Thursday, June 14, 2012

Directional sewing to eliminate distortion

Do you ignore grain direction when stitching? You will probably get away with it if you are working with medium and heavy weight wovens. But if you work, like me this month, with delicate fabrics, you will want to take full advantage of this sewing method as it will help you avoid distortion and puckers. This applies to any fabric edges that are cut off-grain.


It took me a while to understand and to actually use directional sewing with all my projects. Here are two easy ways to know which direction to sew:

  • Sew from wide to narrow: the wide part of your garment piece is the strongest, because it has more thread intersections and is less likely to distort out of shape, or
  • Run your finger along the edge of the garment piece. If the threads stand out you are moving your finger against the grain; if they lie smoothly – that’s the direction you want to sew. 


...should always be done ‘directionally’. On the neckline, collar, or sleeve cap, resist stitching around the piece.

On the photograph below, I staystitched the neckline from the V-point to the shoulder, repeating the same for the other side.


A finicky fabric would also require that you follow the grain when cutting and, especially, pressing!

I am using a light-weight muslin for my flapper dress top, so I am extremely careful not to stretch out neckline and armholes when pressing. In fact, after the muslin piece was cut, I staystitched those off-grain parts and then pressed, and then checked against the paper pattern again to make sure that I haven’t accidentally stretched out any of those edges.

Do you use directional stitching in your sewing?


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