Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ripping Cotton Tutorial - An Alternative to Traditional Fabric Cutting Methods

When my friend BINGO told me about this technique of ripping cotton instead of cutting it, I was a bit apprehensive.  Ripping fabric?  But we're not supposed to RIP fabric on purpose, right?  I learned to cut fabric very very carefully.  It takes forever!

Ripping Cotton is a technique that is used on cotton quilting fabric.  I have ripped cotton many times it to make curtains and tiered skirts.  This is the easiest, simplest sewing tip and it will save you a ton of time!  Remember, it only works as a substitute for long, straight cuts in fabric that go all the way across the width of the fabric, from selvage (factory finished fabric edge) to selvage.

Begin by making sure the top and bottom of your fabric is even.  I love the fabric store clerks, but they rarely give me a perfectly even cut.  Look at the fabric.  Fold it in half, if needed, and determine which side, right or left, is longer.  Measure down about an inch or so from the top of the longest side, and clip straight across the grain into the selvage edge about an inch or less.  The initial cut should be horizontal, going completely through the selvage and into the fabric a bit, as shown.  

NOTE: This measurement of 30 inches is the length I needed to rip my Kitchen Curtains.  I am showing this photo to demonstrate how far to cut across selvage.  Do this same thing at the VERY TOP of your fabric on the longest side, about an inch or so from the top of the longest side, not 30 inches down. Hope that isn't too confusing.

Follow ripping technique below described below.  Repeat ripping technique at the bottom of your fabric.  Find the longest side, clip, and rip about an inch or so from the bottom of the longest side.

Now your fabric is (almost) a perfect square or rectangle. 

Once the top and the bottom are evened out, measure the length of fabric that you want to rip.  Start at the top and measure down.

I needed a length of 30 inches for my kitchen curtains.  I measured 30 inches down from the top, and cut a clip horizontally, straight across the grain of the fabric through the selvage and into the very edge of the fabric as shown in the photo below.

Ready for the fun part?  Hold the fabric firmly in your hands and begin ripping it. 


 Continue ripping straight across the fabric.  Your rip will be straight as it follows the weave of the fabric.  You don't have to  use a measuring tape to check and see if it ripped straight.  It will.  I am showing the tape in the photo so that you can see that we start and finish with a 30 inch length of fabric.  Perfect rip!


This is SO MUCH FASTER than cutting with traditional scissors.  The rip is perfectly straight!  For me, ripping cotton is an AMAZING stress reliever too!!


I hope you try the Ripping Cotton technique.  I'd love to hear all about it.  Happy sewing! 

This post is shared at:

Cutesy Crafts: An Oldie but a Goodie #13

Sew Crafty Angel:  Weekend Blog Link Party #5 


  1. The very first quilting show I saw was Eleanor Burns. She merrily ripped her cloth to start cutting straight on the grain, and then of course tossed the scraps over her shoulder. I thought she was crazy, but I tried the ripping method. It does find the straight of grain but it also stretches the cloth on the edge so there is at least 1/2 inch of waste there. Most of the time when it's not critical, I just line up against the fold, but if I really need the grain straight, I rip it.

  2. Hi, I am stopping by from the Sew Crafty Link Party. I love ripping the material and so do my granddaughters. I was ripping up a sheet to make a rag rug. My girls took turns grabbing a piece and pulling. They finished the whole sheet so fast and were bummed when there was no more to do. LOL

  3. I love ripping. I'm like Darlene, it's fun and my kids love it.

  4. I have always been soooooo afraid to do it!

    And I'm cracking up because I HATE the smell of juniper berries and I can't believe they're in your header!!

  5. Such a really nice and great informative post and It's really helpful with us for fabric!!
    Fabric Warehouse


Your comments are important. Thanks for your input!