DIY Design: Go With the Grain
How fitting. Photo: Albin Guillot, Getty Images
Grain is basically the threads, lengthwise and crosswise, in woven fabric.
If you tear your fabric along the grain line (it will tear easily and quickly), the lengthwise threads on the tear line will be long, while the crosswise threads will be shorter and fuzzy. (Here’s a great explanation of grain.)
If a garment doesn’t hang right, it doesn’t look right, and grain is what makes the difference.
My mother, an accomplished seamstress, would shudder to think how little I thought about grain when I first started sewing.
Oh, sure, I would measure from the grain line mark (a long straight arrow) on the pattern piece to the selvage and make sure that the two were more or less parallel, but I didn’t think about what the grain of the fabric really meant.
You make that measurement because you want that lengthwise grain to be straight, which makes your garment hang properly. And if there’s one thing that I can pass on to beginners, it’s that your projects will look so much better if you pay close attention to the grain.
When you drape a garment on a dress form, everything is similarly based on that plumb line of the center front and center back of the garment — the line that is exactly perpendicular to the floor, and which you normally want the lengthwise grain to be parallel to.