Lose the Straight-of-Grain!

I’m not straight, and neither is my fabric!

A recent project reminded me why I hated patchwork piecing: my blocks never seemed to turn out right. I always ended up trimming the block to square it, making the block smaller than I wanted.

An often-repeated Rule of Quilting states: Cut Your Patches on the Straight-of-Grain (though Strait-of-Grain was how I viewed it).

That’s great if you have few bias seams.

Consider this quilt block:

Shoo Fly
Shoo Fly

Except for the diagonals in the four corners, all other seams are on the straight-of-grain, or s-o-g for short.

Now consider THIS quilt block:


All internal seams are on the bias (to a greater or lesser extent).

For my last project, I cut all the pieces for this block on the s-o-g. Sewing was a nightmare! For each seam, I carefully sewed two bias edges together. I took pains not to stretch the seam. I carefully pressed the seams to one side.

Then, I trimmed the block to square it,giving me a smaller block. And if that wasn’t enough, the outer edges of the block raveled!

I took a good long look at the way I sewed the block together. I noted the order the patches were sewn as well as which patch was on top of the other.

For my next project, I cut one long edge of each patch on the s-o-g; this patch will be on top when I sew it to another. I pin and stitch the two patches together with the bias edge against the feed dogs of the sewing machine and the s-o-g edge on top.

Consider this quilt block:

Bias-cut block
Bias-cut block

It’s nearly perfect: it is the correct size; I don’t have to trim; and the edges don’t ravel.

I invite you to try this method yourself.

Please leave a comment (link above) if you found this helpful.

4 thoughts on “Lose the Straight-of-Grain!

  1. Hi Raymond,
    If I understand you correctly, now your outside edges of your block are on the bias if the inner long seam is on the s-o-g?

  2. The rule I would have used it to place the longest side … or do exactly what you have done … cut so that you are always, or as often as possible, stitching a straight edge to a bias edge.

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