Over the weekend, I watched various Lolita sewing tutorials online for inspiration. One of them was quite charming. The girl spoke clearly, the video was high quality, and the steps, albeit not quite textbook (my sewing instructor would have a hissy fit), were described well. However, one part made me cringe. She suggested to always cut your pattern so the print on the fabric is straight.
I know, many of your are probably saying, “This makes perfect sense, Super Bloomers! Why would I want to wear a JSK with crooked plaid?” The answer all comes down to the basics of fabric, the grainline. If you cut your pattern according to a crooked print, your lengthwise grain will then be crooked. When you make your garment, it will not drape correctly. The lengthwise grain wants to be perpendicular to the floor and it will do what it can to accomplish this goal. Gathers won’t fold straight, skirts won’t hang nicely over a petticoat, and the garment could warp after the first wash! All of this results in a homemade look and one very sad Lolita.
To avoid this, look at the selvage of the printed fabric on the bolt before you buy it and check to see if the print is straight. If vertical stripes or plaids are vanishing along this line, the print is crooked. It’s best if you don’t buy it. Don’t look at the cut end of the fabric. This cut end is NEVER perpendicular to the lengthwise grain for a myriad of reasons so it isn’t a good place to judge. In addition, when checking prints, a print might not appear straight, but really is. Sometimes, when fabric is wound around a bolt incorrectly the fabric warps. Though a sign of not the highest quality fabric, this can easily be fix using the method outlined in this post. Therefore, the most important way to check is to look at the selvage.
What do you do if you already purchased your fabric and it turns out the print is crooked? I’m not sure. I did a quick Google search for this and didn’t turn up any satisfying results. So, unless your Google-fu is better than mine is, I would say pick a reference, either the grainline or the print, stick with it for the entire garment, and cross your fingers. The garment might just turn out to be a giant practice piece or it might not be as bad as you think. Either way, we learn from our mistakes and you will do better in the future. ^_^
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