Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Mysterious Case of Shrinking Fabric

When it happened the third time in a row, I realized I wasn't going crazy!

I cut the same piece of fabric exactly 3.5 inch square, then matched it up to it's partner and noticed the 1/4 inch discrepancy.

I cut it again, this time paying close attention to the line on which I cut. Matched it up to it's partner and it was still too small.


Maybe the partner piece is too big. Nope. 3.5 inch square.

This time I grab my sweet and patient husband and ask for supervision. Look, I say, I'm cutting exactly 3.5 inches square.

Yes, he agrees.

Still too small. Is this incredibly shrinking fabric?

My husband has a theory that the water in the air (remember, we just moved from Las Vegas to Sacramento) is shrinking the fabric.

I had some sashing cut out for my second Love Quilt and sure enough, most of them are just a scant quarter inch too short to fit the blocks. So I recut them all half an inch larger than I need and will just have to cut down later.

Is this because I don't pre-wash? Do you pre-wash your fat quarters? I don't like the fraying, so I try not to. If I start to pre-wash, will this annoying shrinkage stop?


  1. I no idea why you are cutting and the pieces aren't matching up... but I do prewash all my fabrics with the exception of Charm packs. I just spent a few minutes touring your blog, congrats on the new jobs! I am thrilled to see a younger person quilting, whoohoo to you!

  2. Never heard of strange. I do not prewash...but maybe I should?

  3. I'm a prewasher. I prefer to have the fabric bleed on it's own & want it as shrunken as possible before cutting.

    I can't imagine this being the problem though. Could it be just a slight slip of the ruler? or angle of the rotary cutter?

    1- Putting double stick tape under the ruler, or some other nonslip thing to keep the ruler steady.

    2-Wear a non-slip glove, such as "Machingers" (they are the best!) on the hand holding the ruler.

    3-Spray starch or Spray Size the fabric & iron it well before cutting.It will help stabilize the fabric.

    4- Marry (iron them together) the 2 layers of fabric together before cutting & cut as one unit.

    5-work on a good flat table at a height that you can press downward to cut with your weight rather than muscle.

    Good luck, & thanks for dropping a line on my blog! I too am glad to see the next generation getting in on the act!

  4. Hi!!! I never prewash anything. Are you using the same ruler each time? Are the lines on the ruler thick so that you are lining up on the inside of the line one time and the outside the next time? Do you use steam when you press? It is a mystery. So glad you have a job!!!!

  5. Never heard of this either. I never prewash fabric (except for flannel backing for a quilt - it tends to shrink more than regular cotton). I do use lots of steam when I press the fabric before cutting and I think this shrinks it a bit. Good luck!♥


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