Sewing Tips: Facts about Fabrics

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Below is an excerpt from 150 Sewing Tips by Mary Johnson, printed in Woman's Day in 1962. I found this booklet in my grandmother's sewing library. Reading it not only conjured up memories of my grandmother, but reminded me of the legacy of this crafting tradition.

Facts about Fabrics

* Woolens are the easiest to handle, especially the firmly woven medium weights. They come folded wrong-side out, all ready or the pattern.

* Cottons are the next easiest. They are folded right-side out and when printed, or when the right and wrong sides are different, as in sateen, they must be re-folded wrong-side out, before pinning pattern.

* Tubular jersey and other knits are often manufactured with the right-side out, but sometimes come the other way around, so inspect them carefully before laying out the pattern.

* Some wools have nap, a surface finish on the right side that is smooth to the touch when brushed with the hand one way, rough when brushed the other. Use with nap smooth in a downward direction.

* Some cottons such as corduroy have a pile, smooth to the touch one way, rough the other. The smoothness is usually worn upward for clothing, directed down for household items.

* Synthetics, made in many imitations of natural fabrics, often have a nap or pile too, and they are used in exactly the same way as their natural counterparts are.

* When silk, rayon or synthetic velvet is used for clothing, the pile is usually worn upward for richer color and better wearing quality.  

* With upholstery velvets, the pile is placed downward. The tone is subtler and it is easier to clean.

* Some fabrics must be held taut during stitching, with one hand ahead of the needle, the other behind it. This applies to heavy coatings on which the presser foot tends to move the top layer and cause uneven ends at the bottom of the seam; to plaids so that the lines stay matched; to synthetics and to sheers like organza, no matter what their fiber content, to prevent puckering.
Have more questions about fabric? Stay tuned for Textile Tuesdays where we highlight a different fabric's make and use every week.

Sew on people!

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