Essential Fabric Prep

Essential Fabric Prep Tip

I’ve been doing a good bit of sewing lately, and it occurred to me as I straightened the edge of some fabric that I should share this trick with you.  I’m sure many of you know to do this already.  But, not everyone sews, and I always want to show unseasoned seamstresses how to do things the easy way.  Sometimes it’s the most basic things that give you the best end results.

You know most window treatments are rectangles, right?  You may have the occasional curved edge along the bottom of a valance, but most window treatments have all straight edges.

If you begin straight, you will finish straight.  After going to the trouble and expense of making window treatments, we want them to hang correctly.  We want pillows that look crisp and not warped.

This quote shared by a friend is a favorite of mine.

Begin as you mean to end.

Don’t you love that?  It applies to everything in life, even sewing.

My tip to easily straighten your beginning fabric edge before cutting is to pull a thread across your fabric, from one selvage edge to the other.  Simple, right?

Pulling Thread

You should know by now that I don’t do anything if it’s hard.  Maybe I shouldn’t say anything…OK…much.

Find the first thread along the edge that runs all the way across the width – and pull it gently.

Cutting Line Established

With printed fabric, you will see a slight change of color along the reverse side.  See the dog print (upside down) through the fabric?  The brown background shows into the white when the thread has been pulled slightly.

Even with solid fabrics, it’s much easier to see the grain line of the fabric on the reverse side.  (Sometimes you can pull the thread completely out of the fabric, leaving a clear line that shows where to cut.)  When you get to the point where you see this pulled line easily, you’re ready to cut.

Cutting Fabric

If your thread breaks, find a thread beside it and pull that one.

Cut along that pulled line across the width of fabric, and you establish the beginning point for measuring and cutting window treatments, pillows…everything.

Straightened Fabric Edge

Then…you will end as you began…straight! 🙂

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Metamorphosis Monday


  1. Sheryll & Critters. says

    Excellent how to for starting with an even hem or line. Also you might want to instruct as to how to match up repeat prints if you have more than one panel too. This is especially crucial when buying fabric with prints …. to know before you plan how much fabric to purchase, in fact it is vital. Many a customer came in to purchase fabric without including calculations for the repeat for draperies when I ran the drapery/upholstery dept there in Atlanta. The seamstress should have told them this, but hey, they don’t always.

    • Kim Hood says

      Thanks, Sheryll. Yes, I have plans to give many tips along the way…and this will be one. Please let me know of any others you think might be important. 🙂

  2. Cheryl says

    I am pretty new to sewing and was planning on making a new pair of curtains for our guest room after the holidays. I didn’t know this little trick! Thank you! My fabric is also patterned so I would love to know how to match up the prints as mentioned by the other poster!

    • Kim Hood says

      Hi, Cheryl! I will work on posting about that as soon as I get home from my parents’ house this week. I’m glad to know specific things my readers would like to learn, so thank you for telling me. 🙂 I hope you’re following so you will know when I have the information published for you to read. Happy New Year!

  3. Jane Menges says

    Yes, your method for finding the “straight line” is simple. I have sewn for years and taken classes for the same. Over the years I have used a “T-square” unless the fabric will not tear for a straight line. Which many fabrics will not tear. That is where the T-square comes in handy.
    I place the T-square on the salvage edge near the top of the fabric. Then draw a line across the entire fabric. One may need a long ruler for the middle of the fabric but just to be sure I place the T-square on the opposite side to make sure the line meets all the way across. I do this technique often and it works for me! Happy sewing!

    • Kim Hood says

      Yes! Jane, I have used many techniques through the years, even the t-square. I also have a fold-up cardboard grid with measurements each direction, and it has come in handy. To cover all the ins and outs of fabric printed crooked and getting your lines straight with the print, I need to cover that in another post. Since things hang best when cut on straight of grain, I use this technique for most things. Thank you for your input – always welcome and helps me remember things I didn’t bring out in my post. 🙂