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We cannot emphasize strongly enough how vital the correct grain is to the final appearance of your garment. Your fabric is on grain when crosswise and lengthwise threads or loops are at perfect right angles to each other.
If the fabric is only slightly off grain, it can be straightened by steam-pressing the threads into proper alignment. To do this, fold the fabric right sides together, and then pin together every 5” (13 cm) along the selvages and ends. You may need to pin the fabric to the ironing board to keep it square. This is where an ironing board cover, printed with a grid, comes in handy. Press firmly, stroking from the selvages toward the fold.
If your fabric is very off-grain, it can be straightened by pulling the fabric gently but firmly in the opposite direction from the way the ends slant until a perfect right angle corner is formed. If fabric is washable, place it in warm water for a few minutes to help relax the finish before pulling the fabric ends. Then pin a selvage to a taut clothesline every few inches or lay on a flat surface and allow to dry. Repeat if necessary.
In some instances, you may have to try a combination of these techniques for the best results.
Note that permanent finish fabrics cannot be straightened. It is perfectly all right to use them as they are, matching and pinning the selvage only, not the ends.
Some printed fabrics may not be off grain but the print design does not coincide with the grain-line. These fabrics should be avoided. If you must use them, you must allow the print design to dictate the layout, not the grain.
Many fabrics on today’s market may not require preshrinking. Always read the label on the fabric bolt to determine the specifics on shrinkage and the suggested care for the fabric.
If the manufacturer has not shrunk the fabric, or if it will shrink more than one percent according to the label, you must shrink your fabric before you cut it.
If you are unsure, it is always safer to preshrink your fabric rather than discover a shrinkage problem after your garment is completed.
Washing or dry cleaning can also help to remove resins used for finishing some knitted or woven fabrics that could cause skipped stitches.
For washable fabrics, you can launder and dry the fabric following the same methods you will use on the finished garment.
Another method is to fold the fabric evenly and immerse in hot water for thirty minutes to one hour. Gently squeeze out the water and dry according to the fabric care instructions.
Dry cleanable fabrics should be shrunk by a professional dry cleaner, if possible.
Identify the Right Side of the Fabric
Occasionally the right side of the fabric is not readily discernible from the wrong. The way the fabric is displayed on the bolt is an excellent clue in distinguishing the right and wrong sides.
You will find that certain fabrics are usually wound on the bolt in a consistent manner. For example, cottons and linens are almost always folded in half with their right sides out, and then placed on the bolt.
Delicate, easily marked fabrics are rolled or folded on the bolts with their right side on the inside as protection against damage.
If you have purchased a fabric as a remnant or have forgotten which side is which, try these procedures.
If you still can’t figure out the right side, pick the one you like the best! There is no reason that you cannot use either side of many fabrics. Just be very certain to use the same side consistently when laying out your pattern. Before you remove the pattern from your fabric, you might want to mark your pieces so you know which is the right side. If you neglect to do so, the slightest variation in shading can destroy the good looks of your garment.
For your next step, sort all your pattern pieces, selecting those for the view you have chosen.
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Saturday, 2009-03-28 13:18 PST