Fabric Sides: How to Identify Right and Wrong Side of Fabric

People may not like that standard, but right and wrong apply to just about anything you do in life. Even with fabrics, there is a right side and a wrong side to the material. Knowing which is which will make your sewing life easier and help you create wonderful fashions.

It is not always easy to find the right side and tell it apart from the wrong side of the fabric. Especially when the fabric pieces are pocket size or smaller. One way to tell if you are on the right side of the material is to look at the fuzz. The wrong side has more of it than the right side does.

Tip 1: The right side of the fabric may be as smooth as the wrong side but it will contain less fuzz than the other side.

To learn more about telling the difference between these two sides, just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to help you sew with the right side showing and hide the wrong side from the public’s view. If you do not have a lot of time, use our tip sections to speed up learning how to tell the difference between the right and wrong side of a fabric.

Tip 2: when you look at materials to buy, wool and rayon materials are always folded with the wrong side facing out.

What are The Sides of Fabric Called?

The term to describe the right side of the fabric is obvious and very practical. It is called the face as it faces the public and seen by everyone. We did not find such a practical term for the wrong side of the fabric except that both are called front and back, with the latter term for the wrong side.

Just so you know, there is no official rule stating that only the right side of the fabric is to be facing the world. With many fabrics, the wrong side is as pretty, etc., as the right side and you can sew those fabrics with the right side hidden with no problem.

It will be up to you how you finally sew the material. If there is a difference it would not be advisable to hide the right side. You will want to make the best impression possible so go with the tradition in those situations and keep the right side showing.

Tip 3: Cotton fabrics are normally folded with the right side facing out.

What is The Right Side of The Fabric?


That is a good question especially when those fabrics you are looking at seem to have the same brightness, appearance, and style. The right side is called the right side as it usually is the prettier or printed side of the material.

You may notice that some of the fabrics have a bright pattern on one side and a duller one on the other. The dull side is the wrong side as it does not usually look as nice as the right side. Also, the dull or wrong side of the material may not have any print to it at all. It is just one solid color.

Then the material may have stitches or finishings on one side that should not be seen. Those are indications that you are looking at the wrong side of the material. If both sides look good and are absent of those signs hen you can use either side as the right side.

Tip 4: All woven fabrics do not have what are called floats or yarns which are not used to interlock the design on the wrong side.

How to Tell the Right Side of Fabric

Solid colored fabrics may be really difficult to identify the right or wrong side of the material. There is a way to tell but it does not come from looking at the fabric and seeing the difference in brightness. The process of making the material will help you see which is which side.

Normally, fabrics are put on rollers to go through the different parts of processing. Those rollers leave tiny little holes on the fabric. The good thing about those holes is that they come from the wrong side and punch through on the right side. The holes will feel smooth on the wrong side of the fabric while the holes will feel rough on the right side.

All you have to do is let your fingers do the walking and check the texture of the holes. But this may not always be the case with all fabrics.

Tip 5: if you find loose yarns on the napped fabrics then that is the right side of the material.

Textile Used On Wrong Side of Fabric


The term textile does not usually mean another large piece of fabric sewn in to hide the wrong side even further. Although it could be as lining is a textile and it is sewn on the wrong side of any clothing item.

The textile we were thinking of is called interfacing. These little pieces of fabric help give shape and body to your sewing project. The interfacing would have to be of the same weight as the fabric or you may have some problems with drape.

Interfacing goes on in different ways and which one you attach to the wrong side is up to you or your sewing pattern. Another word for interfacing would be stabilizer. These materials help keep your fabric looking its best as well as soft and smooth next to your skin.

They are also not that expensive to purchase. They come in handy when the material doesn't co-operate with you during the stitching and cutting phases of your project.

Tip 6: The right side of the twill fabric will run down and toward.

Right Side of Fabric On Bolt

One way to tell is as described previously, use your fingers to search for the tiny holes. Once you find them, feel their texture and the wrong side will be smoother than the holes on the right side. But there is one word of caution here. When you wash the fabric, you generally lose that help.

When you are at the fabric store, one general rule that is followed is that the store wants to put their best face forward. In other words, they will arrange everything, including their fabrics, with the best side showing. Look at how the bolt is displayed for clues as to which is the right or wrong side.

If the fabric is folded then draped over the end of the bolt, it means that the right side was folded so that it is on the inside of the material.

Tip 7: if it is so hard to tell which is which, pick one side and remain consistent in using the same side of the fabric. Don’t switch back and forth.

Which Side of Fabric do You Sew On?


The best way to say this is to sew towards the front. That means your knots remain hidden as do other rougher stitch marks. The front is the right side of the fabric so you should be starting from the back and heading to the front.

But not all stitch styles operate in the same way. When you are stitching binding you should machine stitch the front then hand stitch the back. There is a learning curve when it comes to the stitching as not all sewing projects will be the same.

Leather is one of those fabrics that is not stitched in the same manner as other fabrics. It takes a lot of work to get the material prepared for the stitching. Plus, you need some special tools and supplies to mark where those stitches go.

Tip 8: Once you have determined which is the right or wrong side or have simply picked one side over another, mark what you have made the wrong side on all your pieces to make sure you do not get confused and lose which is which.

What Side of Fabric do You Pin the Pattern To?

This may be the simplest direction to give and follow. All you have to do is fold the right sides of the fabric together and pin the pattern to the wrong side. Unfortunately, not everything is clear cut when it comes to pinning patterns.

Some patterns will have confusing instructions and first state that you pin the pattern to the wrong side, then the very next instruction is telling you to pin the pattern to the right side. When in this situation it is best to pin the pattern where it best matches itself.

Then, there will be those that disagree with this and tell you to always pin the pattern to the right side as that is the easiest way to match the pattern. If you pin the pattern with the instructions facing up on the wrong side you will have a better and simpler time marking your darts, etc.

If this is confusing, follow the directions found on your pattern.

Tip 9: If you are working with solid colored fabrics, there is really no right or wrong side.

Which Side of Fabric is Selvage?


First, selvage is the American way of spelling the word. The British way of spelling the term for this part of the fabric is selvedge. You may encounter both spellings at some point in your sewing career.

Second, the selvage is the thickly woven piece of the material found at both sides of the fabric. Third, you will notice that it is on both sides of the material. That is the part of the fabric that receives the holes when the material is on the rollers being processed.

If you are using the selvage to identify the right or wrong side of any material, check the holes. The wrong side will have smooth holes and the right side will have rougher ones.

Which Side of Felt Fabric is Up?

Since felt is a solid fabric, it may not make much difference which side goes up and which side goes down. A lot will depend on your preference and the purpose of the felt. Some people prefer the rounded side of felt to go up and the sharp side to go down.

But you have to be careful when sewing with felt as mistakes, like bad stitches, are hard to erase or fix. Then if felt gets stretched too far it will lose its shape and your sewing project will be ruined.

When you are working with felt it is not so much which side is up but what its purpose is. If there will be too much pressure put on the felt material, then find a substitute fabric. Or if the felt will get too close to heat sources, it will melt and your item will be ruined.

Is There a Right and Wrong Side of Fleece?


Yes, some fleece materials do have a right and a wrong side. One of the ways to tell which is which is to hold the material by the horizontal cut edge and pull gently away from the center of the material. The cut edge will curl to the wrong side of the fabric

It is not always easy to determine which is the right or wrong side of fleece but your hand will help you find it. Rub both sides and the nubby side will be the right side while the smooth fabric will be on the wrong side.

But blizzard fleece will be smooth on both sides. Telling the difference is not going to be easy and you should know the material you are working with before you get started. That will help speed up the process.

How to Tell the Right Side of Upholstery Fabric

If you are looking at the material from an upholsters sample, usually, the right side is marked and you should be able o see the difference between the two sides. The fabric store is another issue altogether.

When at the fabric store, lay the material flat and use your hands to feel both sides. If your hand feels a little sticky surface on one side then that is the wrong side of the material. Or you can use a magnifying glass and examine the looser threads. The wrong side will have longer threads than the right side.

Then if all else fails, you can check the holes in the selvage. It will be the same here as it is for other fabrics. Feel the texture to tell you the difference.

Right Side of Linen Fabric


The easiest test to use to make this determination is to pinch the fabric at one of the corners. Use your thumb and forefinger to do this. Pull firmly after you have gotten a good grip. If the fabric curls to one side then that is the right side of linen.

There is a bit of good news here. Linen is one of those fabrics where you can get away with using either side. So if you cannot tell which is the right or wrong side, pick one and stick with it. Don’t forget to mark the wrong side of all the pieces so you do not flip the material and make a sewing mistake.

How to Tell the Right Side of Knit Fabric

It may or may not be easy to tell which is the right or wrong side. In today’s world, people are not caring as much about right or wrong sides as they want to use the fabric in unique and innovative ways.

Some knits have equal sides meaning you won’t be able to tell. Then other knits will have a float thread and most people consider that the wrong side of the fabric. Then if your knit has a pattern check the brightness of the pattern. The duller side will be the wrong side of the material.

Right Side of Wool Fabric


There is no real special technique reserved for wool. The how to’s discussed already will help you with this material as they would with the other fabrics. Look for the selvage holes and feel which one is smooth or rough and turn the fabric over to the side you need to have facing you.

Then, check the brightness of the color, the pattern, or the threads. The duller the color the wrong side is showing. It will take a little practice but you will get the hang of identifying which side is which.

Some Final Words

Finding the right and wrong side of any material will depend on the purpose of the project and how you want it o look. Follow the how to’s given above and you should be able to identify the two sides fairly quickly.

Practice makes perfect and will also speed up the identification immensely.

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