Contrary to assumptions, not all fabrics are printed on the grainline. To find the true grain of the fabric, the selvedge edge needs to be snipped and torn. The true grainline isn't found simply by rotary cutting the fabric. The torn edge will reveal the exact grainline of the fabric. Refold the fabric and use your rotary cutter and ruler to clean-cut the edge where some of the fibers may have been distorted.
When fabric is printed non-directional, it might not be noticeable if it's printed off the grainline. Stripes and plaids, however, will show if they are true or not.
For the Sunbonnet Sue quilt, I used this fabric to make the sashing strips. The stripe pattern is slightly off-grain. When viewing the 45" of length selvedge-to-selvedge, the print looks straight for several inches, then dips down, and then comes back to the printed line. In order to cut a long strip of fabric that would appear straight, I trimmed up the edge a bit along the print and found a line I could measure off. It takes a bit of tweaking the fabric under the ruler. Cut a few inches then realign the ruler.
The other option for this print would be to insert cornerstones along the sashing. Cut a strip of fabric equal to the length of the block. Then add a square of fabric for the cornerstone. The sashing strips are 2.5 inches wide so cut a 2.5 inch square for the cornerstone. Even if your fabric is printed off-grain, there will be sections along the fabric that will work for this option.
I do like the look of the red cornerstones here but the client's desire is to have a continuous strip of sashing along the diagonal. The strip between the third and fourth row of blocks show this option. It's not as bold and the red binding will pull it all together nicely.
Copyright ©2011, Sharon Baggs