Saturday, May 22, 2010

45” fabric ???

Whatever happened to 44” – 45” wide fabric? I’ve put in some sewing time this week and had the occasion to follow directions that called for a cut of fabric that measured 41-1/2” of fabric across the width. I had to cut into part of the selvage to get 41-1/2” of fabric in that cut!

Now, this was “Quilt Shop” fabric. As opposed to “Big Box Store” fabric, which tends to be not as generous in their widths. Altho, some of the big box stores are carrying some high-end fabric and things are getting better on that front.

Being a quilter, I generally take big pieces of fabric and cut them into small pieces and then sew those small pieces into big pieces. I usually buy a little more fabric than my design calls for. And if sewing something created by others, I generally buy a little more, too. Doesn’t hurt to “feed the stash”. Plus, most times, I buy Fat Quarters. So, I really don’t concern myself with width of fabric. I buy what fabric grabs my heart, my senses.

Unless I am designing a pattern. Then, I am concerned with fabric width and that’s another story.

I wondered if other fabrics in my stash came close to being 44'” – 45” wide. Well, after measuring several fabrics from my stash – I did not have any that measured 44” wide. None at 43”. None at 42. I lucked out to find 41-1/2” wide fabric! That’s not anywhere near 44” – 45”! Karamba!

I went to to see if the newer patterns compensated for these narrower fabrics.


Nope, they were still using 45” as a “buyable” width. Even if you could buy 45” wide fabric, that width would include the selvage.

I went into EQ to see on what fabric widths they were basing their “yardage to buy”.

yardage EQ had a 44” wide option. But, NOT a 45”. They must have measured their fabric, too! They also have 42” wide as an option. I use the 42” width for determining fabric yardage in EQ.

Now, why would a pattern company such as Simplicity still hold onto the notion that there is 45” wide “usable” fabric in the width? Never was. If fabric were 45”, that would include the selvage – selvage is NOT usable. With clothing patterns, you follow their directions to place your pattern pieces on the fabric and generally they don’t give you much “wiggle room”. And if that wide sleeve butts up against another pattern piece on a narrower width of fabric (less than 45”), you WILL have to piece that sleeve in the underarm area. Been there, done that.

I don’t think I have any 44” wide usable fabric. Do you?


Sunnie said...

I think the bolts still say 44/45" but they certainly are not that wide.
When I design a quilt I figure the yardage on 40" wide fabric, as do most designers now (well, the ones who are trying to give you a usable pattern do!). It's better to cut an extra strip than have that last little square missing.
Even AQS says in their book proposal guidelines that authors should figure on 40" wide fabric.
So...who is old enough to remember when the clothing patterns had lists for 36" wide fabric????

Virtual Quilter said...

I think I might have some 45 inch fabric, but it has been around a while, (like about 1985) and only 44 inches were usable after selvedges were removed. I use EQ to work out fabric requirements and set that at 40 inches long ago.

And message for Sunnie .... I remember dressmaking fabrics being 36 inches wide, and the way things are going it won't be a memory for much longer!

Judy B

Pat said...

Judy B - I never thought of it that way -- and I'm sure you're right, they will probably give us 36" wide fabric, once again! Me - I just love the concave bottoms in the peanut butter jars -- as if we can't see that they're giving us less product for the same amount of money!