Is it okay to have a trim company cut a roll of fabric in (say 4″ strips) lengthwise (as opposed to cutting across the width of the fabric) for the purpose of ruffling (bottom of dresses and pants.) This would serve to eliminate lots of seams which could end up in unsightly locations as there might be a seam every 15 yds instead of every 44″ (the fabric is 44″ wide, 100% cotton poplin.) The question is, since fabric shrinks most notably on the grain-line, would this be a problem upon washing or does the ruffling cancel this out so as to make it a non-issue?
Rephrased: she wants to know if the roll can be cut jelly roll style for the ruffles and whether the effects of shrinkage will be noticeable considering the ruffle gathers. For purposes of illustration, I had a sample garment handy that has a ruffle sewn to the bottom (shown at right). By the way, that ruffle is not cut on the bias, that is a print.
Below is a cut to the chase explanation on the matter of directional shrinkage (previously mentioned in the entry about my pet peeve on waistband cutting):
In the crud drawing below on the left is a sample cut jelly roll style. Off to the right are the grain lines shown in relationship to how the pieces will be joined.
In other words, the ruffled area will shrink more than the area onto which it will be sewn. This will have the effect of drawing up, creating puckers on the upper portion of the garment where none are intended. Below is a photo that illustrates this. Again, the ruffle below is not cut on the bias, that is a print.
As you can see, the area to which the ruffle has been attached is drawing up and forming puckers. This is only apparent after the garment has been washed because the ruffle, while attached, is shrinking at a greater rate than the piece to which it was sewn. [Note: the manufacturer of this dress added a row of trim; perhaps it was an attempt to hide the puckers?]
As far as what you should do, this is best answered by the quality level dictated by your price points. If you’re making little sundresses that will only be worn by a child for a season, you can probably get away with cutting the ruffle trim jelly roll style. However, if this is an adult’s garment and intended to perform for a longer period of time, you’re better off cutting the ruffle left to right across the width of goods. While more time consuming, piecing it in 44″ sections is technically the best and correct way.
Caveat: as with waistbands, nearly everyone seems to be cutting trims jelly roll style so consensus would likely say I’m too picky.