Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The SoChick Chick's Guide to Fabric [Part 1: Fabric Grain]

Pin It

Why a Guide to Fabric, you ask?  Simple, when you are starting on a journey it is nice to have a map to help you get from point a to point b; when you know where your headed and what to expect, you can spend more time enjoying the journey instead of having to stop along the way to ask directions.  In short, if you know what's up about fabric, the time you spend sewing with it is going to be much less frustrating, and that much more enjoyable! 

Remember that this is a guide, and as we get into tips and tricks, I will be sharing info that I have found to be most helpful in my sewing journey.  Each of us has a way and a style that suits our sewing needs.  As your love of sewing grows (and it will) you will find your own way and style of doing things... this is merely a jumping off point.

Also, for the most part, this Guide covers working with Quilting Cotton, though other types of fabric may be thrown in for good measure. *wink*


Part 1: [Fabric Grain]

When working with fabric, I feel that it is super important to know about fabric grain and how it may affect the outcome of your sewing project.  So, I have decided that this will be the starting point for this Guide to Fabric.

Fabric Grain is as important in quilting as it is in garment sewing, as it is in handbag & accessory sewing!  Basically, fabric grain is the way threads are woven in a given piece of fabric, or yardage of fabric.

Elements of Fabric Grain:

Lengthwise Grain: aka Warp These are the threads that are secured to the loom first and run through the length of yardage on a bolt of fabric, also called Warp threads. These threads run parallel to the fabric's selvage. They have little to no stretch.

Crosswise Grain: aka Weft These threads are woven back and fourth along the Warp threads to create the fabric; they run perpendicular to the Selvage.  Because these threads are woven along the lengthwise grain, they have a slight amount of stretch to them.

Selvage:  This is the tightly woven edge of the fabric that runs parallel to the lengthwise grain and consists of approximately 1/4 - 1/2 inch along both sides of the fabric.  Often you can find the manufacturer, fabric designer, and color information printed along the Selvage of Quilting Cotton.

Bias: The Bias runs at a 45 degree angle of the Lengthwise and Crosswise Grains.  Cutting on the bias allows for the most amount of stretch in the fabric, which is especially helpful for quilt binding, piping and anything else that needs movement (think flowing skirts and ruffles).

When looking at the wrong side of the fabric,
you can clearly see the warp and weft threads.
**Cutting on the Lengthwise or Crosswise grain is called "Cutting on grain" or "Cutting on the Straight-of-grain" .  Many commercial patterns will direct you with an arrow, or some form of marking, when you need to line the pattern piece up with the fabric grain.

There are some sewing crafts where it really doesn't matter how you cut your fabric or if it is on grain.  It is important in quilting and garment sewing because how you cut your fabric can greatly alter your project, especially once it has been machine washed.

For bag making, I always cut my fabric on the straight grain.  It is important that fabric for straps and handles is cut on grain, this allows for even wear and prevents stretching and twisting.

Lengthwise Grain has the least amount of stretch:

Crosswise Grain has a little more stretch:

Bias cuts have the most stretch:

**Knowing how much stretch each grain allows will help when going through scraps whose selvage has been cut away.

That should do ya for today's fabric guide... next, I'll talk about cutting fabric and how to be sure you are cutting true to grain.
Have a fabulous day!

XxOo~ Melissa


  1. This was really informative! Thank you for sharing. :)

    1. I'm glad to hear it! :-) The series will continue on Tuesday next week. Have a great weekend, chickie! XxOo~M

  2. Great! I have so many questions & things I want to learn about. How about I feed you ideas and you keep this series going for about three years? ;) 156 posts should probably get me up to speed.


Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts, this chick LOVES hearing from you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...