I thought some of you may appreciate a bit of jargon busting!
Sewing, as with many crafts and hobbies, seems to have its own vocabulary, so lets see if I can translate a few of the most common terms.
This is the direction of the fabric, the north and south if you like, as the fabric comes off the roll with the selvedge either side.
If the grain is the north and south, this is the east and west, so the cross grain is the direction from side to side.
This is the 45 degree angle to the straight line. Bias tape is strips of fabric cut at this angle, as bias cutting creates a bit of stretch in the fabric, so when trimming anything with a curve, the bias tape won’t pucker.
The selvedge is the term for the edges of the fabric, where the thread has been looped back to stop the fabric from unravelling. Some manufacturers will print the brand name here, and a reference to the colours used in the print. Always cut off the selvedge before you start a project as the weave tends to be slightly different to the fabric, but take a good look at it before you throw it away, some selvedges make lovely trims!
The threads in your woven fabric that go up and down.
The threads that go across your fabric. An easy way to remember is that these threads go ‘weft to right’.
Washing and drying your fabric before you start to sew will eliminate shrinkage in your finished project, so wash it in the same way as you would wash your finished item. That said, I don’t wash bags or cushion covers, I spot clean them if they get dirty, so wouldn’t pre wash in this case. The feel of you fabric may be a little softer after washing as the sizing is washed away, if you like the crispness, use a little spray starch when you iron it. If you’re concerned about colours running, uncommon unless your fabric is red or purple, then just cut a small piece and soak it in warm soapy water for half an hour or so. Whilst still wet, place on some white kitchen roll and you’ll soon see if the colour’s running!
Fabric sold on a flat cardboard tube, the material is usually folded in half.
Take a meter or yard of fabric and cut it in half lengthways, then in half again widthways, and you’ll have four pieces of fabric that measure around 18” x 22”. These are fat quarters. If you cut one of these pieces in half lengthways, you have a fat eighth.
Fat quarters are commonly sold in packs of co-ordinating colours and prints, such a good idea as you know they’re all going to match!
A roll of 2 ½” wide individual strips of co-ordinating fabric, usually used in patchwork and quilting. The pre-cut strips can be cut into squares, diamonds and triangles, or used for sashing [the strips that separate quilt blocks].