Click to Read MoreWe all know how important grain is in our diet, and grain is equally important in sewing. Grain is the gridwork of threads running lengthwise and crosswise that make up fabric. Just like oatmeal is a breakfast basic, grain is a sewing basic.

Click to Read MoreWe all know how important grain is in our diet, and grain is equally important in sewing. Grain is the gridwork of threads running lengthwise and crosswise that make up fabric. Just like oatmeal is a breakfast basic, grain is a sewing basic.

There’s really is not much you need to know about grain, other than you need to pay attention to it when you place your pattern pieces for cutting. If you are haphazard about grain, your finished project will show it.

When you look at your fabric, you’ll see the crosswise edge where scissors were used to cut your yardage from the bolt. The lengthwise edge is called the selvedge edge. The selvedge is usually a bound edge and does not fray. It often contains information including: manufacturer and designer name, marks to indicate the repeat of a print (helpful with large prints in figuring out how much fabric to buy) and even color dots that show the colors used in printing the fabric.

Interesting side note: Fabric designers are now designing cool decorative selvedge edges. I’ve seem them used very effectively as design elements in sewing projects, in the same way you might use a decorative trim.

Know Your Grain

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There are three types of fabric grain:

Lengthwise Grain: Sometimes referred to as grainline or simply grain, lengthwise grain refers to the threads that run lengthwise and parallel to the selvedge edge.

Crosswise Grain: Crosswise grain refers to the threads that run parallel to the cut edge of the fabric (the width) and perpendicular to the selvedge edge.

Bias: While not technically a grain, it is the 45-degree angle between lengthwise and crosswise grain. Fabric cut on the bias is stretchy, and often used for covering piping and cording and in apparel projects where you want a soft flattering drape.

Placing Pattern Pieces

Grain comes into play when you lay out your pattern pieces for cutting. When you see printed arrows on a pattern piece indicating that it be placed on a fold line, be sure your fabric fold follows the grain. Pattern pieces that are not cut on a fold line usually have an long arrow printed on them that is used to align the pattern piece to the grainline of your fabric. It only takes an extra minute to get this right. It’s worth every second of it. Now, eat your oatmeal.

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