Getting to know fabric


Hi folks, it’s Laura from SewVeryEasy here. I want to talk to you a little bit about fabric and some terminology to do with fabric. And I’m just talking some basic stuff today. Fabric comes in three main categories. You have a knit. This is a knit. It’s like a t-shirt fabric. It has a stretch to it, and it is exactly how it sounds. Looks like someone’s knitted on tiny little knitting needles with a little, little thread. Sometimes they’ll even unravel like knitting. It comes in two ways. It comes flat or it comes in a tube. That’s a knit fabric. Then you have sort of fabric that is a wool or like a fleece. They are almost glued together so there is no knitting or weaving to it. Then you have a weave fabric. Weave comes in two different kinds of fabric but it’s still considered a woven fabric. Here’s a woven fabric. This woven fabric is actually woven with the different color threads. This one they only use two colored threads and as you can see here you have your white threads and your black threads. So this was actually woven with the threads so the colors are already in there. They pretty much look the same on both sides. That’s a woven fabric. Another woven fabric you have is actually woven fabric that starts off with a basic white color or some kind of a light color, and then from there the pictures are actually silk-screened on. So it starts with your one color, goes through a conveyer belt, and gets printed. When you buy your fabric, you buy it by the length, not the width. This is the width. It’s already predetermined for you because they’ve already made it that way. You can choose the length; you can’t choose the width. The length is as long as you want it—10″, 20″, 200″—so you have length and width, that is all fabric. Then you have a bias. Bias is a full, true 45° angle. If you take your corner and fold it up, that is a true bias. All fabrics have this. They also have things like nap, directional fabric, but I’m just going to talk about these basic things today. How can you tell if you’ve already cut a piece of fabric out and it’s an all-over pattern and you don’t know the direction, this is how: Take an edge and pull on it. This is the length because it does not move. It does not want to give. It’s the strongest part of the fabric. The width is this one. The width is the cut edge. It will stretch slightly. Now a 45°, well you can see that that’s a 45° angle. It will stretch a lot. This is a cotton fabric. This is not a stretch knit but it will stretch. So if you already have your piece cut, if you just pull it slightly, one direction will pull very little, one will pull a little bit more, and then one edge or the center will pull a lot more. That’s how you’ll be able to tell your differences on the grains of your fabric. Understanding fabric. Fabric companies usually, and not always, give you a whole book of information right here on the selvage, which is awesome. Company name, fabric name, all of that kind of stuff. But the bonus is they give you these color dots. These color dots are great because it’ll tell you the colors in the fabric. This one happens to have twelve colors in it. And the other thing, not only do you know how many colors you have, these are the actual colors that are in the cloth. So if you’re looking for example at this purple, you won’t know how many color purples are in here or what shades of purple, because your eye’s not going to be able to pick out every individual little color; just generally looks at it and that’s what it sees. So if you look at the edge, it sort of gives you a clearer view of what colors you have. Now saying that, you can always just cut that piece off so you’ll end up with something like this that has all your dots and your information on it. You can bring that to the store if you want to match up the fabric, which is kind of little bit easier carrying in your purse. But the other thing you can do is you can actually match up your fabric with the same company, the same name. For example, this fabric here is called Happy Flowers. It came with these different fabrics. These fabrics are coordinates. So it doesn’t matter what I use, I know they’re going to match. But like I said, if you’re not going to want to match them and you want to match your own, if you can’t bring the fabric, use the selvage. Now on the selvage it’s going to give you some more information. Here is one that there’s only one color. Even though you see two, there’s only one. The reason is, don’t forget, it starts with one color fabric then it’s printed on. So that is one color and it’s a red. The other thing that will come on the edge of fabrics are little arrows or little marks. There’s a little mark there, if you can see that, it’s just a little tick mark and if you go there’s another little tick mark. Sometimes it comes in a little bullet form here. You can see it’s a little bullet form. Those are repeat marks. Now all fabric has a repeat. Some are more obvious than others and some you really don’t even see because the repeats are almost non-existent. This here had a very large repeat, but don’t be fooled. That was not the only other repeat. There were two other repeats in this fabric. However, they’re usually equally spaced if you want to do some math or fold it to figure it out. So that’s some information you’re going to get from the selvage. Now saying that about the selvage, do 𝙣𝙤𝙩 sew with the selvage! Oh, it’s tempting. I know it’s tempting because I’d like sewing with it. It would be nice, it’s already finished. But the way it’s constructed, if you look really, really close at the selvage edge, you’re going to see that it has a different weave, almost like different fabric. And you’ll see it has little dots or little holes in it. So what’s happened is when they make it, it’s on this long table and they have all these pins that actually hold the fabric so that the threads can be woven back and forth, up and down, in and out. And if they can’t hold it really hard then it’s going to rip. So that’s actually woven really really tight so that it can hold the fabric. Saying that, the fabric will react different in washing. It will shrink different. It will shrink more. The reason is because there’s more threads per inch. Cut it off. Very seldom will it not give you grief. You will be able to see, if you look really close, you’re going to be able to see that the threads change. When the threads change—in this case it happens to be right where the picture starts—that’s where your selvage ends, so cut it off. You can use it for many other things. It’s very strong. You can use it to tie up things, you can use it for a lot more, because it is very strong. It does not want to rip. It is very, very strong. Perfect one to use for other things. I wouldn’t recommend putting it in quilting because when it’s washed it will shrink a little bit different. Even the back of the quilt, if we have to join pieces, cut it off because after it’s washed, you’ve quilted it, you’ve done all this, you’ve washed it, it actually could shrink a little bit more so it looks like puckering, all the way down where the seam is. So really it’s not recommended that you use it. Now some fabric—batiq is really good for this and I love batiqs—but you can’t tell the front from the back. Now there are ways of telling. Three ways. If you run your hand along it, you will be able to feel a texture because the front of the fabric is where they put all the extra ink so you can feel it different than what the back side is. The second way: You can hold it up to light. You will actually be able to see the ink in light so you’ll know what side is the other side. The third way: Colors are put on in layers so the last color on the quilt will show the least on the wrong side. So if you try to find the very top color, which is usually just a very light sort of accent color, you will be able to pick up tha, take your finger, hold it there, flip over, see if you can find it on the other side. If you don’t find it on the other side, you know that is the right side. Saying that, you can use whatever side you want. Fabric starts off with the same and then it’s printed. Sometimes there’s a glaze put on top of it. That one you might want to use for the top, but you would know that because of the feeling of it and the way it looks. For example, I’m not going to want to use the back of this one because it’s very obvious it’s the back. Batiqs, on the other hand, sometimes you really don’t notice the difference. You can get away with it. So those are some basic things on getting to know the fabric. It sort of helps me, kind of following my selvage edges and things like that, but I have to tell you, the way that I learned the most about the fabric is taking clothing apart. When I was a little girl my mother used to take me to the secondhand store and let me pick out anything I wanted in the store. It wasn’t to fit me; it was fabric. So my mother would take time and she would pick apart those seams and of course that was part of my job too, and then we would keep the zippers and the buttons and the interfacing and we would press it, and my mother would have fabric to start with. Now when you take apart a seam or you take part of an item that’s been used, you learn a lot about the fabric. You learn how strong the fabric has been, you’ve learned where it’s faded, where it is stretched, and that kind of gives you a lot of information about fabric. Kind of gives you a good opportunity to learn about fabric. So when you do have to take something apart, kind of take time and look at the seams and look at the difference between the seams that have been enclosed versus the rest of the fabric. You can learn a lot about your fabric just taking things apart. I don’t think that was the idea when my mother was doing it but however I did learn from it and I thank her for all the teaching she did give me. So I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode on just getting to know fabric and the little terminology a little bit better, and until next time I’ll see you later. Come back again. Bye now!