Setting Yourself Up for Sewing Success – Part 2

A continuation of yesterday’s class outline post. There should be one or two more parts. Part 2 covers Fabric Grain & Bias, Ease & Easing, Seamlines & Seam Allowances, and Pins & Pinning.

Fabric Grain & Bias

Warp & Weft

Warp: The set of lengthwise threads that are held in tension on a frame or loom.

Weft: The thread that is inserted over and under the warp threads.

Warp = Grain

“On Grain” or “Grainline”: The direction of the warp threads.

  • Fabric is strongest in this direction.
  • In general, your garment should be cut “on grain” for it to hang on your body properly.

“Crossgrain” = weft

  • Less stable than the grainline; tends to stretch more  


Bias: The diagonal direction on the fabric. True Bias is 45 degrees to warp and/or weft.

The most important feature of bias is that it stretches!

  • True bias stretches the most.

Essentially, when fabric is cut on the bias the weft threads tend to fan out, causing the cut edge to stretch.

Note that anytime fabric is cut at an angle or curve, at least part of it is on the bias. This includes necklines.

Ease & Easing

“Ease” can be either a noun or a verb:

Garment Ease: The amount of fabric added to the body measurement that allows a garment to fit around the body according to the garment’s design.

  • Fitting Ease is the amount of fabric required to make a garment not skin-tight.
  • Design Ease is the amount of fabric required to not just make a garment fit over the body, but to make the garment look like the design. For example, a tight sheath has a lot less ease than a loose peasant blouse.

Easing, or “to ease”: To make a longer piece of fabric fit onto a shorter piece of fabric without gathers or pleats.

  • Example: Matching bias pieces that have stretched to on-grain pattern pieces (e.g. sewing in a triangular gore).

Ease can also be used to mold fabric into 3D shapes.

  • Sleeve caps
  • “Princess-line” bodice fronts

The thinner and looser-weave the fabric, the more you can ease it. The thicker and stiffer the fabric, the less you will be able to ease it.

Approach – Divide and Conquer!

  • Match and pin ends
  • Pin middle
  • Pin quarters
  • Manipulate/stretch fabric to fit and pin.

Seamlines and Seam Allowances

Seamline: The line where you will be stitching

Seam allowance: The amount of fabric to the outside of the seamline, on the opposite side of the garment body.

  • Common seam allowances: 1/4”, ½”, 5/8”

For any pattern, make sure you know what the seam allowance is!

Pattern piece edge = the outside edge of the seam allowance

Always match seamlines, not pattern piece edges

Pins & Pinning

  • Use the right size/type pins on your fabric to prevent damage to your fabric.
  • Think about how your fabric will move through your machine and pin accordingly.
  • Never sew over pins! Hitting pins will not only break your needle, but you can seriously damage your machine.

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