Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tarn: Allover-Print Fabric Cutting

If you're making tarn (t-shirt yarn) from cotton-knit fabric with an allover print, then you'll need a special cutting technique, which will let the print show in your tarn. When tarn is cut “across the grain," or horizontally across the t-shirt, its edges curl upward and inward, so that the wrong side of the fabric is mostly visible in the tarn. When cut "with the grain," or vertically on the t-shirt, tarn’s edges curl downward and inward, so that the right side of the fabric is mostly visible.

With printed t-shirt fabric, you can use a zig-zag cut, consisting of vertical cuts that allow the tarn to curl so the print shows. It works especially well with rugs, like the Tarnation Rectangle Rug. This is not a perfect solution, because the corners don't curl. Also it is much more time-consuming than other cutting techniques. But the results are often worth it.

Here's how to do it:

1. Cut off the t-shirt hem, seams (if any), and top. Save the scraps for stuffing toys, etc.

2. Make a straight cut from the bottom up to 1/2" (1cm) from the upper edge.

3. At the top edge, move over 1/2" (1cm) and make a straight cut from the top down to 1/2" (1cm) from the lower edge.

4. At the bottom edge, move over 1/2" (1cm) and make a straight cut from the bottom up to 1/2" (1cm) from the upper edge

5. Repeat steps 3-4 until you run out of fabric. (see picture)

6. With your scissors, round off all of the corners.

7. Taper the ends if you'll be using the hand-stitch method of connecting your tarn strips. (see Step 7 in How to Make Tarn)

8. Trim the seams/sleeve hems/collar off the remaining t-shirt fabric, and repeat steps 2-7 for each piece. You don't have to start with a rectangular shape--just be sure your cuts are running generally "with the grain," and not across.

Tarn produced in this way will curl inward towards the wrong side of the fabric, leaving the print side showing. The curved corner flaps don't curl, and they will be worked in as you crochet or knit. Sometimes a flap will end up on the surface of your work, but since it has the same print as the surrounding stitches, it usually blends in--not noticeable if you're standing on a rug. You can see some flaps in the photo below. The gray and tan sections of the rug were made with printed tarn.

You can find more tips for the Tarnation Rectangle Rug  and Tarnation Oval Rug in the following posts:
How to Make Tarn
Choosing Fabric for Tarn
Saving Your Hands and Arms When Using Tarn
Making the Print Show
Mending a Tarn Rug

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