What To Do When Your Fabric Is Crooked

How to Correct Crooked Fabric (5)

Wonky Fabric.

Has this ever happened to you? You roll out fabric for a new project and the pattern on the fabric is wonky…as in uneven, not straight, crooked…wonky.

Cut fabric as is with a crooked pattern.
Cut fabric according to the pattern and run the risk of the curtains not hanging correctly.
Straighten the wonky fabric.

How to Correct Crooked Fabric (8)

When I unrolled this fabric for a client the pattern was off kilter by about an 1″. This may not seem like much but even an inch can effect the look of a finished project.

How do you determine if your fabric is wonky?
Look at the pattern across the width of your fabric. If the edges of your fabric are laying straight on your cutting board but the pattern looks like it’s “walking” uphill/downhill you have a wonky pattern.

Does it really matter if the pattern is wonky?
Maybe not. If you’re cutting out a pillow top or other small project you may be able to work around it. You can still cut your pattern out straight.
But if you’re using the entire width of fabric for a valance or long panels, once your window treatment is completed you may be able to see your pattern “walking” uphill or downhill. Especially if you’ll be sewing several widths of fabric together and trying to match up your pattern repeat.
Not a good look. Not to mention annoying.

This particular fabric has a printed selvage. The selvage is an often white edge running along both sides of the fabric that was produced during manufacturing that prevents the fabric from unraveling. The selvage will often include the name of the fabric, manufacturer and other markings.

How to Correct Crooked Fabric (7)

If you have a printed selvage look for the + sign. You will find this marking on both sides/selvages of the fabric.

How to Correct Crooked Fabric (6)

Line up the + signs with the same marking on your cutting board.

How to Correct Crooked Fabric (8)

This is what happened when I lined up the markings for this fabric. It happens more often than I’d like and can be quite a nuisance. If your fabric is woven this can be corrected by simply stretching the fabric diagonally.

How to Correct Crooked Fabric (4)

Determine which direction your fabric needs to be stretched in order to correct the wonky pattern.

How to Correct Crooked Fabric (3)

Begin stretching the fabric diagonally along one side…

How to Correct Crooked Fabric (2)

…and work your way across the fabric to the other side. Sometimes it takes more than one stretching to correct an uneven fabric.

How to Correct Crooked Fabric

Here you can see the fabric is almost straight. Not perfect but much closer than it was before.

What if you don’t have a printed selvage?
Many fabrics will not have a printed selvage edge with markings to line up your pattern. In this case you simply have to choose a point in your pattern and line it up on your cutting board.

How to Correct Crooked Fabric (12)

This fabric is for three matching valances. With such a distinct pattern I wanted each valance to be identical but the pattern was not straight. Not as much off as the above fabric but still enough that the pattern was going to be uneven on the valances.

I picked a spot within the pattern and lined it up on both sides of my cutting board.

How to Correct Crooked Fabric (10)

Here you can see this fabric had to be stretched the opposite direction from the above fabric in order to correct the pattern.

How to Correct Crooked Fabric (9)

I began stretching the fabric on one side and worked my way across to the other side. I then repeated the process with each piece of fabric until they were straight.

How to Correct Crooked Fabric (11)

This isn’t a fun step in the sewing process but occasionally necessary.

And if you’ve ever made new curtains and realized the pattern was crooked after they’re finished and installed…you know what I mean. Not a good look. 🙂

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15 Responses to What To Do When Your Fabric Is Crooked

  1. Cynthia says:

    That red fabric is gorgeous!!! Can’t wait to see what you are doing with that and I have noticed that when I bought fabrics to use for projects. Of course not sewing, no clue how to do that, LOL!


  2. Sherry K. Martin says:

    Thank you so much for all the sewing tips and advice !!! You never know when you may need to put this great advice to work!! I can hardly wait to see the finished product , or the still in progress anywhere in between!. Thanks again Sonya for sharing your tips! Have a blessed day!<3

  3. Never would have thought to stretch it, Sonya. Good tip. That’s a beautiful red toile fabric. Do you have the name of it?

    • Sonya says:

      Thanks, Kathy!
      The red toile is called Country House Toile in red by Waverly. You can find it at Online Fabric Store.

  4. Wow, this is such a great tip, Sonya!

  5. bj says:

    Hi, Sonya…I was lost for a bit…I had to start a new blog and have a new address:
    Hope all is good in your world.
    Going to look in your shop and see what’s new. 🙂

  6. bj says:

    …having a little trouble with checking out in your shop. I get to one page and don’t know where to go from there….? Thanks for your help. Remember, I wanted that flag pillow last year..I’m getting it now. 🙂 Is there a companion pillow that matches somewhat?

    • Sonya says:

      Hi, bj
      I’m so sorry about the issues with The Shop. I’m working on getting these recent kinks worked out. I’ll email you. 🙂
      Feel free to email any Shop orders or questions to sonya {at} beyondthescreendoor.com

  7. Stacey says:

    I don’t sew but I’m certain that this detail is one of the reasons your work is so beautiful. You make sure it’s right!

    I’m happy to see that red fabric because I have it in my bedroom. I have the full set of duvet, pillows, curtains, etc. Keep thinking I should change because I’ve had it several years but it continues to be popular.

    • Sonya says:

      Hi, Stacey. I recently used this same fabric to duplicate the kitchen curtains I made for you for another client. The “Poppy” fabric we used on your curtains was unavailable. They turned out beautifully! It seems it’s still a favorite!

  8. Suzi says:

    Now you have me wondering about the + signs on the selvage. Is there another purpose for them, like can you line them up in order to cut straight across the fabric? I often cut the selvage off with the color dots when I am matching fabrics as I have read that all the colors in the fabric are represented by those dots.

    • Sonya says:

      Hi, Suzi! Yes, in a perfect situation, if you line up the plus signs on a marked cutting board you should be able to cut a straight line across your fabric and the pattern will be straight. I always double check this by looking at all three points…making sure the selvages are straight on my cutting board, the plus signs line up and my pattern is straight. Otherwise you have to do the little trick mentioned above. 🙂
      And yes, it is best to cut off the selvage before sewing your project but wait until you’ve determined that everything lines up correctly before cutting.

  9. Wow, thanks for sharing this, I didn’t know it or about stretching the fabric. This is great info, I would try “reripping” to even out, sometimes worked, others not! I’ve pinned this to my “sewing” board. Have a great day!

  10. Pat says:

    Even though I used to sew a lot, I never knew this. Very interesting! Thanks so much for sharing ~