May 14, 2014

Sewing Basics: Grain of Fabric

Getting started in sewing can feel a little overwhelming. I'm still learning how to read patterns and often prefer to come up with my own design. But whether I am following someone else's directions or my own, there are some things to know before cutting out a pattern.

You've probably heard the terms grain and selvage.  Fabric works best when it's cut correctly in relation to the grain, so this is how to find the grain. 

Selvage edge
First, fabrics usually come in 44/45, 54 or 60 in. widths. They are measured from selvage to selvage. Selvage is the finished, uncut edge of fabric. If you've purchased fabric with a print, you might notice a white strip along the edge with all the info and coordinating color circles along the edge. Or there might be tiny holes along a solid colored fabric. This is the selvage edge. 

The grain of fabric refers to the threads used to weave the fabric together. 

The straight, or lengthwise grain runs parallel to the selvage. Sometimes it is simply referred to as the grain. The threads running in this direction have been pulled tightly while the fabric was woven, so it doesn't have much stretch. 

The width is called the crossgrain. It runs perpendicular to the selvage and has more stretch. 
So if you purchase a yard of 45 in. wide fabric, you will have a cut piece that measures 1 yard (36 in.) in length and 45 in. in width. Okay, one more. 

Bias is cut at a 45 degree angle to the grain (straight) or crossgrain of fabric. There are no threads woven in this direction, so cutting along the bias will give you the most stretch.

  Hopefully this will get you started, either in reading patterns or creating your own!