Wednesday, March 30, 2011

V1C3 Fabric Preparation

Aligning and Straightening the Material

From McCalls Step by Step Sewing Book. Copyright 1969, p51

Preparing the fabric for your project-- if you are following along, this is on pages 74 and 75.

If you fabric has not been preshrunk, you must prepare it before laying it out and cutting it.  If it is washable, wash and dry it. If it is not washable, have it dry cleaned.   I always wash my fabrics unless they are 100% polyester.   I wash flannel and denim multiple times as they tend to progressively shrink.  Wools --I have them steamed at the drycleaner's although you can preshrink at home with a steam iron.  Silks get drycleaned.  Linens are washed and pressed.   After washing it is necessary to straighten the grain as it could have been stretched on the bolt or stretched off grain in the washing process.  If it is not straightened before it is cut, the garment will be off grain and not hang properly, twisting or sagging.

Natural fibers are generally easier to cut on the true grain than synthetics and are easier to handle and adjust.  Synthetic/natural blends may be need increased time and effort to straighten.  

Find the crosswise grain line.

1. Iron the fabric on the wrong side and remove wrinkles and creases.

2. If your fabric is knit, go to #8.  If you fabric is woven, spread wrong side up on the table.  Snip into the selvedge (lengthwise edge), at a point where a single thread runs the entire width of the fabric.
Step 3, 4

3. Using a pin, snag a crosswise thread from the snipped edge.

4. Pull gently on the thread, easing it along as though you were gathering the fabric, it will look like a bunched up puckered line.

5. If the thread breaks, don't panic!  Just find the point of the break and pick it back up or grab the one next to it.  Continue pulling.

6.  Cut along the pulled thread from one side to the other.  That will be your crosswise grain. 

7. Repeat 1-6 on other side of fabric.

8.  If your fabric is a knit:  Line up an L-shaped square ruler along one crosswise edge of the square with the selvedge edge.
Step 8, 9

9.  With your fabric chalk, mark a line along the crosswise grain perpendicular to the selvedge edge up the side of the L square.

10.  Cut along the chalk line from one side to the other.

11.  Repeat 8-10 on the other side.

How to check the alignment on the crosswise and lengthwise sides.

12.  Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, wrong sides on the outside and match the selvedges.
Step 12 and 13

13.  Place the folded fabric on a rectangular or square table aligning the selvedges against one side of the table and the new crosswise edges against the other.  If the raw edges don't match evenly and the corners don't form a right angle, the fabric is off grain and needs to be straightened.

How to straighten your fabric:

14.  If your fabric is not washable, skip to #16.  Fold the fabric in loose pleats and immerse it for about an hour in a sink with water at the temperature recommended for washing this fabric.  At the end of the soaking period, gently squeeze out the water and lay the fabric out on a flat surface until it is almost dry.  --For best results, do not use your dryer.
Step 14, 15

15.  To straighten the damp material, begin by folding it so the selvedge falls horizontally as shown.  Grasp one corner and a point on the material as far along the diagonally opposite edge as you can reach.  Pull hard.  Repeat by sliding the hand at the corner down to the point of the original fold and again place the other hand as far along the opposite edge as you can reach.  Continue this process until you have stretched the entire piece.

16.  Fold the fabric in half lengthwise with wrong sides facing out and pin together the crosswise edges and the selveges at 5 inch intervals using rustproof pins.  As you pin, smooth the fabric toward the fold with your hands.
Step 16, 17

17.  Using a steam iron, begin to iron at the pinned selvage edges and move toward the fold.  Continue moving in parallel pathes until you have ironed the complete length of the material.

Drawings by Raymond Skibinski 

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