Cutting Fabric Using a Crosswise Fold Layout

What’s a crosswise fold layout? All it means is that you’re folding the fabric width-wise instead of lengthwise. Instead of folding your fabric selvedges together forming a long narrow fold, you’re folding your fabric raw-edges together, forming a wider, shorter piece.

Why would you need to use a crosswise fold layout?

  • When you’re using really narrow fabric
  • When you have very large pattern pieces
  • When the fabric cutting layout asks you to

It’s easy to do! It helps if you have a large table or cutting surface. My cutting surface has actually gotten smaller since I moved to the office, that’s the only thing that’s hard to do here. I can either cut on my desk, or put the sewing machines away and use their table, which is what I’ve been doing most often.

First, straighten the edges of your fabric.

Next, fold the newly-straightened ends together, forming a big loop of fabric. The selvages should be meeting on both sides of this fabric loop, there should be two raw edges at one side, and a crosswise fold at the other end.

I tried to take photos of this in action, but they weren’t clear at all! So I made a mini demonstration with a small piece of fabric.

Here’s a regular folded piece of fabric, selvedges together:

And here’s the same piece of fabric, folded crosswise with the raw edges together:

Makes sense, right? See how the dimensions change from long-and-skinny to short-and-wide? Easy!

Sometimes you’ll want to turn the bottom layer of fabric, so it runs the same way as the top layer. Right now, our top layer is going one direction, and the bottom layer is going the other direction. This would be really obvious if you had a one-way design, like people. All of their heads would be one way and their feet the other way – and reversed on the bottom layer!

It’s easy to fix that, though. Simply cut the crosswise fold, and turn the top layer 180 degrees so it’s going the same direction as the bottom layer.

I didn’t do that for the Lonsdale Dress cutting layouts, because this dress is not suitable for one-way designs. They simply eat up too much fabric!

Of course, rules are made to be broken, so if you want to use a one-way printed fabric, go for it! I’d suggest bringing the pattern pieces to the fabric store and making a quick layout on your chosen fabric to determine how much extra to buy.

Any other questions on cutting with a crosswise fold layout? Leave a comment below!


13 Responses to Cutting Fabric Using a Crosswise Fold Layout

  1. Kathy July 30, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    I have a piece of fabric that my daughter bought for me in Indonesia. It has a pattern along the selvage. I want to cut the skirt pieces so the pattern is along the hem, so I guess I would lay my skirt pieces along the selvage. Is this correct? But after I cut those pieces, do I refold my fabric selvage to selvage for the remaining pieces? If not, how do I make sure it is on grain? I’ve never cut pieces other than the traditional way, so I’m sorry if this is obvious.

  2. Kathy July 30, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    I found another piece of fabric, but it is 36 inches wide. Do you know how much is needed in about a size 10 in 36 inch fabric? Thanks.

  3. daiyami July 30, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    Question (just curiosity, not need)—if you can cut the fabric in half and rotate one side to match direction, why should a one-way fabric take any more yardage than without nap? Wouldn’t that use exactly the same amount? Or are there places the fabric would run crazily on the finished dress?

    (I have sewn things just crossing my fingers that the fabric was too busy for people to notice I ignored nap (including most of my Lonsdale), so thanks for the excellent cut-and-rotate tip!)

  4. Bella July 30, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    I’ve used this technique for speed/strip quilting& it works best with fabric that’s been recently ironed; edges seem to line up better.

    Thanks for a cute idea & great examples!

  5. Volute August 1, 2011 at 3:31 am #

    Hi Tasia,

    It may be a silly question but… the 1.5 cm seam allowance is included, isn’t it?

  6. Tasia August 2, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    @Volute: Yes! Seam allowance is included. 1.5cm or 5/8″, whichever measuring system you prefer!

  7. Tasia August 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    @Kathy: Hi Kathy! It sounds like you have a border-print fabric – where there’s a print along one edge of the fabric. In that case, lay out the pattern pieces so the border is at the hemline. This may not be the best pattern for a border print, as the hemline is curved. You will get to see more of the border print if you use a pattern with a straight hemline!

  8. Tasia August 2, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    @Kathy: That’s a good question! You’ll need more fabric than what’s required for 45″ wide fabric. It’s hard to say exactly how much you’ll need, as it depends on the exact width of the fabric. To be extra sure, I’d suggest making a quick layout using the pattern pieces – take a piece of fabric you already have, and fold it so it’s 36″ wide, then use this folded piece to lay out your pattern pieces, and measure the amount you need. Hope this helps!

  9. Tasia August 2, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    @daiyami: In theory, if you laid all of your pieces facing the same way, you’d be fine! In this case, I have the skirt pieces facing different ways in the cutting layouts to save fabric. One faces down, one faces up. So even if your bottom layers were laid the same way, your skirt panels would still be cut different ways! (I just mentioned that in case you’d seen it somewhere else, or wanted to use this cutting layout for other projects.)

  10. Nina November 29, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    I have the same problem as Kathy. I’ve got a piece of fabric with a scalloped edge that runs along the selvedge. If I want to use the scallops as the hem of my dress, it means ignoring the grainline on the pattern and cutting crossgrain. But I’m worried about draping and all the issues that come with ignoring the grain. Is there any way I can get the scallops on the hem or should I just resign myself to putting the scallops along a centre seam or something?

  11. toni Smith January 4, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    Thank you Thank you from the bottom of this budding sseamstresse’s little heart!

  12. Moana Turner June 3, 2014 at 1:08 am #

    Once you have turned the fabric and cut the fabric on the cross fold, how then do you lay the pattern so that you are cutting on a fold?

  13. Diane Hanson April 22, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    I need that last question answered about laying the pattern so that you are cutting on a fold. I have something that needs to be on the fold….Thanks in advance for answering.