When cutting out patterns, many people use the fabric’s selvage as a guide for pattern placement. In woven fabrics, this is often a good guide. Place your pattern with the grain arrow parallel to the edge of the fabric and you are (in the case of good quality fabric) ready to cut.
With knitted fabrics, that may not always work as well. The reason is that many knits are created on machines that knit the fabric in a big tube:
On occasion, I have tubular knits at Gorgeous Fabrics that are straight off the machine.
Once the tube is removed from the knitting machine, a worker cuts it open so you get the flat fabric we see in fabric stores. And have you ever noticed on some knits, especially rayon jerseys, there are dabs of dried glue running along the selvages? That’s because the edges curl along the cutting line, so the glue keeps them flat.
Sometimes these cuts are not done along the grain of the fabric. Even in really high quality knits, the grain can be askew to the edge of the fabric. So rather than using the “selvage” (which this really isn’t, if you think about it) of a knit to gauge the placement of your pattern, I prefer to fold my pattern piece along the grain line and lay it so the line runs along the ribs in the fabric. This will guarantee that your fabric hangs properly. Here you see a picture of my pattern placement on a wool jersey.
Notice that the top of the grainline is significantly farther away from the cut edge than the bottom. By checking this on all my pattern pieces, I avoid the twisting and discomfort that would ensue if I just blithely measured from the edge of the fabric.
It only takes a few extra seconds to do this, and the results will be well worth it!