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Important Fabric Concepts for Sewing Students

I have not written a blog post in a while, but I feel compelled now as there are some subjects that come up constantly in our classes that I think are important. This blog post is dedicated our present sewing students and to future sewing students as well.

Wash your fabric before sewing! With the exception of the fleece that we use for stuffies and fabric that says “dry clean only” all fabric should be washed before sewing. Our beginner projects are all done on some type of woven cotton. Flannel, by the way is woven cotton as well. When washing your cotton fabric, it should be in cold water with detergent (preferably unscented!) and dried in the dryer. PLEASE do not use perfumed fabric softeners or dryer sheets. There are several reasons for this.

  1. When the fabric is ironed, these scents and  perfumes heat up and can be a real irritant to your nose and lungs. If you have any allergies affecting your respiratory system, it can make it hard to breathe. This is a real issue in our sewing classroom as we have seen in our classes some children have a hard time breathing being around any kind of fragrance…it’s scary to see a child struggle to breathe if she or he is near the ironing board when the fragrance is intensified by ironing.
  2. Fabric softeners can leave a residue on the fabric which gets on the iron, sewing machine and your needle.
  3. In addition, there is no need for all these chemicals being added to your fabric. All that perfumed stuff was developed to deal with covering up body odor. This is NEW fabric!
  4. Reasons for washing new fabric:
    1. Gets any coating/fabric finish off the fabric.
    2. Gets the “shrink out” as fabric can shrink up to 3% when washed for the first time.
    3. In addition, some new fabrics “bleed” when they are washed for the first time because of the dyes used. After the first washing, you should be able to wash your new garment with your other clothes once it is sewn.

 

Diagonal Stripes, Directional Fabric & Solids

This topic seems to be misunderstood by many of our parents when buying fabric for their children’s lessons. Adult sewing students also seem to have a hard time with this concept. When we send out information on buying fabric for a class, we ask the following:

 

diagonal stripesone way pattern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. NO SOLID COLORS. The problem with solid colors is if you don’t carefully mark right side and wrong side, people end up flipping the fabric around and sewing the wrong pieces together. What a mess! We have seen this on lounge pants (both kids and adults have made this mistake) and it is a disaster!
  2. NO DIAGONAL STRIPES! Diagonal stripes are almost impossible to lay out with a pattern and match the stripes. This never looks good on a beginner project and is VERY frustrating!
  3. ONE-WAY DESIGNS there are some very cute fabrics with a one-way design, so just buy an extra half yard to a yard of fabric. That way we have enough fabric to lay it out so everything is facing the right way! Example: picture of cup-cakes… if you turn it one way the cupcakes face up, but if you turn it another way they are upside down and if you turn it sideways…well, the cupcakes look pretty odd!

 

Info on the end of the fabric bolt

When you shop for fabric, look at the end of the bolt and you will find all kinds of information. There is so much information on the end of the bolt! Look at the picture below. end of bolt

  1. Fabric Name (Nice to know if you want to buy it again at a later date, but not terribly important.)
  2. Fiber Content (This is VERY important!)
  3. Fabric Width (This is important.)
  4. Care (read: washing) instructions
  5. Designer (sometimes included, but not always)
  6. Price (per yard)

Number 2 Fiber Content is SUPER important. We ask for 100% cotton because it is the easiest and most forgiving of fabrics to start learning to sew with.

Number 3 Fabric Width is also important. The narrowest fabric is usually 42-43″ wide. Some fabrics are actually narrower (especially some specialty quilting cottons and batik cottons) and some are as wide as 58-60″ wide. The wider the fabric, the more fabric you get per yard.

Number 4 Fabric Care (washing) instructions is SUPER important. If it says dry clean only, it is not a great choice for a beginner project of lounge pants that need to get washed often!

That’s all I can think of for now. I hope this clarifies concepts we have tried to explain in the past. If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me. I love to hear from you! 

Very sincerely,

Rebecca Szetela
Create!® Sewing Studio
rebecca@createsew.com

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