Help Please: Fabric – to cut, or snip and tear?

by Leah Taylor on August 27, 2010

When cutting fabric for customers it is really important to me that it is cut straight, so that the customer gets the full yardage they paid for, on both ends.

I keep changing my mind as to whether it is best to cut fabric with scissors; or to snip and tear?

The pros of cutting with scissors is that the line is neat. The disadvantage, however, is that it is very difficult to cut in a completely straight line! As a result I almost always cut a spare 5-10cm minimum, to allow for a curving line.

The pros of snipping and tearing fabric is that the line will be neat and across the grain. However, I always wonder if some customers might have a problem with this technique, as the finish doesn’t look as neat, and on some fabrics e.g. jerseys it causes the edge of the fabric to roll.

What do you prefer when you buy fabric? To have been cut by scissors, or by tearing? Does it depend on the type of fabric e.g. cotton / jerseys?

Your feedback will be much appreciated – thank you!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah August 27, 2010 at 8:06 am

Personally I prefer cutting, our local John Lewis tear and I don’t like it! My local patchwork fabric shop has a huge table and uses a rotary cutter and a meter rule, that’s really precise! Would that be an option for you?


Emily August 27, 2010 at 8:14 am

It totally depends on the type of fabric – cottons, organzas and anything that rips well cut & rip. Jerseys, things with stretch, cord, lace – cut it!


Mary August 27, 2010 at 3:32 pm

I always use a rotary cutter and rule. It’s quicker, more accurate, neater and less wasteful. Then their are the fabrics that are better ripped because of the fraying. Best to sample your fabrics first then you will instictively know what to do.


claire August 30, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I cut..but considering using rotary and rule..although I am not a confident rotary user (strange I know but we don’t get on!!)
I over estimate in case of unstraight cutting – good for customer but not so for me I guess…..
I personally don’t like the ripping thing when I buy so I doubt I will ever rip unless asked to!!!


Brumby September 11, 2010 at 11:12 pm

I am weighing in late on this debate I know but ALWAYS prefer ripping for woven fabrics.

It guarantees that I get the amount I have paid for as you are tearing along the weft threads. It also gives me a good gauge of the quality of the fabric immediately.

One of the chain stores here refuse to tear their fabrics, I once bought a denim from them that was 4 inches off grain and unable to be pulled back on grain, it was a virtual write off for what I wanted it for.

When I get my fabrics home I always tear them first, overlock the raw edge and wash them, and then start my project. I have lost up to 20cm because it has not being cut straight, frustrating!

If a fabric is torn when I bought it, I immediately have a greater level of trust that the store is confident in what they are selling.


Leah September 19, 2010 at 6:46 pm

i think ikea have the best method (not the cutting it yourself bit) but the cutting grove in the table means that you can line the fabric up with the ruler, weigh the fabric down (usually with my handbag and some other bits from my trolley) and then just cut along the groove. its the only place I’ve always got a good result from (probably helped by the fact that I’m cutting it and I’m always super careful)
Now if they could just get some sharp scissors it would be perfect!


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