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Stretch Fabric on Cross grain

FFO | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

I have been sewing for many years, with varied success, mostly on woven fabrics and I use Wild Ginger Pattern making software because my body is hard to fit. Because I do not typically sew on stretch fabrics, I have no construction instructions to refer to so I am looking for help from my fellow sewers.  I am trying to work on different types of fabrics to increase my sewing skills and have recently purchased a stretch knit with cross grain stretch of about 3″ and on grain about 1.5″.  When I draped the fabric I noticed that the pattern was more flattering when I used the cross grain for the length of the dress instead of cutting it on grain.  I have read some of the posts on using stretch fabric cut on the cross grain (appreciated the tips on measuring stretch) but they didn’t address my questions or fabric as stretchy as mine. Any help to the following questions would be appreciated:<!—-> <!—-><!—->

1. With so much cross grain stretch should I just abandon this project and save myself some grief?<!—-> <!—->

2. If I interface the shoulder, neck and armhole areas (like a tailored jacket) will the stretch/droop of the fabric be controlled enough?<!—-><!—->

3. Would making a top/tunic instead of a dress help with the lengthwise stretch? <!—-><!—->

4. Thinking of using one of my woven fabric patterns with traditional ease because the stretch across the body would be reduced. Is this a correct assumption?  <!—-> <!—->



  1. starzoe | | #1

    The rule for stretch fabric is that the stretch always goes around the body. On occasions I have ignored that rule, but never with a fabric that had double the stretch vertically, some with good results and some with passable results.

    In my opinion your fabric would not suit a definite vertical stretch. Perhaps with some inventive seaming a jacket or top could be constructed that would be comfortably wearable. You could play with different diagonals that would show up the most attractive aspect of the fabric's pattern.

    1. FFO | | #3

      Thanks for your helpful suggestion.  I have decided to cut up the pattern and seam it to make everything on grain and make the fabric's design patterns more flattering.  Wish me luck!

  2. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #2

    1. No, do not abandon your project. You just need to do a bit more research, even as your lovely piece of 4 way stretch fabric is calling to you.

    2. Stabilizing certain areas will prevent them from stretching, and should be stabilized, such as shoulder seams. But not such as you are suggesting. It would undermine the wonderful qualities of the knit fabric.

    3. The lengthwise stretch as it is would not be that much of a concern if you think of it as you would the stretch in a bias garment, and deal with it accordingly. However, using the crosswise stretch is not a good idea. It should always be used around the body, and that much stretch would not be able to be handled and the garment would grow in length in an unflattering and unmanageable way, no matter the length of the garment.

    4. Knit patterns use the crosswise stretch of the fabric for part of the ease, or all of the ease, and are drafted accordingly. Some woven patterns can be used for knits, but I highly recommend a muslin test garment first!!!! A woven pattern often has to be cut a size or two smaller, or appears much to large.

    Although you have a fair bit of sewing experience, sewing with knits is another experience altogether. Knits are much more forgiving in the fitting department, and are sewn much differently than wovens. Once you get the idea of the differences, it is so simple, it will blow you away, tee hee hee. Even though you have fitting problems with woven patterns, why not have a look at a good basic commercial pattern such as Kwik Sew? They have excellent instructions, and excellent fitting and sizing instructions. If you go to the website first and have a look, you will see what I mean. If you also have a search through the postings here on Gatherings, you will also see some excellent advice on sewing with knits. Good luck. Cathy

    1. FFO | | #4

      Thanks for all your advice.  I have purchased a pattern for knits and will piece the fabric to make everything on grain and still have the fabric design look good on my body.  Appreciate your warnings about the fabric growing in ways I wouldn't like; it made me reconsider what I was going to do.  I am using this fabric as the 'muslin' because it wasn't overly expensive and I just want the experience of sewing on a stretchy fabric and to see if I enjoy wearing it.  If I don't like the end results, I will have gained knowledge for my next attempt and a dress for around the house. 

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #5

        Sounds like an excellent plan! As the fabric was not expensive, it is a good choice for a muslin. Have fun. :) Cathy

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