Have you ever owned a piece of clothing that pulled to one side, got longer as the day goes on or just didn’t fit quite right? Chances are it was cut incorrectly. Yes, there is a right and wrong way to cut fabric, and it can make a huge difference to your end product!
The most important part of cutting fabric is to cut it on the correct grain. The grain of the fabric refers to the different directions in which the threads are woven, cross-ways and length-ways. In both woven and knitted fabrics, it is usually advised to cut on the straight grain. When you buy a professionally made pattern, you will see an arrow indicating the direction in which you need to cut the pattern piece.
Designers will cut garments in different ways to utilize the grain to their advantage. For instance, an evening gown cut on the bias grain will give a beautiful drape and hug the body naturally, but cut incorrectly, it can end up with a terrible fit.
See the illustration of grain lines. The straight grain refers to the line running parallel to the fabric selvage. The cross grain refers to the line going horizontally across your fabric, and the bias grain is at a 45 degree angle to the selvage. The selvage of the fabric is the tightly woven edge of the fabric. It is finished in this way along the sides to prevent fraying.
See below examples of patterns you may use and how they should be cut on a straight grain, following the arrow on the pattern, unless otherwise specified.
Certain patterns are shaped in a way that we can strategically place them to save on fabric. It is important to still stick to cutting them all on the same and correct grain. A good way of doing this is called dovetailing. There are instances in which dovetailing should not be done, as it will result in an incorrect looking end product;
Do not dovetail on fabrics that
- Have a nap (fluffy fabrics that have a pile such as suede, velvet, velour and corduroy)
- Have a printed pattern facing in one direction
Now that you know how to cut your fabric correctly, keep an eye out for our next blog post to see how much fabric to purchase for various items often made with our fabrics.