How to Select Fabric

After choosing a pattern, you can pick out fabric. Fabric is sold in rolls called bolts.

To purchase fabric, first select one that suits the pattern style and your sewing skills. Then take the bolt to a cutting table where a clerk will remove the amount you want.


How do you know which fabrics would be best for a garment? Look at the back of the pattern envelope to find suggestions. If denim, poplin, or corduroy is listed, choose one of these or another fabric that's equally firm. If jersey, tricot, or crepe is suggested, choose one of these or a similar soft and drapable fabric.

The pattern also tells what fabrics are not suit able. For example, stripes, plaids, and obvious diagonal prints can look unattractive in certain styles.

Sometimes a pattern is designed only for knit fabrics, which have some stretch. Make sure the knit you consider has the right amount of stretch for the pattern. All "knits only" patterns have a stretch gauge on the pattern envelope. The gauge shows how much the knit must be able to stretch.

Pull the crosswise grain of the fabric with your fingers and compare the amount of stretch to what the pattern specifies. See Fgr. 1.

If the pattern has gathers, grasp the fabric in your hand to see how it drapes. If the pattern has pleats, crease a small section of the fabric between your fingernails to see whether it will hold a pleat.

Check the fabric for any flaws. The color should be even, with no streaks or spots. Any pattern design should be printed on grain. Check for wrinkle resistance by squeezing the fabric in your hand to see whether it wrinkles easily and holds the wrinkles. Read the end of the fabric bolt for information about fibers, finishes, and care requirements.

Fgr. 1 To use the stretch gauge on a pattern, hold a small part of the crosswise grain of the fabric between your hands.

Place the left side at the beginning of the gauge and then stretch the fabric toward the right. As long as the fabric will stretch that far, it's usable with the pattern.

TIP: Fabric color and design. To check for color variations and design direction, fold fabric so that part of it's turned upside down. Stand back and look carefully at the color and design.

Underhanded Uniquizing Effort Sub-Series:

Wiki Sewing

Stitching Options

Every sewing machine has basic stitches, and those stitches should be strong and even.

Upper-end machines also have many built-in decorative stitches. Rather than purchase a machine with a lot of stitch patterns you might not use, ask yourself how you will use those stitches.


Basic utility stitches are the stitches that you're most apt to use every time you sew.

Straight stitches, zigzag stitches, stretch stitches, and blind stitch or other hemming stitches are the most commonly used utility stitches. If you are shopping for a new sewing machine, don't be afraid to ask to see the available options and how or why you would use these stitches. The more you know, the more you'll experiment and become a happy customer- something all local dealers strive for in order to stay in business!


How and where you might actually use decorative stitches requires honest analysis of what you'll be sewing. You can use decorative stitching to embellish or monogram.

Sewing decorative stitches and keeping them aligned evenly from an edge requires you to use guides on the sewing machine.

When using a sewing guide, watch the guide rather than the needle.

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The fabric you choose depends on your sewing expertise. If you're a beginning sewer, choose a fabric that's easy to sew. A medium-weight, firmly woven, or knitted fabric is a good choice.

A small, all-over print helps hide small sewing mistakes.

Certain fabrics require special sewing techniques. The following fabrics are not good choices for beginners:

• Slippery fabrics. Hard to handle as you cut and stitch.

• Loosely woven fabrics. Ravel easily and require special seam finishes.

• Sheer or thick, bulky fabrics. Hard to pin, sew, and press.

• Fabrics with a one-way design. Must have all pattern pieces laid out in the same direction.

• Pile fabrics. Require special pattern layouts and pressing techniques; include velvet and corduroy.

• Stripes and plaids. Must be matched at all seam lines and design points, such as collars, cuffs, and pockets.


A fabric should be right for your appearance and activities. Pick a color and texture that flatter your coloring and body shape. Coordinate the planned garment with items you already own. See Fgr. 2.

Choose a fabric that fits your wearing plans.

For example, suppose a pattern envelope suggests making a dress or shirt in denim. If you're making the garment for a formal event, denim probably won't be a good choice.


Fgr. 2 The pattern envelope suggests fabrics that would be suitable for your project. What other suggestions do you have for choosing a fabric?

The label or hangtag at the end of the fabric bolt tells you the width of the fabric. Most fabrics are 45 inches (115 cm) or 60 inches (150 cm) wide. A few are 36 inches (91.5 cm) wide. The yardage chart on the pattern envelope lists how much fabric you'll need for your size and the view you plan to make.

Don't buy a fabric that's narrower than the ones listed on your pattern envelope. For example, if the chart lists only 45-inch (115-cm) or 60 inch (150-cm) fabric, you don't want a smaller width. Some of the pattern pieces for that style are probably too large to fit on a narrower piece of fabric.

The yardage chart may indicate that fabrics with a nap, pile, shading, or one-way design take extra yardage. Corduroy and velveteen fabrics have a pile, and many knits have shading. With such fabrics, all pattern pieces must be cut so the pile or design runs in the same direction, using a one-way layout. Otherwise the finished garment looks as though it was cut from two different shades of fabric, or part of the fabric's design is upside-down. Stripes, plaids, and other designs may need additional fabric in order to match the fabric design at the seams.

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Friday, 2012-06-01 11:18