How to Square Up Fabric Perfectly Every Time

Cutting fabric straight cannot be easier once you learn how to square up fabric! You’ll be mastering this easy peasy technique in no time with this simple tutorial!

How to square up fabric

Easy method that shows you how to square up fabric

Ever wondered how to straighten fabric grain or struggled squaring fabric? Rest assured, you’re not alone! I’ve been living in the dark for ages and never got my fabric as straight as I wanted and needed it to be. Until I learned how to square up fabric just like professionals do through a super easy and simple method.

There are many reasons for why you need to square up the fabric, depending on your project. Fabrics can stretch and become deformed when placed on a bolt, the ends may fray while handling, or the fabric store staff may not cut it perfectly straight when measuring.

This method goes great for all types of fabrics, from upholstery to sheer muslin, as the cutting line becomes quite visible. Squaring up the fabric is important because many times you need to work with the fabric grain and you need to make sure it’s perfectly straight from the very beginning. Many projects may become ruined or look unprofessional if you don’t work with straight edges.

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If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know my mom used to be a professional sewist and that she’s been sewing for over 60 years now (if you’re not, subscribe to my newsletter below). She knows all the tricks and tips the “old school “used to teach sewers back then. But she lacks the patience to teach me and I basically had to teach myself how to sew, instead of taking advantage of her skills and experience.


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So I was always hesitant to ask for advice (and to be honest too proud to) when I had troubles figuring things out, like how to square up fabric. I imagined there should be some sort of technique for cutting fabric on grain to get that perfectly cut fabric result but trying to figure it out myself just didn’t do the trick. So I finally caved in and asked mom how to square up fabric and surprise! She was more than happy to show me! Lesson learned!

Turns out squaring fabric is actually super easy and a lot faster than measuring for thousand times and pinning and eye-balling etc methods I used for too long (feel free to laugh out loud, I know I’m a Muppet!).

Why do you need to square up fabric?

Squaring fabric is as important as a skirt or curtain draping nicely, or a perfectly aligned quilt. If you have trouble with things like these, chance is your fabric was not squared and you didn’t have a straight cut fabric.

Quilts in particular scream for squared fabric. You need to cut narrow strips and small shapes that will never align if the fabric isn’t squared.
The best tool for this particular job is a rotary cutter. Scissors won’t cut just as straight and you may end up taking the process all over again. If you have a super-steady hand and you are sure you can cut very straight lines, you can also try with your scissors.

For understanding how to square up fabric and cutting fabric on grain you need to get familiar with 2 terms, the weft and the warp. The weft runs perpendicularly on the selvage while the warp runs perpendicularly on the weft. Sounds fancy? They truly aren’t lol

squaring fabric

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When you buy it, fabric may already be off-grain, because of the way it was wound on the bolt, the way it was ripped or cut in the shop or it may become off-grain after washing, drying or ironing. Always keep in mind to iron the fabric toward the lengthwise grain, to keep it straight and prevent stretching. Fabric can also become off-grain in the dryer, when one selvage can shrink more than the other.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing you can just cut a perfect square with a ruler and a rotary cutter. This is all about the fabric itself and its anatomy. The threads need to be perpendicular, and just straightening the edges won’t help. Not working with perpendicular threads may result in a distorted and skewed final piece after washing.

If the initial fabric is distorted, gently pull the opposite corners (the bias) to realign the edges more before squaring. This will straighten the piece prior to the final squaring. It is easier to do this while the fabric is not yet completely dry after washing.


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How To Cut Fabric Straight

how to cut fabric straight



  • Squaring and truing fabric means you need to make a cut on the weft and another cut on the warp. You’ll achieve this by simply pulling a line of thread on the weft and then one on the warp.
  • Make a cut on the weft (I fold fabric in half to find the shortest half and use the deepest part of the fabric edge in that short half as a starting point)

cutting fabric straight

cutting fabric on grain

  • Pull the thread all the way through, making sure the thread doesn’t break.

Easy method that shows you how to square up fabric

  • Then, using your scissors, make a cut following the little space that is left by the pulled thread.

  • Move to the other side of the fabric, the selvage. Cut away the selvage, pull a thread and repeat the process.

  • Repeat for all 4 edges and you’ll end up with a perfectly straight piece of fabric.

Is it that easy, you might ask? Well I’m glad you asked because the answer is: you bet! That’s all you need to do for squaring fabric and cutting fabric on grain!

Note: you might end up with serious fabric loss so don’t freak out, be prepared! Most of the ladies at the fabric shops simply rip the fabric when cutting the amount you ask for. The fabric shape is extremely distorted in the process so you’ll end up with less fabric when squaring up. Something to keep in mind when buying fabric so better order more than what your project requires for this specific reason.

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How to square up fabric



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about petro


Hi, I’m Petro, author and founder of Easy Peasy Creative Ideas. Sewist, crafter, avid DIY-er, foodie, photographer, homemaker and mommy to one. I’m an expert at coming up with quick, clever sewing tips, recycling crafts and simple, easy recipes! You can find my ideas featured in reputable publications such as Country Living, Good House Keeping, Yahoo News, WikiHow, Shutterfly, Parade, Brit & Co and more. Thanks for stopping by and hope you’ll stay for a while, get to know me better and come back another time. Stick around for real fun projects! Read more…

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  1. Carol Reinking says:

    This is a great website… Lots of great information!
    Thanks for all of the information…

  2. Carol Guy says:

    Love your new site. I am one of those individuals who cannot cut straight. It is my biggest problem. Your diagrams are excellent showing warp and weft and where to cut fabric for a straight edge. Thank you.

    1. Thanks so much for this lovely comment, Carol! I’m so happy you found my tutorial helpful and informative! xoxo

  3. Phyllis Rogers says:

    That is exactly what us old ladies were taught in “Home economics” back in junior high. You did a great job of explaining it. Essential step when making anything. I am about the same age as your mama. 😃

    1. Thanks, Phyllis, this makes my day! xoxo

  4. Hi, to the materials needed state “fabric of choice” and maybe this site isn’t for beginners like myself, but recently I was trying to find out about cutting fabric straight and for a minute didn’t realize grain actually only refers to woven fabric and not knits at all (which still need to be cut straight). I was thinking if you said “woven fabric of choice” it might help the next true beginner. Great site though. I ended up here looking for a diy tube tuner and so happy I did. Thanks so much!!

    1. Hi, Taylor. Thanks for your suggestion! Glad you found my technique for turning tubes useful!

  5. This worked really well for me when I had to make curtains for our new 4 x 2 m bifold window – eek! I was able to lay my fabric flat on my loft floor and pull the warp and weft threads – result curtains hang great. The window is almost the whole of one wall – so imagine how it would have looked if I’d not been able to square off!

    1. Hi, Lorraine! This is exactly what I did with our curtains too! The entire house, 3 bedrooms, one living room with 3 large windows, the kitchen and the bathrooms! It worked out really well, the fabric was perfectly straight and then sewing it was just a breeze. In fact this tutorial has been inspired by that experience.

  6. Does this work with blackout curtains ?

    1. Hi Janette. You will have to try the method on a piece of scrap fabric first, as all fabrics are different.

  7. Hello, Even though I follow the directions to square the fabric, i get one side square and then fold it the opposit direction so again I cut, this then makes the first side i cut off until finally I have no fabric left and it never did get square, Can you help me with this? Also any type of printed fabric is always off. I desperately need help. Thank You!!!

    1. Hi Terri. Not sure what you’re doing wrong. My only advice is to Work with one edge at a time, no folding needed (I’m guessing this is what throws you off)