Search This Blog


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Technique Tuesday: Snip and Rip

I've been making a lot of shirred scarves lately.  Last week I shared my favorite serged hem for a sheer scarf, and today I'm going to talk a little bit more about fabric preparation.  

Most people with sewing experience are familiar with the snip and rip technique, but should you be self taught, this is a simple trick for working with wovens.

Lightweight sheer fabrics can be a bit of a beast to cut.  They shift and slide, and no matter how hard you try to get the rotary cutter heading in the right direction, things are bound to happen, and mess up your straight cut.  Ripping your fabric is actually a much easier way to establish a straight cut or edge.  To snip and rip, you will want to snip an inch or two into the fabric, and make sure that your cut is straight, and in line with the grain of the fabric.

Then grip the fabric on either side of the cut, and quickly rip it.  A fast and firm rip has given me the best results. Because a woven fabric has threads that run up and down, and left and right, (warp and weft). When the fabric is ripped quickly, the rip will fall in line with the woven threads, to keep your edge straight and square.

 With some sheers, the fabric along the rip will start to curl in a bit (above).

You can also use this technique with medium weight wovens, like quilting cottons and flannels.  The larger the weave of the fabric, the more difficult it will be to snip and rip.  I recommend it only on light to medium weight wovens.  I love snipping and ripping when I'm making crib sheets, or receiving blankets.  I don't recommend it on small pieces of fabric, such as quilt blocks.  As you rip the fabric, it loosens the weave along the ripped edge.  If you are ripping your fabric, you will want to make sure that your seam allowance is large enough to extend beyond any loosened weave of the ripped edge.

More textured wovens are more difficult to rip.  The fabric above was light weight, but has a textured pattern on it as well.  I had to use more pressure to tear the fabric, which can skew the print of the wovens.  

Ripping fabric can be a bit terrifying at first, but it sure is a big time saver.  A great way to square up your fabric, or rip it into strips or squares.


Ali @craftyWImama said...

I was taught to sew by watching my mom, never formal instruction.
I had no clue this is a real technique, I just thought it was a homegrown short-cut! :)
I use it most when trying to make things that are square - since the cut edges are usually all wonky from being on the bolt crooked, or the crafty store employee not laying it out nicely before cutting.

mamarachael said...

At the last library book sale, I picked up a sewing book on the "Bishop" sewing technique. Its based on cutting your pattern on the grain, and the beginning lessons are all 'torn' projects. I learned to tear fabric to find a straight edge to base your pattern on -- back in high school. but I hadn't thought about using it for blankets (I sew lot of blankets!) I might have to try it!

Rachel said...

Slap to forehead! What a great idea! I thought you could only use this on cotton fabric (don't really know why). I have several slippery fabrics that I have been avoiding using because they are so tricky to cut (I thought it was me being hasty). I am digging them out, but first I think I will read your post about serging the ends. Thanks!

Emily said...

Just tried this for the first time last week. Any tips on what to do if the print was printed crookedly?

Unknown said...

How do I stop the ripped edges from freying.. Or unraveling?

Tricia said...

How about I reply to your comment four years later... I don't have any suggestions. Fabrics that aren't printed on grain are one of my pet peeves.

Tricia said...

If you are working with a woven fabric then a raw edge is bound to fray. If you don't intend on sewing the ripped edge into a seam allowance, and don't want to control fraying, then I wouldn't recommend ripping. Ripping puts more pressure on the threads, and will cause them to unravel near the edge.