Trudy's Articles of Interest


How Much Fabric Should You Buy?

 Have you ever come across a fabulous piece of fabric and knew exactly what you could make with it…but you didn’t have the pattern with you or you didn’t even have a pattern yet.

Here are some general rules you can apply to help you calculate  the correct yardage.

These calculations are approximations, so use common sense.  If the design has some unusual detailing, buy some extra.  If you fall in the “larger size” category, add a little more when purchasing  150 cm wide fabric.  When using  115 cm wide fabric, you are already using twice the length of the garment!

 Copy this chart and take it with you when you go shopping! Some of my students even laminated this chart  and leave it in their purse (good idea)   

Buy with Peace of Mind





Fabric width –115cm  (45”)


Fabric Width – 150cm  (54”)




2 times length of blouse plus 1 times length of sleeve plus 20 cm for cuff and collar (average 2.2m)

1 times length of blouse plus 1 times length of sleeve plus 20 cm for cuff and collar (average 1.6m)




2 times length of dress plus 20cm for collar and hem (sleeves will fit next to back and front pattern) (average 3m)

1 times length of dress plus 1 time length of sleeve plus 20cm for hem and facings (average 2.3m) (straight dress)




2 times length of pants plus 30cm for hem and waistband (average 2.7m)

1 times length of pants plus 40cm for waistband and hem (average 1.8m)

Larger women need 1.5 times the length plus 40cm (average 2.5m)




2 times length of skirt plus 20 cm for hem and waistband (1,4m for short,

2.3m for long)

1 time length of skirt plus 20cm for hem and waistband (larger women need 2 times length of skirt plus 20cm for hem and waistband)




2 times length of jacket plus 1 time length of sleeve, plus 30 cm for hem and collar (average 2.3m)

2 times length of jacket (sleeves will fit next to back and front pattern) plus 30cm for collar (average 1.8m – 2.0m)


 Peace Rose



Cutting a garment out of Denim or Twill.

Have you ever had the problem of fabric twisting when folded double?

You can not get it to work      

This will happen with certain types of fabric, most likely with denim or twill. And not every denim or twill will twist either!  You will not see it when purchasing the material either, since the fabric is nicely folded in the factory and every thing looks fine…..till you wash  and dry it!

Before you wash and dry, one should straighten the fabric by tearing the fabric across (or pull a thread to find the straight of the grain), then serge or overcast. Now you are ready to wash and dry the fabric. After this is done you are ready to place your pattern on the fabric. Guess what? Your fabric might not line up any more when folded double! Nothing was done wrong, it is the weave of the fabric!!

The most common weave is called ”basket weave”. This means one thread under, one thread over. There are of course lots of other types of  “weaves”, such as with satin. Satin shines because it goes something like this: length wise threads go over 5 cross wise threads and under one, 5 over, 1 under etc. The next row shift one thread and then again 5 over and 1 under 3 etc.

In the “twillweave” the formula is different in going over and under and how much the next row is shifting. Anyhow that becomes too complicated to figure out when you are in the store buying the fabric.

You can, however, straighten your fabric, by folding it double and forcing it with you seam iron to lay straight.

Guess what again?

The moment you wash and dry your garment, the whole garment will twist. Have you not experienced this with bought jeans?

So now what do we do?

Here is what I do and it worked well for me!

After washing and drying your material, smooth out with your hands or when wrinkled press it .

Fold double (self edge to self edge).   

When the fold twists, shift the top layer till you have a smooth fold. You will see that either the self edges do not match (diagram # 2)or the raw edges are (cross grain) are not matching see diagram # 3. Yet sometimes everything matches. With twill or denim one never knows. Whatever you do, do not force it!


If you have lots of fabric, cut it in stages. For instance when you need two pant lengths, cut one length at the time, than refold the fabric, so you do not loose too much fabric on the side (diagram # 4)   

If your denim is still stiff and wrinkled after first initial wash, wash again but now use only one cup of fabric softener, NO soap, this will make the denim a lot softer and easier to work with.

Knit fabric:

Knit fabric will react the same way as the denim and twill I just described.

If this happens, cut the knit as follows;

Striped fabric: Make sure the stripe match at the bottom of the T-shirt, no matter what the straight of grain is!


Prepare your fabric for good results!

You cut your pattern double, yet your seams aren’t always even!   Why?

Have you ever had trouble matching your seams? You cut very precise and yet there is a difference in length. Very frustrating isn’t it?   I’ll try to shine some light on why!

When starting a new sewing project, you should ask yourself the question if you are going to wash the garment yourself or if you are going to send it to the Dry-Cleaners.

Of course you pre-wash and dry your fabric before you start your project if that is what you are going to do afterwards.  Sometimes the label on the fabric bolt says, “Dry-clean only” and yet it is for instance a rayon fabric (which is washable).  However the manufacturer protects himself by telling you to dry-clean.  Use your own judgment and if you think you can wash and dry it, buy 10 cm (4”) extra and try it. I would wash and dry rayon on a gentle cycle because rayon gets weaker when it is wet and can shrink quite a bit. It can also wrinkle quite a bit when the dryer is too hot!  Be careful!

Of course I also get some students who wash everything under the sun and will even want to wash a suit jacket or blazer they just made.

Not anymore! (after I have read them the riot act!)  I mean, if you sweat for a long time to make a beautiful tailored jacket, you are not going to wash this yourself and ruin it.

How would you press this lined, tailored garment and get the same result as before?



Should you send your nice woolen fabric to the dry-cleaners before you start to cut?


Perhaps yes, perhaps no! Here again use your own judgment. I would make the choice as follows:  For most woolen fabrics of 2 – 2.5 m (2.5 – 3 yards) long, I would pre-press it myself. For fabric longer than that and perhaps heavier (for a winter coat) I would send it to the dry-cleaners.  But in all cases, make sure your fabric is pre-pressed on both sides!

This is where the secret lies! Just think of a “hairy, sticky” fabric, such as flannelette, woolen tweed or wool flannel. Before placing the paper pattern on the fabric, you smooth out the top layer, right? However the bottom layer might not be as smooth (you can’t see). Do we get the picture? So you cut the pattern and think that everything is

”honky-dory”.  Not so!

Here is how you should adjust:

Cut your fabric pieces out. Take the paper pattern off the fabric, but leave the fabric pieces the way they are (double). Now you press the fabric pieces smooth on both sides (but leave double). For wool you can use a damp press cloth (see end of article). If there is a difference between the top and bottom layer after pressing, place the paper pattern back on the fabric and re-cut, so they are now completely equal. The discrepancy will not happen all the time, but it will not hurt either to check it anyhow!

Can you visualize that if, for instance, the side seam is not even (back slightly longer than the front) and you are trying to match top and bottom of garment (make it fit by easing in one side), your side seam will not hang straight? The side seam will twist towards the front. If the front was longer than the back and you eased-in the difference, your side seam will curve towards the back.

How should you fix this problem if it still happens? It shouldn’t, but hey…. fabric has a mind of its own too, sometimes! (it could happen for instance with a bias cut skirt, one side is length-wise bias, the other could be cross-wise bias)

Take out the side seam, clip the skirt or dress onto a skirt hanger and let it hang the way it wants to hang. Now you pin the side seams again and if it is a bit un-even at the bottom, so what? Cut it off (after you checked if they now hang straight), nobody will know! However they will see if the side seams aren’t hanging straight!


Pressing your wool fabric!

 These days, most woolens are easy to press and don’t cause any problems. However there are a few woolen fabrics that need some attention!

For instance wool Flannel, wool Cashmere and some heavier coat fabrics that have a soft, almost fuzzy surface. You don’t always see it, but you can feel it.

Of course it has been pressed nice and flat with an industrial presser in the manufacturing plant. However when you press it with your steam iron, it might show some dark spots here and there. This is because wool comes of course from sheep. Sheep have natural curly hair and the same thing happens with their hair as with ours. If we straighten our curly hair, the minute you wet it, it curls again.

So where the steam hits the fabric, it will curl or kink again. In that spot, the light will  hit and break the surface differently and will look darker in colour. In that case you have to press all the fabric pieces single with a damp press cloth. Hold the pressed  piece in the light and see if it is even in shading. It is much worse if you find out after you finished your garment that it is “blotchy” here and there. Than it is much harder to fix. This is one of the reasons I send my heavy coat fabric to the cleaners to have it steamed. Still check a little corner of your fabric before you start sewing. Some fabrics are stubborn!


Note:  Of course you have to straighten your fabric before you start cutting.

Pull a thread at least at one end of your fabric and start to place your pattern pieces there.


Next month I’ll talk about “straightening denim, twill and knit fabrics.

Hope you enjoy the column. There will be a new one every month. I will appreciate your input and/or questions. Feel free to e-mail me at



Is there a safe and easy way of ripping a seam? I am scared to use a seam ripper!

There are of course several different ways of ripping. None of them are pleasant and all of us sewers have most likely (definitely) lots of experience!

Here is how I do it:

In delicate fabric, I use my seam ripper (sometimes called "stitch-ripper") and  slide the sharp point of my ripper under a thread and cut one stitch. Pull the seam a bit open, so you can get hold of the short end of a thread. Pull  the tread hard, so it breaks. On the other side of the seam, grab the broken end of the thread and pull again (hard). The harder you pull, the more stitches come loose. Keep on pulling the thread back and forth on either side of the seam. Once you get into a rhythm it will go pretty fast. This is actually the safest (not the fastest) way and can be used on any type of fabric.  

Another way is of course using the seam ripper! Important: A dull seam ripper is far more dangerous than a sharp one! Change your seam ripper regularly! You can use this method for most type of fabrics!

How to use a seam-ripper is another story!

Have you ever wondered why the seam ripper has that little ball on the short end of that little knife? Well..... let me tell you: Many, many years ago when I was ripping (and not very successful, including a big nice slash from "Seam" the Ripper!), my husband, very matter of fact, asked me why I thought they put that little ball on the end of the knife? "Turn it upside down" he said, "so the point cannot slide into your fabric!" That made me not very happy. First of all I had a hole in my garment and to make matters worse, "A MAN" had to tell me how to use MY sewing tools! I have been doing good in the "Ripping" department ever since. However no matter how easy it seams, always be very careful.   



Trudy Jansen Design©

266 Birch Park Estate

Sherwood Park, Alberta