When you’re working with printed knit fabric, it’s a good idea to check to see what the fabric looks like when it’s stretched out. Sometimes a printed pattern on a knit can look distorted or overstretched. Below is one of the Tee pattern pieces positioned on printed knit fabric. The grainline is parallel to the selvage edge. Let’s take a closer look at the fabric to see what happens when it’s stretched along the crossgrain… Which in this case, would be the stretch across the width of the pattern piece.
Here’s a close-up of the same fabric…(Sorry for the color variation, I took these pics quick with my iphone). Notice that when I stretch out the fabric, the print gets distorted. There a breaks in the color that make it look like it’s stretched out too much… If you cut out the Tee pieces as shown above, this stress would show up on your finished garment. One of the most likely places that this could show up is across the bust… yuck!
Another thing to consider is the orientation of the print itself. When the pattern piece is positioned with the grainline parallel to the selvage, the print is wide… meaning that it has more of a horizontal look to it than a vertical look. Now let’s look at the fabric when the pattern piece is positioned on the fabric with the grainline perpendicular to the selvage… Notice how the print has a more vertical look. This will give the Tee a more slimming look!
Now let’s check how the printed pattern looks when it’s stretched across the lengthwise grain.
I can really tug at the fabric along the lengthwise grainline and the pattern stretches with the fabric without appearing over stretched. … Coupled with the benefits of the vertical appearance of the print when the pattern pieces are positioned with the grainline perpendicular to the selvage, this is definitely the way I’d vote to cut out the pieces!
This type of distortion does not appear on all knit fabrics. Plus, some knit fabrics do not stretch in the lengthwise direction, so it’s good idea to do a quick stretch test before you lay out your pattern pieces!