Whilst fabric cutting is one of the fundamentals of garment making, it can often be tedious and confusing. Follow our beginner's guide below for simple instructions on how to cut your woven fabrics, both on the straight grain and on the bias for more drapey garments.
Let’s start with the basics: Warps, Wefts and Grains
Warps and Wefts are the two key components used in weaving fabrics – warp yarns go vertically and are stronger, with the weft being threaded over and under the warp horizontally. Grain refers to the orientation of the weft and warp threads – the straight grain falls parallel with the warp threads and the selvedge, the cross grain perpendicular, and the bias grain (normally referred to as ‘the bias’) falls diagonally between the straight and cross grains. Whilst ‘the bias’ can refer to any diagonal grainline, what we call the ‘true’ bias refers to the 45 degree angle that intersects the warp and the weft – woven fabric has two true biases that are perpendicular to each other.
Image Credit: Made Studio Textiles
On a woven fabric, there is no stretch along the warps (horizontal) or wefts (vertical), but there is along the bias (diagonal). If your pattern pieces aren’t cut straight, they won’t fall correctly, may not fit correctly and may stretch in odd ways.
Cutting on the straight grain
To cut your pattern pieces straight, you need to cut on the straight grain. To lay your fabric accordingly, match the selvedges up to create a straight edge and a folded edge. Pin on one end of the grain line marked on the pattern, measure to the selvedge and make sure the distance between the other end of the grain line is the same. This means the grain line is parallel to the selvedge and straight.
Cutting on the bias
Alternatively, cutting along the bias utilises the stretch of the fabric and creates a nicer drape for the garment and helps it fall. On lustrous fabrics, the fabric can often have more sheen when cut on the bias. When cutting on the bias, it’s easier to cut all your pattern pieces on a single layer of fabric rather than a fold (when you have multiple layers, the fabric can move around more). If the pattern piece you are cutting needs to be cut on the fold, cut the first half then flip that over the centre line in order to cut the other side.
Want more tips + tricks? Read our How To: Full Bust Adjustment here.