When you’re getting dressed, you have clues to help you figure out whether or not your clothes have the right side facing out. Tags, labels, buttons, zippers, and seams are some of the ways we know whether or not our clothes are inside out.
When you’re working with fabric in a sewing project, it’s important to be able to tell the difference between the right and wrong sides of the fabric.
Why It Matters
Laying out pattern pieces, marking fabric, and even actually sewing, directions often refer to the right side and wrong side of the fabric.
Look at a few directions I pulled from a pattern I have:
- Fold fabric right sides together and pin the pattern to the wrong side of the fabric.
- Pin pattern to the right side of the fabric.
- Lay one piece of tracing paper FACE UP under the WRONG SIDE of fabric.
- With right sides together, pin sleeve to armhole edges…
Without knowing the difference between the right and wrong sides of the fabric, sewing would be very frustrating. Who knows how a project would turn out!
How to Tell the Right side from the Wrong Side
Woven Fabric with Printed Designs
It’s usually easy to tell the difference between the right and wrong side of a woven fabric with a design or pattern printed on it. The colors on the right side are brighter. The wrong side of the fabric looks like a faded version of the right side.
Designs Woven in the Fabric
Some fabrics, like plaids and gingham, have different colored lines woven into the fabric. When fabric is woven this way, there isn’t a difference between the right and wrong sides. Both sides are identical.
Caution: Some plaids and gingham can have the lines printed instead of woven. If you come across one of these fabrics, there will be a definite right side with colors that are brighter than on the wrong side.
Batik is the name of a process for making designs on woven fabric using wax and dye. Batik is also the name of the fabric that is made from this process.
Because the fabric is dyed all the way through, there really isn’t a right or wrong side.
Solid Color Fabrics
Some solid color fabrics have a definite texture on one side, like velvet and corduroy. Usually, the side with the texture is the right side.
However, it may be more difficult to determine the right side from the wrong side of fabrics that don’t have a noticeable texture.
When you compare both sides of a woven fabric that doesn’t have much of a texture, there may be a slight difference in the weave (like in twill) or both sides may look identical. This depends on how the fabric was woven.
Either way, it may be obvious which side is the right side or you can decide based on how you want the finished project to look.
Mark One Fabric Side
If both sides of the fabric look almost identical it’s important to mark either the right side or the wrong side of the pieces you cut, especially if you’re making clothing or other projects with pattern pieces.
Marking the fabric helps you keep both sides of the fabric straight as you lay out the fabric, pin pattern pieces, and construct your project. As a result, the finished project will be consistent on the outside.
Marks can be made with tailor’s chalk, pens/pencils that disappear with heat or water, or even a regular pencil.
If you mark the right side, you’ll need to make sure the marks will come off the fabric.
You don’t need to worry about removing marks on the wrong side because they won’t be seen.
Regardless of the fabric you’ve selected for your project, make sure you pay attention and follow directions related to the right and wrong sides of the fabric.