Must Know Fabric Facts

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.

Fabric Grain

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.

Find the Fabric Grain

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.

cut on bias

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
out.

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.

Wrong Side

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.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Nancy August 20, 2012, 2:50 pm

    I just wanted to say, thanks for stopping by my blog & commenting! Your blog is pretty spectacular, so I’m now a new follower! Looking forward to some sewing tips in the future!

    • onceuponasewingmachine August 20, 2012, 6:35 pm

      Thank you! We’re new so thank you for the kind words.

  • Pam August 21, 2012, 6:16 am

    More great tips that those new to sewing need to know!!!

  • Linda Demos April 13, 2014, 3:42 pm

    Thank you for the answer to my “which side of wool is right” quandry. I haven’t worked with wool for almost 3 decades and my mother-in- law ( my sewing mentor ) has been gone for 4 years, her mind for 5…. I now can proceed with the kit I picked up at a sewing expo. When I flattened out the Pendleton wool I found 5 light squares lightly splattered with wine, rust, or blood. I could hand wash it, treat it, lay flat to dry, press, then cut the jacket. I’d rather flip it over and use the other side ( cozy on the inside) and deal with whatever it is later. Thank you!

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