If you’re here, I know that you must have pre-washed your fabric, dried it, and ironed it.
And now you’re ready to make sure your fabric is square.
And we got no time for any of that nonsense, do we?!
So, let’s learn how to get our fabric grain perfect…
NOTE: If you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies, please click HERE!
On Grain or Square Defined
When a length of fabric is on grain (square), all of the following statements are true:
- the selvages are perfectly aligned;
- the fold is smooth and flat; and
- the cut edges are straight AND the corners are at right angles
See what I mean?!
The fold is nice and flat.
And the cut end at the top is even AND perpendicular to the selvages.
Sew easy tip: When buying your fabric, make sure the previous cut on the bolt was even. Do NOT let the cutter cut your length uneven. Because if you have to straighten the grain, you may lose precious yardage that you’ve paid for!
Now that you know what squared fabric looks like, let’s learn how to check if our length of fabric is grain perfect…
How to Check If Your Woven Fabric Is On Grain
In order to check if your length of fabric is on grain (square)…
FIRST, fold your length of fabric until the selvages meet and match up with the folded edge closest to you.
Now smooth your fabric until it is nice and flat.
In the image above, look at that awful fold on the left. It is a hot, wonky mess!
And if you look closely you can see that the cut ends — at the top and the bottom — are also uneven.
Mmm. Can you now begin to imagine how awful a garment made with this off-grain fabric would look and feel to wear?!
So where do we begin to fix the wonky, hot mess in the image above?!
Well, there are several methods you can choose from…
How to Square Woven Fabric
When it comes to how to square your fabric, you have choices.
Which one you choose will depend on the weave of your fabric and your preferences.
Once you’ve attempted to straighten the grain, it is important to retest by folding your fabric, selvage to selvage, and re-checking the fold.
The Tear Method
There are two steps to the tear method:
- Make a little snip at the corner of the shortest selvages.
- And then, tear the fabric from one selvage to the other selvage. Repeat on the other cut end if it also uneven.
And it is also not ideal for linens and other thin fabrics, because of the resulting distortion of the fabric.
So while tearing the fabric may be easier than pulling a thread, I don’t use it. Because I don’t do fugly!
Pull a Single Thread Method
I’ll be honest with you, with this method, you will need that jar of patience I mentioned HERE!
If your fabric is too tightly woven, a linen, or very thin, you will most likely not be able to tear it.
So you will have to pull a thread. And here’s how…
- Make a snip at the corner of the shortest selvages just like you did for the tear method above.
- Next, carefully pull a SINGLE, crosswise thread. As you pull on that single thread, it will gather.
- Once you’ve got that straight, crosswise line (see image below), use your dressmaker’s shears to cut along that line to remove the uneven end.
- When you’ve reached the opposite selvage, refold the fabric, aligning the selvages with each other again and smooth your fabric until it is nice and flat. And re-assess the cut ends and the fold. Remember, right angles rule!
Now, please keep the following two points in mind when using this method:
- As you pull the thread, the thread will break at some point — probably more than once. Annoying, I know.
- But just smooth out the gathered area. Then, take your shears, find the fine line the pulled thread has left behind, and cut up to the point where the thread broke. Continue in this manner until you reach the other selvage.
Pulling on the Bias
Well, after trying one of the above methods, your fabric may still have the audacity to be off grain?
This means it is time for a little tough love.
Here’s how you pull on the bias…
- Gently but firmly grasp the short corners of the fabric.
- Then, pull the short ends along the bias in the direction it needs to be straightened.
- Do this until your edges are even and ALL four corners form perfect right angles like the first image above!
If your length of fabric is long, you will have to do this in sections.
Truth is, pulling on the bias can help a lot, a little, or not at all. It depends on the quality of your fabric.
If you’re feeling frustrated right now, can I tell you a secret?!
Better quality fabrics are generally NOT off grain. This is just another reason to invest in the best quality fabric you can afford!
Sew easy tip: Be careful when pulling printed fabrics on the bias. You don’t want to distort the prints!
The Waste of Squaring Wovens
Whether you tear or pull a thread, there can be a lot of waste of your precious fabric…
Therefore, you might want to buy an extra ¼ yard of fabric to account for any you might lose as a result of squaring your fabric.
Alright, it’s time to talk about squaring knits…
How to Square Knits
With knits, you cannot tear, pull a thread, or pull on the bias.
- Turn your knit fabric on its right side (RS). And locate a single column of “v” stitches.
- Then, mark this column from one cut end to the other cut end with a chalk wheel or ballpoint straight pins.
- And then fold along the marked line.
- Now, you’re ready to place your pattern pieces that call to be placed on the fold.
Who has the time, the eyesight, and/or the patience for all this?!
Method 2 and 3
So depending on my mood and the project…
- I create an expanded pattern and cut out my knit garment in a single layer layout; or
- From the RS, I eyeball it and get as close as I can to a straight column of “v” stitches (see image below).
While knits are more forgiving than wovens, the diagonal slant shown in the image on the right is a definite no-go.
RELATED: Click HERE to learn everything you need to know about wovens and knits!
And you know how to make it so.
So if you’re square, let’s meet at the cutting table and learn about sewing patterns.
Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!
RELATED: Click HERE to learn the essential sewing tools and supplies!
RELATED: Click HERE to learn all you need to know about your sewing machine, your Best Friend Forever (BFF)!
RELATED: Click HERE if you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies!