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General Fabric Information

There are basically two kinds of fabrics, knit (jerseys, fleeces, interlocks, terrys) and woven (twills, cottons, dobbys). These can be made from either natural or synthetic fibers or a blend of both. Combining synthetic and natural fibers gives an almost unlimited variety. In purchasing fabric for your sewing projects, examine the fabric to see how it feels, drapes, does it wrinkle easily, or does it ravel.

It is important to choose fabrics that will compliment the pattern design, look attractive on the person wearing the garment and perform according to your expectations. To determine if the fabric is suitable for the pattern, be sure to check the suggested fabrics. It is important to know if the pattern is designed for knit or woven fabric and if it is for light, medium, heavy, soft or crisp fabric.

When purchasing fabric, take note if the fabric should be cut in one direction. If the fabric has to be cut this way, it sometimes requires more fabric. All fabric with nap such as velvet, corduroy, velour, and terry should be cut one way. Fabrics with a one-way design and all knits should be cut one way.

Be sure to allow extra fabric for shrinkage. Usually all fabric with cotton will shrink to some degree. Extra fabric should be allowed for matching stripes, plaids and large designs.

When you are using patterns designed for stretch fabric, it is important to use fabric with the degree of stretch the pattern recommends. Most patterns have stretch chart on the back of the envelope.

To test the fabric for the degree of stretch, fold over the crosswise edge of the fabric 3" (8 cm). Mark 4" (10 cm) with pins. Hold the 4" (1 0 cm) strip of the folded fabric against the chart and stretch gently to the outside line. If the fabric stretches easily, without excessive rolling, to this line or slightly farther, the fabric has the correct amount of stretch for the pattern.

If you use a fabric that stretches more than recommended, your garment will have a looser fit. If the fabric stretches less, it will have a closer fit. You should not substitute woven fabric for knit fabric or use a knit fabric when the pattern recommends a woven fabric. Some patterns are designed for both woven and knits, but these knits should be stable and have a very small degree of stretch.

This is also a good time to check the fabric for recovery, if the fabric does not return to its original shape, it will probably mean that the fabric will sag and stretch out of shape when the garment is worn.


Any fabric you buy which is washable should be pre-washed before you cut out the garment. Use the same setting on your washer and dryer as you would for the finished garment. We recommend to use detergent when you wash the fabric. Prewashing will eliminate the possibility of the garment shrinking the first time it is washed. It is very discouraging to do all the work of constructing a garment only to find that it has shrunk after the first wash. Do not pre-wash ribbing, as it makes it difficult to sew.