Do you wash all the fabric you buy before working with it?
Fabric manufacture includes processes resulting in a finished fabric, which should not shrink appreciably if correctly laundered. A raw state fabric from a natural fibre, like the knitted silk noil I bought recently to make tops, hasn’t undergone the dyeing and finishing process and will almost certainly shrink . Some natural fibre fabrics shrink over several or many washes, (typically cottons). I pre-washed the noil and I’m prewashing black denim bought for jeans from Fabricland. It has shrunk a little, but not appreciably over the 3 metre length. I’m making up this pattern first.
It makes a garment which is smoother under close fitting tops than typical jeans because the zip goes in the side, the shaped waist lies flat and there are no pockets. If it were tighter and made in a jersey it would be leggins. The denim I’ve purchased has some 2 way stretch in it, good for this pattern. I’ll keep you posted about how it makes up.
Obviously, RTW manufacturers don’t launder thousands of yards of fabric. They often wash test the sample garment to see if the fabric is suitable before ordering for the full run.
Most fabrics from man-made fibres don’t shrink. Shrink testing by taking a measured square of a decent size (at least 6 inches) and laundering this instead of the whole length is a good alternative.
Another argument for washing yardage is that it might not be clean enough to work with. Certainly, some stuff I’ve purchased from a market stall has spent time in a warehouse, been chucked in a van and stacked on the pavement without any protective cover.
Have you ever bought wonky fabric?
This is much harder, sometimes impossible, to correct. When fabric in the finishing stages of manufacture has been stretched so that the warp and weft are no longer at right angles to each other, or the knit runs across at an angle, it’s a bad bet. Wovens which have a slight distortion can be brought back with the aid of a helper ( three helpers for wide fabric). Each person grabs the piece near the selvedge and tugs opposing the direction of the distortion until the fabric straightens up, finishing with a good pressing . Knits – no chance.
Clothes made from distorted weaves invariably distort in wear. Who hasn’t ended up with a twisted jeans or wonky T-shirt purchase? Inferior fabric or bad pattern lay is responsible.
The most critical part of the cutting out process is making sure the pattern grainline is running parallel to the warp. If you run short of fabric and want to risk a compromise, don’t mess with the grainline on the major pieces.