If you’re like most sewers, when you sewing grain comes to mind, you envision lining pieces of a sewing pattern up along the lengthwise grain (with those little arrows that imprinted on the pattern as your guide, of course). It makes sense that’s how you would think about sewing grain because after all, that’s what most sewers are taught to do. It’s the 21st century, though, and a lot of new trends have arisen in the sewing world. For example, the way in which a sewing fabric’s yarn is positioned offers can provide you with many interesting and exciting ways to create a totally unique hand-stitched piece.
In this sewing help guide, we’re going to share with you a few tips that you can apply to sewing with grain fabrics so that you can produce some truly one-of-a-kind garments – from apparel to drapery, from quilts to accessories; basically, anything you can think of!
What is Fabric Grain?
First things first: you need to have an understanding of what fabric grain is. All fabrics, whether it’s burlap, canvas and duck, chenille, denim and chambray, felt, flannel, fleece, linen, knit, suede, faux leather – or any other material – is made by weaving threads together. As a result, the material has what is referred to as a grain. This grain impacts the way in which the material moves as you pull on it. Traditionally, you’d sew with the grain, as doing so will prevent the material from moving in a direction that it wouldn’t like to normally move in. Most sewers are taught that sewing with the grain allows the material to look and wear its best.
How do you figure out which way the grain goes? It’s easy; just pull on a piece of material and pull on it in all directions. Whichever direction results in the least amount of stretch is the direction of that the grain is going in. Once you know which direction the grain goes in, you can start exploring and make some really interesting pieces.
How to Go Against the Grain
There are so many ways that you can play with fabric grain and create a truly eye-catching design. Here are just a few examples of how you can go against the grain with your sewing:
- Cut a couple of predetermined pieces of fabric against the grain. If you’re making a jacket, for example, position the front and back sections on the lengthwise grain and position the side pieces for both the front and back on the opposite bias grains. This looks particularly striking if you’re fabric has a bold design, like stripes or tweed.
- Fabrics that have a linear design look strikingly different when they are turned. Use this idea to give a skirt a totally unexpected look.
- Going against the grain can make your garments more comfortable, too. For instance, cutting the side pieces of a jacket on the bias will allow for more give in the garment, which makes it a lot less stiff and a lot more comfortable.