Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

Help… Heathered Jersey off Grain

kbalinski | Posted in General Discussion on


Any tips for handling 3 yards of lightweight heathered jersey that is unmanagable to fold and layout?  When I square the heathered “stripes” of the fabric, the selvages and cut ends are not parallel, and unless I cut out the entire pattern as a single thickness *YUCK* I don’t know how I’ll manage.  The fact that the jersey clings to itself is exacerbating the problem, and I’m about ready to tear my hair out.  Such a bummer… I was really excited about making this dress, in this fabric!



  1. woodruff | | #1

    I've run into this, too, and sad to say, cutting out single-thickness is the only solution that works for me.

  2. woodruff | | #2

    OK, I just had a second thought, using a technique I often have to employ with difficult and crabby woven fabrics: If your jersey is washable, you can lay a bedsheet out somewhere and unfold your jersey onto it, single-thickness, patting it as flat and neat as you can.

    Then, get some spray starch and spray the heck out of the whole thing. Let it dry flat (which won't take too long). If you have laid it out nicely, you won't even need to iron it, and it will have a slightly crisp hand that will make it much easier to work with.

    Sew as usual, and when the garment is done, toss it into the washing machine to get rid of the starch.

    This routine has helped me many times with slippery woven silks and rayons, and it really does work like a charm on them.

    1. User avater
      clairezbo | | #7

      I love this idea. Would you have to wash the silk first too stop  shrinkage???

      1. woodruff | | #9

        clairezbo and rekha, I machine wash and dry all my silks before using them, because I don't like drycleaning and do not mind the slight loss of luster that may possibly, occasionally, occur with washing; in fact, I often prefer that change--and besides, how was silk cleaned before the invention of drycleaning? Right.As to using starch on thicker knits,etc? Myself, I'd try it on any difficult but washable fabic. That's just me, but I really want my fabrics to bend to MY wishes. The only exception, I suppose, would be a silk bouclé that I intended to use for a suit, but that's only theoretical, because suits are aren't part of my life.

        1. maggiecoops | | #10

           how was silk cleaned before the invention of drycleaning?

          squeezed gently in warm (tepid) water mixed to a lather with soap flakes or mild soapless detergent. Launderesses were taught that no rubbing, twisting,wringing or hot water was to be used. Rinsing 3 to 4 times in clear tepid water and finally in cold water then to roll the silk (garment or item) in a thick moisture absorbing cloth ( towel) and pat to remove excess moisture then hung away from heat. To Iron whilst still slightly damp using a medium cool iron on the wrong side or over a muslin pressing cloth. To restore sheen white vinegar was added to the final rinse, then before it was rewashed soaked in cool water for 30 minutes to remove the acid. To restiffen silk, a solution of gum arabic was used and the silk ironed dry.

          Silk is a delicate thread and  damages or rots easily, I'm afraid unless it was a cheap one, I wouldn't wash it in my front loader or tumble dry it. I do launder silk crepe de chine underwear and nightgowns, but that's about it.  The new synthetic fabrics with their silk look and handle I wash and tumble with no worries, plus they're a quarter the price of good silk yardage.

          1. jjgg | | #11

            Silk is actually a very strong fiber, it is really all washable, but the finishes that are applied will be removed, and satin weaves will get damaged by agitation. When the silk fiber is removed from the silk worm cocoon, it is soaked in boiling water to help loosen the the 'glue' (I forget the technical term for the stuff). Many silk fabrics will water spot if drops of water get on it,(such as from a spitting iron) but, if you pre-was the silk, you will never have problems with water spots. Silk will not shrink - remember it is processed in boiling water - NOw, the weave of the fabric may not handle washing machines, but the fiber is very strong and durable. Yes, silk will rot after 15 - 3o yrs or so (perhaps more) as it is a natural organic matter.

          2. woodruff | | #12

            Exactly, jjgg. My machine-washed and -dried tops, pants, and nighties look yummy, even after years of such treatment. Some of them do have a slightly sandwashed look, but, as I mentioned, I like that. As you say, water-spotting is simply not a problem with washed silk garments, and curiously, I find the silk also wrinkles less after such treatment.

          3. maggiecoops | | #13

            Hi Jigg, the reason I don't launder silk is because when I lived in Germany in the early 70s I bought and washed a length of dye silk, the result was ruined silk. I sent it back to the manufacturer ( a mill in Germany) who told me I shouldn't have washed it in a machine as when it's wet it loses some of its strength and can be damaged, the creases that had appeared were set by using a high tumble dryer heat setting, or too hot a wash. I had used a wool setting and hung it to dry. Since then unless the silk fabric has been marked as washable, I have had it dry cleaned.  I copied this from an article on this site http://sewing.about.com/library/sewnews/library/aasilk0304.htm


            Caring for Silk

            Silk is extremely strong, but repeated exposure to the sun will weaken the fiber. Avoid using it for curtains, draperies or other home décor items when sunlight is pervasive.

            Many silks can be hand washed using mild detergent and lukewarm water. Roll the fabric in a towel to absorb the excess water. Iron dry on a low setting. If you’re unsure about washing silk, test a swatch first.

            Pretreat silk yardage as you plan to care for the finished garment; many silks will shrink.

            Structured silk garments and fragile fabrics should be dry-cleaned to prevent damage. Multicolor prints and bright colors may need to be dry-cleaned to prevent the dye from running.

            Moths will attack silk so store clothing appropriately.

            Never use chlorine bleach on silk-—it will yellow the fiber.


            It has several tips on how to cut and sew silk, also a desriptor of the various weaves, I have found it useful, and as I'm not a great lover of domestic chores, I'll stick to being idle and get my silk items dry cleaned.


          4. Teaf5 | | #18

            I have a 15-yard piece of pongee silk that is at least 90 years old; it's still in fine shape.  And a crepe de chine blouse I loved enough to wear weekly finally wore out after 30 years, so in my case, silk is truly durable!  Both washed well with mild shampoo and a single rinse.

        2. User avater
          clairezbo | | #14

          well, I knew that you could wash silk, they say it gives it a better hand after it is washed. We certainly got a lot of information on this subject. the girls never let us down

          1. lorisews | | #15

            A lot of the experts say to use shampoo to wash silk, because the acidic pH of the shampoo is much safer for the protein fibers of the silk (which are much like hair) than the alkaline laundry or other detergents.

          2. User avater
            clairezbo | | #16

            Yes, I have heard that. I was also told to take the silk in hand, and wrinkle it up, If it pops back fast, it is a good piece of silk. I had a silk blouse that was washible, but it took so long to iron it, I finally gave up. Proberly cheap silk???? Have learned a few tricks to washing since then. Nothing like a bad experence to make you learn really fast!

          3. User avater
            Thimblefingers | | #17

            I don't know who to address this to!  Anyway, silk is a very strong fibre when it is dry but becomes very weak when it is wet.  So everyone who says it is strong and those who say it is delicate are all correct!  Thus, to maintain it's beautiful qualities, it is important to launder it carefully as some of you have already described.  However, washing it normally will break down the fibre somewhat because of its weakness, and give the silk qualities that some of you prefer especially for certain garments - like the softer sand-washed look.  Some of my experiences with washing silk have been very good and some disasters.  One disaster was with hanging to dry until slightly damp (after carefully towelling it) - as the silk dried, the dye (it was a soft pale grey colour - crepe de chine) migrated from the top where it was draped over a rod towards the bottom.  I have lighter line across the middle of the goods and darker colour towrds the ends.  Now I lay silk flat to dry.  Another was that the  texture of the fabric changed from smooth and shiny to a very strange dull pebbly look with lines resembling wrinkles - I should have tested first - and so far have not had the heart to do anything with it (it doesn't iron out).  My suggestion is to test a sample and, considering what you want the final product to look or wear like, choose your laundering method. 

    2. rekha | | #8

      This is a very sound idea for any thin and unmanageable fabric. I wonder whether this can be used for the heavier stretch fabrics as well?

  3. Brine | | #3

    You might try washing and drying it (again?) I would think that if it is still off-grain then there isn't anything you can do about it: if you do manage to straighten it for the purposes of cutting it out it will revert to its original shape when it is washed. I don't want to discourage you, but I have had some similar pieces in the past that I was unable to salvage.

  4. starzoe | | #4

    Cutting single thickness may be the only way to salvage this fabric, but it might be impossible to line up the stripes if the whole piece has been printed (or knitted) skewed.

  5. Teaf5 | | #5

    I agree with Brine that you may end up hating a dress made out of fabric that is printed off-grain; it won't lie flat, it'll twist as you wear it, and you'll end up never wearing it. A twisted knit is never comfortable, and one that clings to itself will cling to everything--your body, your coat, whatever.

    However, if the fabric store won't take it back, and you want to give it a shot, square up the stripes and forget about the selvedges and cut ends lining up. Some pieces of tissue paper between the layers will prevent it from sticking to itself.

    1. kbalinski | | #6

      Thanks to all for your advice.  As usual, I'm so glad to have access to this discussion board!  I will make another attempt...  I really, really want it to work, but maybe this fabric is just meant for a different project.

      FYI - The company I bought the knit from is giving me a 50% credit toward a future purchase.


This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All