to stretch out of shape.


I understand the concept, but I cringe at the slight runs that happen occasionally.:)


Nicole, sorry, but I need to add one thing to this discussion. When you rip, there is a slight curl and distortion at the ripped line. I usually just press the edge flat, and just piece as usual. No trimming of that edge. I have never found that distorted edge to be more than a quarter inch, so it fits nicely into the seam. I worried one time with a very dark blue and the color distortion that occurred, but it still was less than a quarter inch. I'm a rip lover because, for me at least, it is so much faster.

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