I thought I was going to be sick watching my sewing instructor rip four inches off the entire length of my Alexander Henry fabric. At eight dollars a yard, I had splurged with my financial aid money and bought three whole yards of the black "Los Novios" print. I wanted to be sure to have enough in case I screwed up the first class sewing project (a skirt) and 'cause I thought it was a cool fabric to start my collection as I returned to the fashion program for the second time.
The instructor held out the long, wide strip of torn fabric and said, "You can use some of that for the waistband later." I wanted to tell her we could clothe an entire third world village with what she handed back.
As the instructor was shredding my fabric, she rambled on about whole-grains and weft, waft, paddywhack and truing the material. Apparently she had 'trued' my fabric for me and I should thank her. But when I asked her WHY she had done so, she just looked at me as if I were dense. "Because it has to be trued before cutting." Ah, thanks for the clarification! When I left the program a few months later, I attempted to keep sewing at home. I'd grab a piece of fabric, tear off the top like it were a fresh-sealed package of Foster Farms lunch meat, and believed it was good to go — for the truth had set it free!
Sewing at home lasted for all of about two seconds. It was too frustrating not knowing what the hell I was doing the majority of the time. Unlike knitting and crocheting, sewing doesn't click with me as easily — it's a challenge. But everything I really want to make requires sewing. And here's the good news: I really love everything about sewing. So this year I made it a resolution to build a solid foundation on which to sew properly. And that is why I set out to finally, truly, learn to true up fabric.
Like many of you, I would follow the common pattern instruction to fold the fabric selvage-to-selvage to get that center fold, lay out the pattern pieces, and cut way! And even though I knew I was stitching the most perfect straight lines, I always came out with something that just didn't seem to hang right or the print seemed askew. That's because I never knew to true up (also called square up) is necessary to re-align the fabric when it comes off the bolt. I'm not even going to attempt to explain it in my own words, 'cause I'm still catching on, but I will say this: I did it a couple of times on Saturday and I can honestly see a major difference in my sewing!
The following links of videos and photo tutorials use rotary cutting tools. I am NOT a fan of the tearing, ripping, teeth-chewing method — that whole ordeal from six years ago traumatized me. As someone who grew up with very little money and is still on a fixed income, I simply cannot feel good about wasting several inches of fabric when there is a much easier way that allows you to cut away exactly the amount needed to square up the fabric (I found it to be about a total of 2 inches or less — although, I'm sure it will vary as I work with more material ).
A Thread From the Edge: Square Up — Why to Think Twice Before Buying A Quarter Yard
Living with Punks: Tutorial — How to Square Up Fabric For Cutting
DBeerDesigns: Trueing Up Fabric and Cutting Strips
shiny happy world: How to Use Rotary Cutting Tools to Square Up Fabric and Cut Strips
Stay tuned as I stay true to my goal of learning to sew!