Going back to school for pattern making has been challenging and the most wonderful thing I have done as a sewist. Before school I would have said I knew plenty in sewing. At least enough to make wearable clothing for myself. I learned the basics of sewing through family and home economics class but as far as sewing garments I was self taught. Blogs and Youtube videos taught me. What made me decide to go to school was I got to the point where I was curious about pattern making and wanted to make patterns. I thought it would be enough to purchase a book in pattern making and teach myself. Learned the A, B, C’s of pattern making but I couldn’t just take any picture and confidently make a pattern for that look. I had too many questions that I couldn’t find the answers to in a book or google search. So I decided to go back to school and do something I really wanted to do.
In just a few weeks of attending school I felt like I knew very little about sewing. I realized I was doing some things wrong. The only way I can describe it was that I felt like a guppy in a huge ocean trying to find its way to the other side of the world. Because I was so hungry for knowledge I began to be obsessed over the “why’s”. I wanted to know why is done this way and not this other way. Every time I would find out the WHY it was a light bulb moment for me.
KEEP IN MIND: I want to remind you that there are no “Rules” in sewing. Everyone who sews as a hobby should enjoy the process and learn as they go. There shouldn’t be pressure that THIS has to be done in a certain way in order to accomplish a wearable garment for yourself. You can do whatever you want to the clothes YOU wear. This post is made for the purpose of me sharing things I have learned while going to school and being mentored by professionals that have improved my sewing. I feel confident that this will have a HUGE effect in your sewing.
Questions ran though my head like, does anyone else know this? Why isn’t this discussed more? Through all this learning I ended up realizing there are things we should be checking, doing, shouldn’t be skipping, and never disregard when sewing. So let me tell you the things I feel every sewist should be doing and WHY.
1. CHECKING TO SEE IF YOUR FABRIC IS “ON GRAIN”
I remember seeing this topic once in an article about how to block fabric. But thought I would only apply this in severe cases where I can visually see that the fabrics grain lines were off. NOPE you should always check the gain lines on every fabric you sew with. BEFORE you cut your patterns out. This is mainly done with wovens but you should also be checking to see if the knit fabric you are using is in good condition.
Checking to see if your fabric is “on grain” means checking to see if the fabric’s crosswise grain is perpendicular to the lengthwise grain. If not, you correct it and you SHOULD correct it.
ANY fabric has a chance to be off grain for any reason. It doesn’t mean that its bad quality. Gravity has a major factor to this. If the fabric is stored vertically chances of it being off grain is high. Thats why you will see in big industry fabric companies store their bolts of fabric parallel to the floor to help prevent the collapse of grains.
How to check it and how to correct it can be found in my “Do you Block your fabric” blog post. I wrote a whole blog post on this subject in detail HERE
WHY SHOULD I BE CHECKING THE GRAINS OF MY FABRIC?
The reason why is because your garment will warp, stretch out, or even give a false drag line that will make you think it’s a fit issue.
Every grain line has a different behavior. Lengthwise grain is stable has little to no give. Lots of structure. Cross wise grain has slightly more give than the lengthwise grain, and will give more body to the garment. The Bias which will have the most give, will give the most stretch.
When the crossgrain is not perpendicular to the lengthwise grain this will make the cut of the garment fall on the bias. We all know what happens when a garment is cut on the bias. It stretches or collapses.
The following are probably guesses that many people will think of if they have not blocked their fabric and saw warps in their garment.
- I have stretched it during sewing. You will assume that somehow you had stretched out the garment during sewing.
- I have cut the wrong size in pattern. This will definitely be very obvious in the lightweight silky fabrics since any cut on the bias will stretch out so easily. Hence the reason why people say stay stitch neckline as soon as you cut.
- I have a fit issue. Warping in the fabric after you cut can possibly give you a false drag line or false indications of a fit issue.
- I have poor quality fabric. This is probably the most common assumption when you see something wrong on the fabric. You will assume that the fabric you chose was not good quality because within just a few wears it’s already warping.
I wanted to share this tip that was taught to me by a professional pattern maker Shilo Byrd. Her portfolio is linked here. This tip is probably not really related to this blog post. The reason why I wanted to share these pictures, is because it will show you what a difference grain line behavior has on fabric. Hopefully it can put some perspective on how important paying attention to grain line can be.
I was taught that if you have a piece of fabric where you can’t tell which is lengthwise grain and crosswise grain is (possibly because you have a scrap with no selvage), go ahead and do a soft fold in each direction.
1.Lengthwise grain since its more structured and less give it will produce less volume.
2. Crosswise grain has a little more give which will produce more body. More volume.
Picture on the left is straight wise grain, picture on the right is the crosswise grain.
Thank you guys so much for reading and since there are several tips I want to share on this subject of things we should be checking in sewing. I decided to break it up into parts. Each blog post focusing on that tip. Part 2 : Measuring pattern pieces will be next!
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