‘How To’ Get Started with Sewing: Determine the Right and Wrong Side of Fabric

Introduction

Hello everyone, it’s Corrine and this video is going to be about how to determine the right side of the fabric, and the wrong side of the fabric. So, if you are new to sewing, you might be wondering why there is a right side and a wrong side to the fabric. The right side of the fabric is the side of the fabric that will show once you have finished your project. The wrong side of the fabric is the side of the fabric that will show the seams. So, you want to decipher which is the right side of the fabric, and which is the wrong side of the fabric, so that when you make your particular project, whether it be an item of clothing or an accessory, that that project looks as great as it can do and it is showcasing the fabric that you have chosen to use.

Fabric Appearance

Looking at the appearance of your fabric on both sides is a really good way to determine which side is the wrong side of fabric, and which side is the right side of fabric. Here, I have some printed fabric and you can clearly see that the print is at the front and when I turn the fabric over to the other side, the print is significantly faded. So, with this piece of fabric, I would be able to decipher that this is the right side of the fabric, and this is the back, which would be the wrong side of the fabric. There are exceptions to every rule and you can get fabric that is printed on both sides equally as bold and bright. This is a piece of African wax print fabric, also known as Ankara fabric and here you can see that the pattern is bold and bright on this side and is bold and bright on the other side. Now, for African wax print fabric, it gets its name because of the way in which it is produced and so the surface will have a waxier look and feel, which is a little bit difficult for me to show you on this video but you might be able to see it has a waxier look. It’s 100% Cotton but it has a waxier look and feel to it. Whereas if I put it over to the back, the look is not as waxy at all, nor is the feel. It’s a little bit coarser in texture but again, that can be difficult to ascertain if you aren’t used to using such fabric. So, I will go down to the selvedge at the bottom, which I talked about in the last video, which is the bound edge of the fabric, and you can see some writing here on this selvedge. If I flip it round, the writing on the selvedge is now running backwards in the other way. It’s now back to front. So that tells me that this side is the wrong side of fabric, and this side here, where the texture, the feel is waxier and shinier, and the writing on the selvedge is facing the right way round, this is my right side of fabric.

Fabric Texture

Using the appearance of your fabric to determine the right or wrong side of fabric isn’t always easy and that is definitely the case when using plain coloured fabric, or also known as solid colours. So I’ve got a pink here and you cannot decipher whether it’s the wrong or right side just by looking. It is nigh on impossible. There are a few techniques that I use. Firstly, I will have a feel of the fabric. Sometimes you can feel a slight difference in the texture, so that it will be smoother on the right side of the fabric and it will be coarser on the wrong side of the fabric. However, this isn’t always the case.

Colour Saturation

Also, when you look at the fabric, sometimes you will find that the right side of fabric has a deeper colour than the wrong side of the fabric, which can look slightly paler. Again, that is not always distinguishable. So, what I would suggest is that you pick a side, you stick to that side consistently and then that’s what will be shown when your project is complete. It is sometimes really difficult to figure out the right or wrong side for a solid, and there’s really not an easy answer for that.

Selvedge Construction

Now, this next bit of information regarding the selvedge and using it to determine the right of wrong side of fabric can be a little bit controversial and spark debate amongst sewists. Now, some say that if you run your finger along the small, punched holes in the selvedge and it feels smooth, the it’s the right side of the fabric and that if you turn it over and the punched holes are raised and feel rough, then it’s the wrong side of the fabric. There are others who will tell you that it’s the complete opposite. So, if you run your finger along the punched holes and it feels smooth that it’s the wrong side of the fabric, and if it feels rough then it’s the right side of the fabric. Personally, I’ve found this technique to be inaccurate. I have purchased fabric and found that the punched holes on the selvedge are smooth and it’s the right side of the fabric, and I’ve also found that the punched holes on the fabric selvedge are smooth and it’s been the wrong side, and vice versa. So, I find it to be inaccurate and no longer use it in order to determine the right or wrong side of fabric, particularly when trying to decipher this for plain coloured fabric, which is also known as solids.

Fleece

Fleece can be difficult at times to determine which side is the wrong side  and which is the right side of the fabric. Here, I have some Sherpa fleece and this is  easy to distinguish between the right and wrong side. Here, I have the right side of fabric, which is lovely, soft and fluffy and then, when I open the fabric up, you can see the wrong side. Another way to determine what is the wrong side of fabric and the right side of fabric for fleece could be to stretch it. I’m curling it from here, giving it a slight pull and it’s rolled over to the wrong side. Curling it from here, and its rolled over to the wrong side. So it’s just to prove to you that this is the right side of fabric and this is the wrong side of fabric.

Knit, Satin and Velvet

With regards to knit fabric, you can use the same technique of stretching it either sides, and when you stretch knit fabric, it rolls over towards the right side of the fabric. If you were using fabric such as satin, with satin you will have a sheen on the fabric which is the right side and underneath it will be a dull look, and that would be the right side. For example, Velvet. Velvet, you will feel the pile of the Velvet, it feels fuzzy and hair-like and you will move it one way and it will feel smooth, and then you will move it the other way and it will feel rough and then that would be the right side. Then the wrong side of it wouldn’t feel that way at all, it would feel very different, you’d feel the coarseness and it would just be a consistent feel at the back of the fabric, whether or not you moved it up, down or side to side.

Fabric Shop Storage

Another way to determine the right or wrong side of a fabric is to have a look at how it is stored when you go into the shop to purchase it. When your fabric is being displayed, the right side of the fabric is what will be displayed because when you go in to a fabric shop, they want to showcase the fabric in its best light and they will always be showing you, on the bolt, the right side of the fabric. When getting your fabric cut from the bolt, what you could do is ask that it be written on the selvedge which side is either the right side or wrong side of fabric and this way, it will really help you and that there will be less investigative work, and you will easily be able to determine which side is which.

Summary

I really hope that you have found this information useful. Please don’t worry if you’re struggling to find which is the right or wrong side of the fabric. If there is no distinguishable difference, even if you’ve tried some of these techniques – which do get easier to decipher with time and easier to use – sometimes it’s difficult when you first start. To know which is the right side and wrong side of fabric, even if you use these different techniques I’ve talked about. Just pick a side! You choose a side that you feel comfortable with, that you think looks great and that you want to showcase for your particular project. Use the same side so that there is consistency in the way in which your project will look and you can’t go wrong. I hope you found this useful. If you have any questions, please do comment below and I will answer.

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