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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I Need HOW MUCH Fabric???

We've gotten several emails recently about our fabric requirements that are posted in our patterns.
If you're new to CKC patterns, or new to sewing in general, you'll need a little more information than just the fabric chart before you go shopping.

Here are some things you need to consider:
1. How wide is the fabric you are purchasing from selvage to selvage? Wovens generally run anywhere from as small as 36" to as large as 46".  Knits generally run anywhere from 48" to 60" wide. The width of the fabric you are using can make a huge difference in the amount of fabric you will need for your project.

2. What is the print like? Is it a directional print?  A directional print is a fabric printed with a design that has an obvious direction to it, often a motif that has a definite "up" or "down." Typically, you can use a lot less yardage if you use non directional prints because you do not have to lay the pattern piece down a certain way to make it work, making it possible to squeeze more in per yard.

Chevron- a directional print

3. How many different prints are you planning on using? If you are sewing a stripwork or patchwork pattern, or one with a pattern piece that is repeated like Aylah's or Victoria's, you need to remember that the more prints you choose, the more fabric you will have to purchase. Often, when you use multiple prints, you will have enough scrap left over to make one of two more dresses with the same yardage you already purchased.

4. Does the pattern have to be cut out on the grain line? If it does, it will say so on the pattern piece. Not cutting on the grain line when instructed will result in twisting/ distortion of the fabric when sewing. If you have to cut on the grain line, you may have to use more fabric. Wovens have a lengthwise grain and a crosswise grain.

When we write our fabric requirement charts, we write them worst case scenario for the four factors listed above, so you will never come up short. There is nothing worse than ordering fabric and getting halfway through cutting your project only to realize you don't even have enough to make the item. What you really should do, if you want to have very accurate numbers, is to actually print out your pattern piece and lay it out on another piece of fabric with the same width and orientation as the one you plan on purchasing and figure it out by hand.

So, here's an example for you. Above are the Fabric Requirements for Victoria's Skirt. Let's pretend I am making a size 7/8. This says I need 1/2 yard for each swirl and that I need to multiply that by the number of swirls (14). That means I would need 7 yards of fabric to make this skirt. Is that accurate?

First, I'm going to print out my pattern piece. I'm printing 2, but only because it will make it easier for you to see what I am talking about.

 This pattern has to be cut on the grain line. Pretend my cutting mat is my fabric and the left/right edges are my selvage. Either orientation will work, one lies on the crosswise grain, and the other on the lengthwise grain. However, the piece on the left is approximately  15.5" tall  x 12.5" wide and the right is approximately 12.5" tall by 15.5" wide.

Let's look a few different ways to lay this out on my fabric.

Non directional print 46" wide- 1/2 yard fits 3, just barely!

Non directional print 46" wide- 1/2 yard fits 3 easily!

Directional print 44" wide- 1/2 yard only fits 2

So, pretend I want to use these two fabrics to make my skirt. I need 14 swirls total: 7 of the directional and 7 of the non directional. Let's figure out how much fabric I really need to buy. 

Ugh, did I mention I hate math???
Ok, here we go....

Directional- I can only get 2 per width and I need a total of 7.
So, that will be 4 widths which will leave me a little extra. How does that compute in yards of fabric to purchase? My pattern piece can only go in one direction (see above photo) because otherwise the dragonfly will be upside down. The piece is 12.5" tall. I need to multiply that by 4 to find out how many yards to buy. I need to buy 50" of fabric. I think I'll get 1.5 yards to allow for shrinkage. 

Now, on to my second print...

Non Directional- I showed you above in the green photos that either way I place my pattern piece I can get 3 per width on the non directional print. However, I can even squeeze in one more as long as I keep the pattern pieces aligned with the grainline. 

See that? I can actually get 4 pieces across. Imagine there is one more piece above the one on the right, just like the one on the left. 

So, how much do I really need? 

Let's figure it out. 

This configuration is 18.5" tall and I get 4 per width, so I need 2 widths to get my 7 swirls. I need 37" of fabric, so just over one yard, and I'll buy a few extra to allow for shrinkage. This configuration uses the least amount of fabric, the other 2 use 37.5" (very close, only off by 1/2") and 46.5". 

Now that I've done the dirty work, I can go shopping. I need 1.5 yards of my directional print, and just over a yard of my non directional print. Wow, I'm glad I took the time to figure this out, because otherwise I would have 4.5 extra yards of fabric! 

 If I had chosen to use more prints, I would need more fabric. If both my prints were directional, I would need more fabric. And if my width from selvage to selvage was narrower, I would need more fabric. That's why the fabric requirements chart shows the worst case scenario, just to make sure I'm covered!

Don't forget to really look at the pattern measurements and pieces before purchasing fabric.

Happy Fabric Shopping!

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