Why to Tear Wide Backs Instead of Cutting

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When fabric is rolled on a bolt, it often goes on crooked. You may have noticed this if you cut strips from your fabric and they form a “V” instead of being nice and straight. Due to the extra width, and being folded an extra time, wide backs are more susceptible to this.

Here is a wide back I received recently. When it’s unrolled it from the bolt, it seems fine, doesn’t it?

But look what happens when I align it so the selvages are even:

That’s almost a 4 inch difference!! By the time the backing was squared up, there might not be enough left for your longarm quilter to load it on the frame.

Tearing allows for straight edges on both sides of the yardage, and those edges will be at a 90 degree angle to the selvages. A square back means I can quilt your top without pleats or puckers on the back – something that will make both of us happy!

5 thoughts on “Why to Tear Wide Backs Instead of Cutting

  1. AHA! So that’s why my strips get V’s in them sometimes. Thank you for sharing that information — I never knew that, and it’s been driving me crazy. I thought I was wobbling the ruler when I was rotary cutting. Take care, Dianne B. in England

  2. Glad you found it helpful Dianne. To avoid the “V” when working with regular width yardage, I like to press the fabric to remove the fold that’s formed when the fabric is doubled on the bolt. Then re-fold, lining up the selvages so the two layers of fabric lay smooth and flat with no puckers. The cut edges will probably NOT be even – don’t worry about that, you will trim them off so they are even and perpendicular to the selvages. Now you can start cutting your strips and they should be straight. Good luck!


  3. This has nothing to do with this particular post but I see you have 2 longarms. I am looking at upgrading to a bigger,better machine and wondered if you have a favorite out of the 2 you have or which features you like about each brand. If you have a minute (you look as though you are kept busy!) I’d really appreciate your thoughts on this.
    Thanks in advance, Rowena

    • Choosing a longarm is like buying a vehicle – a sports car, a pickup truck and a mini van will each get you to the mall and back, it just depends on your preferences and what features are important to you. As a driver, do you prefer a sporty look, good gas mileage, fancy stereo system, ability to haul furniture, comfortable ride for passengers, etc.

      Longarm quilting machines are much the same. They all basically do the same thing, the needle goes up and down while you push it around on a track system. Pretty simple, huh?? LOL The rest is basically bells and whistles.

      If you already have a machine, you have the advantage of knowing which things you like about your current brand and which ones you wish were different. Write those things down, then if possible go to one of the major LA shows and try all the brands you’re considering. Ask lots of questions. Will there be a dealer nearby if you need assistance?

      I like each of my machines for different things. I’ve tried other brands that are well known and have a great reputation, but I knew that there was no way I could work on that machine for hours every day. Other people do it though. What I’m trying to say is there is no one ‘perfect’ machine out there, each person has to find the one that is right for them.

      Good luck in your quest!

  4. Mini-van or sportscar – that is a great analogy. I also wondered about your studio setup. I saw the Twirling Water digitized pattern on one of your web-pages and then saw the IQ setup on top of your A1. I started with 2 APQS (1 at a time) and when I was ready for a new machine, I bought a Gammill with a 30″ throat. I am almost 6 feet tall so I can reach (and use) that big throat and move that heavy machine head. With quilting machines, I think that you have to drive it and see how it fits you.

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