Naming Names: Grains and Threads

Taking a break from the wedding posts this week. So when you're sewing you should really get to know your fabric. With almost any project it matter where the grainlines are. So here's a wonderful (yes, my computer design skills are amazing!) diagram!

The red lines (well dark red/ brown in most of the pictures) are called the weft threads. They go parallel to the selvedge. The green lines are the cut edge. These threads are called the warped threads. They go perpendicular to the selvedge

The yellow line is the bias grain. This is the in between the warped and weft threads. The bias is not made up of threads. This is where there stretching happens. Cutting fabric on grain is cutting along the warped or weft threads. The weft threads run along and create the lengthwise grain. The warped threads run along and create the crosswise grain. Have you ever had a shirt that's side seams twist so the shirt doesn't hang straight? That's because the shirt was not cut on grain or was cut off grain.

When you purchase fabric, make sure it is woven straight. Fabric that's weave is off will produce off grain projects! Sometimes you can tell when you follow the warped threads to see if they fall straight. Sometimes it's just a trial run. Cutting a fabric on grain is easy once you get the hang of it. Typically the selvedge is a good starting place (if the weave is right.) You can use this as your guide of where the lengthwise grain is. Before you cut something out for a project, I like to cut off the selvedge. This is the most basic and I think the easiest way.

Another way to get a fabric on grain especially if the cut edge is crazy is to find the lowest point in the edge (like if it dips, find the part that goes farthest into the fabric.) From there you can pull the thread that is running parallel do the edge. With some fabrics, you can pull this thread out of the fabric creating a small gap. Then, using that gap as a guide, line it up with a ruler and cut it using a rotary cutter. If you're dealing with tighter woven fabrics you probably can't do that.

You can also snip a small cut into the fabric and then rip the fabric and the fabric will naturally rip along the same thread. This may distort your fabric.

You can cut something on the bias as well. In that case, you would still want to make sure your lengthwise and crosswise grains are where you want them to be so you can line up your bias grain correctly and most importantly cut it straight.


Diana said...

I love it when you take sewing because I get to learn stuff, too.

Jordan McCollum said...

I've wondered why some shirts's side seams twist! Though mine are mostly knits, I'm sure it's the same principle at work.

Jordan McCollum said...

Shirts's? I lose the day.

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