Fabric Grain: Meaning and Types

Threads are woven together to create almost all fabrics. Because of this kind of weaving, the fabric has a grain. The fabric’s motion as it is tugged will depend on the grain. You must comprehend both how to identify the grain of the fabric and how it affects the fabric in order to learn how to sew clothes that fit truly perfectly. When you sew against the grain, your fabric may be attempting to move in a way that is not often preferred. Your fabric will look and wear better if you cut with the grain. The fabric’s grain has an impact on how it hangs and drapes. Finding the direction of a fabric’s grain is simple. Try pulling your cloth in different directions to determine the direction of the grain. The grain runs in the direction that stretches the least.

What is Grain?

The direction of the weaving in a cloth is known as its grain. By weaving two or more threads at a straight angle to one another, fabric is produced. Both the longitudinal and cross-grain grains are present. The across grain, known as the weft, is formed of threads woven over and under the longitudinal grain from side to side, while the lengthwise grain, known as the warp, goes up and down. The weft threads turn while they are weaving in the opposite direction to generate the selvedge when the cloth is being woven. This makes the fabric’s length into a continuous bound. One can notice these two grain lines and the selvedge when you closely inspect a piece of fabric.

These grain lines’ varied reactions explain why they are so significant. The stronger of the two threads, known as the lengthwise grain or warp, has a lower tendency to stretch out of shape. Per square inch, there are more warp threads than weft threads. Strength is created by the extra threads. The most common grain in clothing manufacture is the longitudinal grain. Because of the over-and-under weaving, the weft, or crosswise grain, is less dense and has some flexibility. As a result, it does result in more comfortable clothing with some natural give where necessary (think shoulder seams and sleeves). This brings us to the third grain, the bias. Fabric that is cut at a 45-degree angle to the across and lengthwise grain is said to have a bias grain. Bias produces softness and a drape that may beautifully follow a curve.

Additionally, as many sewing patterns make reference to the fabric’s grain, you should be able to identify it. Getting instructions like “cut against the grain” is not unusual. It’s possible for your fabric to pucker in some places if you sew along the bias or against the grain. Additionally, it might begin to stretch in places where it shouldn’t. Among the strongest threads in the fabric are the grain lines. Three distinct fabric grain kinds exist.

Lengthwise Grain

The term “lengthwise grain” describes the threads that run parallel to a fabric’s selvage along its whole length.

  • Runs parallel to a fabric’s selvedges, or closely woven edges.

  • Has the least stretch due to the fact that the warp threads are often the strongest and most closely spaced?

  • Because it drapes well and has strong threads, the majority of clothing is cut on the length of the grain. As a result of the sturdy threads, a garment cut on this grain will last the longest.

Crosswise Grain

Crosswise grain refers to the threads that run parallel to the fabric’s selvage or cut edge as it is removed from the bolt.

  • Runs from selvedge to selvedge across the fabric.

  • Usually has some give or stretch to it. Due to the cross grain’s tendency to stretch across the shoulders with arm movement and other movements, this can be particularly helpful for creating clothing that is both pleasant to wear and has a longer lifespan.

  • Does not hang as well as long grain. (For cotton, this distinction isn’t really significant.)

  • Can be applied to create unique effects like borders or stripes. To take advantage of a pattern like horizontal stripes or a border print along the selvedge of cloth, you may want to cut a garment on the cross grain. When this is the case, don’t stress too much over the distinction between cross grain and length grain; the distinction isn’t crucial.

Bias Grain

The thread line that is 45 degrees out of alignment with the fabric’s lengthwise and transverse grains is known as the “bias grain.” A garment cut on the bias will hang differently than one cut on the straight or across grain because the bias in woven fabric has elasticity.

  • Runs with the length and crosses the grains at a 45-degree angle.

  • Has a lot of give or stretch.

  • Because of the stretch, it may be challenging to work with. Because bias can sometimes not recover after it has been extended, it must be managed carefully.

  • Highly adherent when draped. Consider the lovely gowns from the 1930s, which were frequently cut on the bias and were so opulent and magnificent.


To sum up, the term describes the direction in which the fabric is weaved. The way the fabric drapes over the wearer or the object strongly influences this. Recognizing the grain reduces waste and produces fascinating fullness effects on the garment.

The straight grain is the most prevalent grain type in clothing. The primary purpose of doing this is to ensure that the garment has its maximum strength, which may be attained when the garment is cut in the direction that it was built.

Try stretching the fabric in both directions if you’re unsure of the length of the grain and the cross-grain (for instance, if your selvages have already been removed). Most frequently, the cross grain is the direction that stretches more. Cross-grain threads can be rough and slubby, whereas length-grain threads are typically smoother (bumpy). Occasionally, during the finishing stage, a cloth will stretch and deform, and the length and cross-grain threads won’t be at a 90-degree angle to one another. Pulling the threads back into place by tugging on the fabric’s corners will quickly fix this. The fabric is then steam-pressed to reset the grain.

Updated on: 03-Feb-2023


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