Have you ever seen a piece of cloth that has threads running loose from the sides? It’s a stretch of imagination how millions of those delicate pieces of yarn are woven together to make such a tensile piece of cloth. Amazing, isn’t it? How those easily breakable threads combine to make up such a firm cloth is beyond my mind. The reason lies in the way and direction these threads weave together to make up a cloth.
Last week I was lucky enough to visit a textile mill, and that is where I learned for the very first time about the ingenious way in which those vulnerable yarns are woven together in a crisscross fashion. And that is precisely what gives the cloth such durable, tensile strength. I learned a lot about the grain and grainline of the fabric. So I decided to share my experience and knowledge with you guys.
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Grainline Of The Fabric
Definition of Grainline of Fabric
Now, you must be wondering what grainline is. Right? Then let me enlighten you. Grainline is a simple term used to describe how the grains, i.e., fabric yarn, are woven together or simply the direction the threads run. It is vital to understand and find the direction of the weave before cutting the cloth because it determines how the finished garments will turn out.
Different Directions of the Grain
The grains in a cloth run in 3 different directions: lengthwise grain, crosswise grain, and bias grain. As the name suggests, Lengthwise grain runs along the entire length of the cloth parallel to the selvage. Crosswise grain crisscrosses its way through the lengthwise grain exactly perpendicular to it. The third type of grainline, i.e., the bias grain, crosses both the lengthwise grain and crosswise grain starting from the top corners of the cloth down to the opposite end at the bottom. The bias grain is what gives the fabric its strength.
Lengthwise Grain vs. Crosswise Grain – The Comparison
Are you wondering what the difference is between lengthwise grain and crosswise grain? I know differentiating the two can be a little tricky but very simple once you understand the basics. It is imperative to comprehend that lengthwise grain runs parallel to the selvage, whereas crosswise grain runs perpendicular to the salvage. Another difference between the two is that lengthwise grain is the least stretchable, while crosswise grain can stretch a little.
Importance of Grainline in Sewing
Are you wondering why I say it’s essential to understand the grainline of the fabric? It is because the different stretchabilities of the cloth in different directions play a crucial role in making a perfect dress that fits your body. For example, the lengthwise grain is inelastic and the strongest, so it is better if it falls down the length of the body; otherwise, you will face some issues with the fittings. On the other hand, the bias grain, naturally more flexible, can be used excellently to help with the fittings. Once you understand the main concepts then it is fascinating to start working on classic embroidery projects like smocking.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a grainline in sewing?
As you already know, millions of thread lines are woven together in a single piece of cloth; then, naturally, they must have a direction in which they run. That direction of the threads is what we call grainline. And it is a significant phenomenon to understand this concept because it determines what clothes look like in their final fished form.
What does the grain of the fabric mean?
The threads used for weaving the fabric and the direction in which they are intertwined is called the fabric’s grain. The grain of the fabric is of three types, straight grain, cross-grain, and bias grain. They all run in different directions in a cloth. For example, straight grain and cross grain run perpendicular to each other whereas, bias grain runs diagonally.
How to find the grain of the fabric?
Finding the grain of the fabric is simple. Set the material on a flat surface and straighten it out. Now try to stretch it lightly with your fingers in different directions. You will observe that the fabric stretches differently in different directions. So the most stretchable order of the fabric is called bias grain, and the least stretchable is called straight grain. The cross-grain stretches just a little bit but not too much.
What do you call the grainline parallel to the selvage?
The edges of the cloth are called the salvage, and it is tightly bound at the time of knitting so that the threads won’t unravel. The grainline parallel to the salvage is called the Straight grain or the lengthwise grain. In this direction, the fabric is least flexible.
Do knit fabrics have a grain?
All fabrics have grain, but the only difference is in the terminology. Therefore, knit fabrics have a grain too, but they are named differently. The straight grain in the knit fabric is called wales or ribs, and they also run parallel to the salvage as in a regular cloth.
Can I cut fabric against the grain?
You can cut the fabric against the grain, but that would be a disaster. It is crucial to sew the cloth according to the direction of the grainlines. And if the fabric is sewn against the grain or along the bias grain, then your clothes will crease and wrinkle at different places as you wear them.
Assuming that you read this interesting and highly informative article very carefully, you all know everything there is to know about the grains of the fabric and the grainlines of the fabric. So the next time you decide to cut down a piece of cloth, make sure that you keep all this information in mind. The cloth itself talks to you. You just require a little bit of practice and patience to learn the tricks. And the chips will fall where they may.