We would like to introduce you to our newest blogger, Liesl Gibson. Having earned her degree from FIT here in New York, she has worked for high profile brands as Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren. After the birth of the daughter, she was disappointed by the lack of contemporary design and the outdated fit specifications she found in most kids patterns. So what did she do? She started her own line of amazingly beautiful patterns for kids under the name Oliver + S. Take a look at her patterns and projects here on BurdaStyle.
So, without further ado, here is Liesl.
In upcoming months, I’ll be writing a series of posts here about fabric. Topics will range from how to select appropriate cotton prints for your projects, to the different types of fabrics available for garment sewing, to how designers create a collection of printed fabrics.
To begin the series, I thought it would be useful to start with some fundamentals. If you’re new to sewing, some fabric terms may be confusing or foreign to you. Here is a basic explanation of the key fabric terminology that you’ll need to know.
Selvedge, or selvage: The narrow finished lengthwise edges of a woven fabric, usually ¼” to ½” wide, that are often more tightly woven than the rest of the fabric. (This prevents the fabric from tearing when it is finished at the mill.) Because the selvedges constructed differently than the rest of the fabric, they may shrink at a different rate than the rest of the fabric when washed. Selvedges should generally be removed before sewing.
Warp: The yarns in a fabric that run parallel to the selvedge are called the warp. These are the fabric’s foundation yarns and are wound onto the loom before the fabric is woven. Warp yarns are usually the strongest yarns. Your fabric will drape nicely if you cut and sew so that the warp hangs perpendicular to the floor when the garment is finished.
Weft: The yarns that run across the fabric, from selvedge to selvedge. These are the secondary yarns of the fabric, or the fill yarns. These yarns are not as strong as the warp yarns and often have a little stretch or give in them, even when a fabric is not a stretch fabric.
Grain: Grain refers to the direction in which the yarns, or threads, are woven in a fabric. The fabric’s grain runs both lengthwise (parallel to the selvedges) and widthwise (perpendicular to the selvedges). The lengthwise grain (the warp yarn) is called the straight grain, while the widthwise grain (the weft yarn) is called the cross grain.
Bias: Any diagonal line that doesn’t run directly on grain (warp or weft) is referred to as being on bias or off grain. Fabric cut on bias has more stretch and drape than fabric cut on the straight or cross grain, but bias can distort or twist if not cut on true bias because woven fabrics stretch most at a 45 degree angle to the warp and weft (“true bias”).
True bias: A 45 degree angle to the warp and weft threads. True bias has lots of stretch and drape and conforms nicely to contours because the yarns can bend and shift with the weight of the fabric.
Liesl Gibson designs the popular Oliver + S line of sewing patterns for children’s clothing. Read more of her writing on the Oliver + S blog