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Don’t Buy Garments Cut...

Don’t Buy Garments Cut Off-Grain: But, I Got It on Sale …

The outfit was reduced to such a low price that if I left it in the store it would have been a crime!

There wasn’t another one like it, so I knew that if I didn’t buy it right then, it would be gone.

It goes with everything I own.

Been there, done that.

If the garment was cut off-grain, they should have paid you to take it out of the store, because it will never hang right.

Okay, so what does off-grain mean? Remember back to kindergarten or first grade when you learned to weave paper baskets? A series of lines were laid down vertically, each the same distance from the one before it. Then, you took other lines to be laid horizontally. On the first horizontal line—you would go under the first vertical and then over and then under until you had reached the other side. When material is being woven the vertical threads are put in the loom first, then the horizontal threads are woven under and over the vertical threads. When the thread or wool veers off the straight line and tilts to either the left or right, all the consecutive lines of thread will follow the trend and the fabric is off-grain.

However, a piece of a garment can be cut off-grain from a perfectly straight fabric. Every pattern or template has a line indicating the “straight edge.” That line has to be matched up correctly to a vertical thread in the fabric. This is done most easily by folding the fabric in half with the selvage at the open end of fold.

Then the pattern is laid on the fabric, the tailor or seamstress makes certain that the top and bottom of the “straight line” are even with the selvage.

In these days of mass clothing production, where they are made at the lowest possible price, corners are cut to use ever inch of fabric. In order to do this, some productions shops have been known to place a piece of the pattern off-grain (not straight) to squeeze piece of the garment out of a bolt of fabric. This is becoming more and more of a problem.

While the rest of the material of the outfit may be perfect, the one off-grain piece (sleeve, front or back of top, pant leg etc) will never hang right.. Nothing can ever fix it—put the outfit back on the sale rack. Do not buy it. I know it’s truly a heartbreak, the outfit was so pretty. If still tempted to buy ask yourself, “Do you really need another garment that will hang at the back of your closet unworn?”

Unfortunately, once the material has been cut incorrectly, the garment is doomed. If you know the symptoms, it’s easy to diagnose the cause.

A skirt that is designed to hang evenly droops in one spot

The material in the leg of a pair of pants seems to twist ever so slightly to the left or right.

One side of a neckline of a shirt, blouse or top doesn’t lay flat against your body

A cowl neckline seems heavier on one side than the other.

Plaid prints that are suppose to be straight up and down but aren’t

If you have a question about whether the piece of clothing is cut off-grain, look on the reverse side of the material where it is frequently easier to see the actual threads.  Are they woven horizontally and vertically, or do they start tilting mid-way through the piece of clothing? When in doubt, put it back.

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