Going against the grain…HELP

I need help folks. Seriously.

A couple of weeks ago I went on the rampage at Walthamstow market, scoring metres upon metres of fabric at dead cheap prices, and lamenting the limitations of the human body. 2 hands only? I asked myself. Who can get by with only two hands when fabric shopping? No seriously, I want you to answer that.

Some of the fabric have already seen the light of day here and here. I also chanced upon some stretch cotton fabric with a border print going for £1/metre, and true to form, ordered 3 metres of each available colourway.

It was only when I went home that I noticed the placement of the print. It was only on one end of the lengthwise grain. 

So this is how it is:

I normally only buy 2 metres of any fabric, but at £1/metre, what did I have to loose? The idea I had in my head when I was wobbling under the weight of 3 bolts of fabric en route to the cutting master at the fabric shop, was to make cute little summer dresses with interesting borders. I am not sure how to achieve that now.

Ideally, I would have wanted the pattern on the dresses to go something like this:

This would however mean cutting the fabric on the crosswise grain.

Now, I know it gets drilled into us by the big 4 pattern companies, and other sewing maestros, that fabric should be cut on the lengthwise grain, but in this case what would YOU do?


I found this old article from Threads Magazine, which gave me hope. The author of the article recommends rebelling once in a while. Is this a right time to stage a mutiny folks. I must point out I am no stranger to rebellions, having spent a large part of my youth writing lines when I was in boarding school. Mind you, I don’t think writing lines as punishment did anything to me. The only thing that suffered as result was a reduction in letters to my family and friends.

I suppose I could make one with the border running lengthwise like this Phase Eight dress. What say you?

Women's Black Kimono Border Print Dress

I would be happy for some suggestions please or if you have gone against the grain before, could you share your experience ?

A bientot……



  1. May 22, 2012 / 8:54 am

    Go for it! If it doesn't work in the first colour way you haven't lost a lot

  2. May 22, 2012 / 10:30 am

    It would be a shame to waste such pretty fabric, but I'd say give it a try! Maybe add a little ease to compensate for the lOSS of the crosswise grain?

  3. May 22, 2012 / 11:04 am

    I often make clothes cut on the cross grain (usually because I don't have quite enough…), and it usually works quite nicely. The major issue for the fabric you show would be the direction of the stretch turning lengthways, where it could perform interesting stretching where you might not want it, and you would have to cut out the dress with sufficient vertical ease for a non-stretch fabric. Could you make the fabric more stable by underlining then treat as a non-stretch woven? I would wash the fabric first and be prepared for experimental results. I love the lengthwise border dress though, what a good idea.

  4. May 22, 2012 / 1:15 pm

    I believe it is common practice to cut border prints on the cross grain, I don't know why it beaten into us to only cut on the straight grain. I have cut on the cross grain a few times and honestly haven't noticed any difference at all. Many years ago Threads did a very detailed article about border prints and how to place them on garments, it was an eye opener. If you would like a copy of the article email me at ellecsews (at) gmail (dot) com and I will copy it and mail it to you. I am in Canada so it won't get there quickly, but it will get there.

    Those prints are gorgeous, I can see why you bought them. I am suffering from fabric envy.

  5. May 22, 2012 / 2:53 pm

    Oh my god, I would DEFINITELY go against the grain (literally!) and cut it the way you want to – especially when it was so cheap!!!

    P.S. I was a boarder too!

  6. May 22, 2012 / 5:49 pm

    I have been requested by a message on my blog for the issue # of Threads that that had this article, so in case someone else wants to know it is issue 64, April/May 1996. page 46 through 50.

  7. May 22, 2012 / 8:37 pm

    You see the upside of being up half the night being screamed at is that you have this thing that you push in front of you and hang ALL of your shopping bags off. The bigger they get the more shopping you can hang.

  8. May 23, 2012 / 6:40 am

    Cut it on the cross grain. I've done that a couple of times lately and honestly not noticed a difference in the finished garment. Lovely fabric, by the way!

  9. May 23, 2012 / 11:49 am

    I recently did two dresses from the same pattern, one cut lengthwise and one cut crosswise because of lack of fabric, and I don't see any difference (yet). Unless there is one-way stretch, I think it should work out fine. I never understood why all border prints are printed this way!

  10. May 23, 2012 / 9:32 pm

    Go for it! At £1 a metre it's worth a go.

  11. May 24, 2012 / 1:13 pm

    It all depends on the direction of the stretchiness of the fabric. You might find that it wants to stretch out along the side seams if you cut it "the wrong way round". But you could add a line of woven tape along the seams to stabilise it. But as others have said, at £1 a metre it is definitely worth the risk! Try it with one piece first?

  12. May 24, 2012 / 6:51 pm

    I agree with Roobeedoo. I like the fabric .. is very cute and summery x

  13. May 26, 2012 / 10:57 am

    Lovely fabrics! I have cut a few dresses on the crossgrain (usually the skirt parts when I didn't have enough fabric otherwise) and haven't noticed any untoward effects yet. The cross grain does have a bit more stretch, so you may have to adjust the size a tad.

  14. Anonymous
    August 23, 2012 / 3:26 am

    You might find that it scrunches up (gets shorter) because of the stretch. Maybe cut one piece and see what happens?

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