What Can A Piece of Fabric Tell You?
For those of you who are seasoned seamstresses, this will bore you to tears. But for many, I’m hoping this will give you new information. Anyone who sews has visited a fabric shop or a fabric department of a large store. The myriad of yardage on the bolts is so colorful and enticing. The label on the end of the bolt can give you fabric content, care instructions and the width. But what can the fabric tell you about itself?
The edges of the fabric are called the selvages. Many mills will print information on the selvage that can be of use to you.
Many times, you can find the name of the manufacturer in the selvage. This is handy if you find yourself with a real winner item, and are considering buying a specific print or pattern in bulk (by the bolt). If you deal directly with the manufacturer, your cost per yard can come down dramatically. I buy quilt batting by the bolt directly from a mill. What I would pay $5.99 a yard for in a store costs me about $1.00 per yard by the bolt from the mill. Typically, there’s 45 yards or so on a bolt, so you need to be sure you’re going to use a lot of whatever it is!
Particularly true in the US, if there are government regulations limiting the use of a particular fabric, it should be printed in the selvage. Most commonly, this has to do with children’s sleepwear. Although a fabric not suitable for sleepwear can be used in bedding or blankets, this is something that might be of interest to you. It doesn’t mean that you can’t use this material for sheets or blankets, but you may want to find something that is approved in this case.
Do you fret over which colors go together? The selvage can help you here too! Many fabrics will give you a color chart in the selvage to help you coordinate materials. This is especially helpful with quilts or outfits with different yardage. Pick your primary piece and match the secondary, or complimentary, pieces to the color chart printed in the selvage.
My sample piece shown is not directional. Directional fabrics are typically plaids, stripes or checks which need to be matched in the seams of the project you’re constructing. Directional fabrics often will tell you how often the pattern repeats in the selvage; a handy bit of information to have!
The grain of the fabric is simply the way the threads run. Fabrics lay better in finished pieces if the grain is straight throughout.
I hope you found this information helpful. Happy sewing!
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