Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Bolt

Am I the only one who's noticed that a bolt of fabric that used to measure 42"-44" wide no longer measures that? Or I am simply the last one to know about it? I was adding borders to a quilt today and needed to cut a few more strips. I looked at that piece of fabric laying there on the table and thought, gee, that looks short. Well, dang, it was short! After I cut off the selvages, I've got a little more than 38" of fabric to work with!

Was it shrinkage? Could be, but 3 or more inches across the width of the bolt? Things always seem to shrink in the length, not the width. So I took out a couple more pieces of fabric I'd bought very recently and measured those. Less selvages, they both measured 41" wide. Okay, that's better but still a little skimpy.

When I was a kid, my mother used to buy canned food--vegetables and whatnot-- in a 16-ounce can. Now you buy those same products in cans that are 14-1/2 or 15 ounces. I did find one can in my cupboard that was 16 ounces, a can of refried beans. Actually, I think the can is the same size, and the manufacturers are putting less food in the can and charging the same price. I'd guess the same thing happens nowadays with cereal and lots of other things.

All my recipes still call for a 16-ounce can of whatever, but I haven't bought a new cookbook in a while. Most of my older patterns base yardage estimates on fabric that is 42"-44" wide; but I looked in a new McCall's quilting magazine, and they based the estimates on fabric 40" wide. Okay, so maybe I haven't been paying attention. What's the moral of the story? I don't know, pay attention, I guess!

5 comments:

Pat said...

Did you notice that the ice cream carton has shrunk from 2L to 1.5L?

and I noticed that my 3 yards of fabric were short about 4 inches after washing! needless to say, my fq's are a little short for my gifting :)

Barb D said...

I have noticed that as well - I find that sewing 2 or 3 strips of fabrics together (each a different manufacturer) can sometimes have a difference of up to 3 inches!! Most of the quilt design software defaults to 42 as well.

Lori in South Dakota said...

it's not just fabric, I was reading about peanut butter jars and other items "shrinking" an ounce or two. Don't raise the price, just make it smaller.

Beth said...

When I learned to sew back in the Dark Ages, patterns gave the required amounts for 36", 45", and 54" widths. Maybe we are going back to that 36" width. I'm sure they have not changed the size of the looms the cloth is woven on. Hmmm, maybe it's metric...

Alex said...
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