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Preparing the Fabric: Folding the Fabric

Before we get started on folding fabric techniques, let's take a look at the three sides of fabric.

This is the salvage edge of the fabric.

The finished end of the fabric which usually has writing or color numbers, or is white in color, as shown above, is known as the "selvage edge" of the fabric. This is where the fabric was attached to the loom when the cloth was made. The distance from the  selvage edge to the other selvage edge tells us the width of the fabric.

Here is a photo of the folded edge of the fabric when pinning, cutting, and sewing.

Simply enough, the end that is folded is called the "folded edge" of the fabric.

Here is a photo of the raw edge of the fabric when sewing.

The edge of the fabric in which the clerk at the store cut or ripped is called the "raw edge" of the fabric.


   Once your fabric has been selected, prepared, and straightened, check the layout of your pattern pieces, and fold the fabric accordingly. The original fold, if there was one on the fabric, should have been pressed out. As a general rule fabric should be folded with the pretty sides together so that the pattern pieces would lie on the wrong side of the fabric. Here are several ways to fold your fabric for pattern layout preparation.

 If the fold is in half lengthwise, make sure it follows exactly the warp thread. This is the most commonly used fold. Place the selvage edges together lengthwise.

Folding fabric techniques.


Here's a photo with a pattern layout on the fabric.

Here's a photo of a pattern layout with the fabric folded in half lengthwise with the selvage edges together, the most common way to fold fabric for garment making.


  If it's across the fabric, it should follow the weft. Place the raw edges together.


Some layouts require more than one type of fold to be used. If many of your patterns pieces need to be placed on the fold, it is best to have two folds. To do so take both selvage edges and have them meet in the middle.

To double fold your fabric place the selvage edges together in the middle.

This way you have a fold at the top and at the bottom. Here is an example:

This sewing pattern required all the big pieces to be placed on the fold line. Notice all the wasted fabric on the left side in the above photo. This is how I would have to lay the pattern if I only used one fold.

Now notice all the extra fabric there is since I folded my fabric so that there are two folds. To do so place both selvage edges together in the center as shown. Now I can place my "place on fold line" pattern pieces on both sides which both have folds. Now there is enough room for me to make a skirt, or matching bag to go with my top.

     When the fabric has been folded correctly for a particular layout you may want to pin the salvage end together, and the raw ends. This is especially done on fabrics move easily like slippery silky fabrics, or ones that roll like knits. Place your pins at right angles every 6" - 8" apart. This makes it much easier for pinning the pattern and cutting.



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