Once you have chosen your project, there are going to be a few things that you will
want to know about your fabric before you begin to cut your pattern pieces.
When you use a standard preprinted pattern, there will be an arrow on the pattern
piece marking the grain line. The grain of the fabric runs lengthwise, parallel to the
selvage edge. You may be able to identify the selvage edge because it is white with the name of the fabric designer printed on it.
To line up the grain, measure from the fold to the arrow line on the pattern piece.
Pin along this line so that the pattern tissue does not shift. Once you’ve pinned
your pattern tissue, the grain will be stabilized.
Grain on Knit Fabrics
If you are working with a pattern designed specifically for knit fabrics, the tissue may have an arrow marking the stretch. This arrow will run perpendicular to the grain.
Cutting on the Bias
Sometimes your pattern will want you to cut a facing or a belting piece on the bias.
The grain line will be marked with an arrow as before, but when you lay it out and
measure from the fold the actual pattern piece will lie on the diagonal of your fabric,
otherwise known as the bias. Cutting your piece on the bias will allow your fabric to
stretch in the way the pattern maker intended.
Finding the Right and Wrong Side
You will need to determine the right side and the wrong side of the fabric. For
cutting purposes, it does not matter if your fabric is folded right side in or right side
Sometimes it is quite easy to tell the right side from the wrong side. When
there is a printed design, the right side will be the brightly colored side and the
wrong side will be plain without printing on it, or much less bright.
On some fabrics, the right side will be less obvious. For example, with a flannel you may need to determine which side is brushed and which side is flat. Sewers have a definite preference on these types of fabric. The brushed side will make your garment
more comfy to wear, so you may want this side inside your finished project. Others
may like the way the brushed side looks and put it on the outside. Whichever you
choose, you need to make sure that you are consistent. It is a good idea to mark all
of the right sides with a loose stitch that is easily removed. A large red “X” can mark
the spot. A simple single knit fabric, usually used for t-shirts, will be the same on
both sides. Be sure that you mark the right side for consistency.
As you become more experienced, you may find that projects will steer you toward
specialty fabrics. Plaid, silk, wool, leather and suede bring their own challenges…but
we’ll get to that later. Stay tuned.