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How to Identify the Right and Wrong Side of Your Fabric: a Sewing Guide (2024)

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how to identify the right and wrong side of your fabricIdentifying the correct and incorrect side of your fabric is essential for a successful sewing project.

Look for raised textures, prints, or a shinier surface on the correct side.

Knit fabrics have more stretch and drape than woven ones.

Twill fabrics show a diagonal rib pattern on the correct side.

Cut edges curl in the direction of the correct side, while the selvage edge appears neater.

Velvet and corduroy nap directions indicate the correct side.

Consider the fabric’s intended use and your personal preference when choosing sides.

Mark the incorrect side to avoid confusion.

Ready to discover more fabric secrets?

Key Takeaways

  • Distinguishing fabric sides is like decoding a hidden code – a true test of a skilled sewer’s instincts and attention to detail. But fear not, my friend! With a bit of practice, you’ll soon be fluent in this textile language.
  • Think of the fabric as a precious gem – the smooth, shiny surface is the true beauty meant to be showcased. The rough, dull side? Well, that’s just the unpolished undercarriage, best kept hidden.
  • Imagine the fabric as a chameleon, constantly shifting its appearance. One moment it’s a crisp, tailored twill, the next a soft, flowing knit. But the cut edge curl? That’s your trusty compass, always pointing toward the right side.
  • At the end of the day, personal preference reigns supreme. That velvet may have a luscious nap, but if you’d rather rock the reverse for a unique twist? Go for it, fashion rebel! Just mark the wrong side and commit to your choice with unwavering conviction.

How to Identify the Right and Wrong Side of Your Fabric?

To identify the right and wrong side of your fabric, examine the texture, weave, and edges – the right side typically has a raised texture or print, neat selvage holes, and curls inward along cut edges. The wrong side often appears dull, has uneven holes, and curls outward.

Fabric Texture and Appearance

Fabric Texture and Appearance
When examining fabric, look for a raised texture or print on one side, which often indicates the right side. The right side will also typically appear shinier and smoother compared to the duller, rougher wrong side.

Raised Texture or Print

You’ll often find that the right side of fabric features a raised texture or print. Contrast stitching, embroidery, and embossed designs pop out, revealing the intended outer face. But don’t just judge by texture – pattern placement matters too. The right side showcases motifs and designs as the manufacturer meant them to be seen.

Dull Vs. Shiny Surface

You’ll want to examine the fabric’s surface—a dull appearance typically indicates the wrong side, while a shinier surface signals the right side. Some fabrics have a subtle sheen on the right side from the weave or finish. If the fabric label doesn’t specify, check for floats or nubs; the right side will have fewer.

Smooth Vs. Rough Feel

In addition to dull vs. shiny surfaces, you’ll want to pay attention to the smooth vs. rough feel of the fabric. Run your hands over both sides and notice if one side has:

  • A softer, smoother finish
  • A rougher, more textured feel
  • A crisp, almost polished sensation
  • A matte or velvety texture
  • An overall nicer hand or drape

The smoother side is typically the right side of the fabric. But don’t rely solely on feel – use multiple clues to confidently identify each side.

Selvage Holes

Selvage Holes
When examining fabric, take note of the selvage holes – these are the tiny holes that run along the lengthwise edges. On the right side of the fabric, the selvage holes will appear neat and smooth, often slightly raised, while on the wrong side they’ll look more uneven and pushed through.

Neat Holes on Right Side

On the right side of fabric, you’ll notice the selvage holes appear neat and smooth. These tidy holes are formed when pins hold the fabric taut during production. As you sew, keeping the neat holes facing up guarantees your seam allowance is accurate and your sewing direction is correct. It’s a handy visual cue for proper hem placement.

Raised Holes on Right Side

You’ll also notice the selvage holes appear raised on the right side fabric surface. This subtle texture difference stems from the fabrication process, where pins hold the fabric taut, creating neater holes on the intended outer side. Pay attention to details like raised printing, weave patterns, or textures—these often indicate the right side.

Uneven Holes on Wrong Side

You’ll notice those uneven, raised holes on the wrong side – a distinctive weave pattern caused by how the fabric was held during production. This uneven texture helps reflect light differently than the right side, making the contrast more obvious. Consider:

  • Fabric’s intended purpose
  • Your personal preference
  • Hole size and texture
  • Overall drape and hang

A careful examination reveals the right side for your sewing project.

Fabric Weave and Drape

Fabric Weave and Drape
When working with knit fabrics, you’ll notice the weave has more stretch and drape than woven fabrics. For woven fabrics like twill, look for a distinct diagonal pattern in the weave to identify the right side, which also typically hangs and drapes smoother than the wrong side.

Knit Vs. Woven Fabrics

You’ll also want to examine the fabric weave – knits and wovens have distinct properties. Knits stretch and may curl at the cut edges, while wovens stay crisp. Check for shrinkage, drape, opacity, and handfeel. With knits, examine threads closely; the cut edge curls toward the right side when pulled.

Twill Weave Patterns

With twill fabrics, the diagonal rib pattern often indicates the right side.

On striped or plaid fabrics, carefully note if the design looks crisper and more vibrant on one side – that’s likely the right side.

For velvet or fabrics with a nap like corduroy, gently run your hand over the surface to determine the nap direction, with the smoother, denser side being the right.

Fabric Drape and Hang

Building on twill weave patterns, you can also assess a fabric’s drape and hang to identify its right side. The right side typically hangs better and has a more flattering drape compared to the wrong side. Consider:

  1. How the fabric falls
  2. Its overall fluidity
  3. The movement when held up

A fabric’s drape provides clues about its intended use and the preferred side for the right side of the garment.

Fabric Edges and Curling

Fabric Edges and Curling
To identify the right side of your fabric, look at how the cut edge curls – it will typically curl towards the right side. Also examine the selvage edge; the neater, smoother side is usually the right side of the fabric. Be aware that some fabrics may fray or unravel more on one side, indicating the wrong side.

Cut Edge Curl Direction

One helpful technique is observing how the cut edge curls – the curl typically faces the right side. For fabrics with some stiffness, like cottons, this method works well. But for drapey, lightweight fabrics with minimal sheen, like chiffon, the curl direction may be less obvious. Either way, feeling the fabric’s texture often reveals the right side.

Selvage Edge Appearance

Another way to identify fabric sides is by examining the selvage edge. On the right side, the selvage holes will look neat and tight. But on the wrong side, those holes often appear raised and uneven. Checking the selvage can quickly reveal the right side, especially if the fabric lacks a clear texture or print difference.

Fraying or Unraveling

Look for the side that frays or unravels more easily – that’s usually the wrong side. The selvage edge on the wrong side often appears rougher or fuzzier. Pay attention to the thread count and fabric finish too; printed patterns typically face the right side. When cutting, leave extra seam allowance for the side that frays more.

Personal Preference and Intended Use

Personal Preference and Intended Use
In the realm of fabric selection, personal preference holds sway. Consider the intended application of the fabric and choose the side that best complements your project’s requirements, whether that be the smoother, more polished appearance or the more textured, rustic aesthetic.

Choosing the Preferred Side

Your fabric’s contrast in texture, sheen, and visual appeal should guide your choice. Consider the intended purpose—does one side suit it better? Ultimately, go with your personal preference for the exterior fabric look and feel. If it’s challenging to distinguish sides, choose the more appealing one and stick with that decision consistently.

Marking the Wrong Side

Marking the incorrect side of your fabric is critical to prevent confusion and guarantee sewing precision. Utilize a fabric pencil, chalk, or pins to clearly designate the incorrect side on each piece. This simple step maintains the appropriate fabric orientation, enabling you to sew with the correct sides together consistently. Marking eliminates guesswork, saving you from frustrating errors.

Considering Fabric Purpose

Once you’ve examined the fabric closely, consider how you’ll use it. Will the pattern or texture show on the outside? How much seam allowance do you need? Will you add interlining, lining, or bias tape? Here are some key considerations:

  1. Fabric pattern placement
  2. Required seam allowances
  3. Need for interlining or lining
  4. Use of bias tape for finishing

The fabric’s intended purpose should guide your choice of the right or wrong side.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to tell the wrong and right side of fabric?

Look for raised holes on the right side and pushed-out holes on the wrong side. The right side often has a crisper print or texture. If unsure, pick a side and be consistent throughout your project.

How to tell the direction of fabric?

Let’s say you’re sewing a shirt – look for the selvage edge running along the fabric’s length. This indicates the fabric’s direction, with the printed side facing up as the right side.

Where is the wrong side of the fabric?

The wrong side of fabric often has duller colors, a rougher texture, and lacks design details. Examine both sides closely to identify any noticeable differences that indicate the intended outer-facing side.

How do you find the side of a fabric face?

Sure, identifying fabric sides seems simple, but those sneaky weaves can throw you off. Here’s how: Start by feeling each side – the smoother, crisper texture is usually the right. If still unsure, check the selvage for neater holes on the right side.

How do you determine fabric sides for reversible fabrics?

For reversible fabrics, examine the texture and drape closely. The smoother, crisper side is typically the right side to be worn outwards. If unsure, choose your preferred side and stay consistent throughout the project.

What if the fabric has no discernible texture difference?

If the fabric appears identical on both sides, go with your intuition. Gently tug the cut edge – it’ll typically curl toward the right side. Otherwise, pick one side and mark it as the wrong side for consistency.

Can fabric sides be determined for double-sided prints?

Even double-sided prints can have subtle differences you’ll notice. Don’t worry – with some practice, you’ll easily discern the right side that enhances your project’s final look.

How do you identify fabric sides for unusual fibers?

For unusual fibers, examine the texture and weave pattern closely. Some may have subtle differences, like a slight sheen or raised nap on the right side. If unsure, choose your preferred side and mark the opposite for consistency.

What if the selvage holes are inconsistent or missing?

If selvage holes seem inconsistent, you’ll need to closely examine the fabric’s texture, color, and weave pattern. Look for subtler clues – one side may have a cleaner finish or tighter stitching.


Mastering the art of identifying the right and wrong side of your fabric is a gateway to sewing success. Like a skilled artisan, you’ll discern fabric nuances – texture, weave, drape, and edge details – guiding you to the correct face.

With focused practice, this wisdom becomes second nature, empowering you to confidently tackle any sewing project involving how to identify the right and wrong side of your fabric.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.