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+++++Fabric Grain+++++

Fabric Grain affects the way fabric will react to what you do with it-- AND  even how you handle it.There are three types of fabric grain.
  • Lengthwise grain-- refers to the threads in fabric which run the length of the fabric, parallel to the selvage of the fabric.
  • Crosswise grain --are the threads that run perpendicular to the selvage of the fabric or the cut edge of the fabric as it comes off the bolt.
  • Bias grains -- the thread line that is at a right angle to the lengthwise and crosswise grain of the fabric as it is on the bolt. The bias has stretch in woven fabric and will react differently than a piece that has been cut on the straight or crosswise grain.

+++++Woven Fabric+++++

When you are working with woven fabric, the lengthwise and crosswise grain will "give" very little. Depending on the tightness of the weave of the fabric but it will not stretch.

The Bias grain however will stretch, making the bias grain a perfect spot to "wack" your block out of shape. Because the bias grain does react differently than the lengthwise or crosswise grain it may require special handling.

+++++Bias grain+++++ is the thread line that is at a forty five degree angle to the lengthwise and crosswise grain of the fabric as it is on the bolt.

The bias has stretch in woven fabric and will react  differently than a piece that has been cut on the straight or crosswise grain.


Straight Grain Cuts

Straight grain patches, fabric pieces with edges cut parallel to either straight grain, are less likely to stretch out of shape than pieces with edges cut along the bias, because the interwoven threads give their cut edges extra support.

Cuts along the lengthwise grain are less stretchy than crosswise grain cuts:

  • Unlike the moving weft threads, the warp threads were firmly attached to the loom during the weaving process, holding them in place and enhancing their structure.


  • The interlaced weft threads help stabilize the warp threads.


  • There are usually more warp threads per square inch than there are weft threads. The extra density adds strength.

When to Use Straight Grain Cuts

  • Fabric squares and rectangles are nearly always cut with their edges along the straight grains to minimize stretch during sewing and handling.


  • Because they do not stretch easily, long strips cut on the lengthwise grain make good quilt borders and sashing. They can stabilize and help you square-up the outer edges of blocks or quilt tops.


  • Sashing strips with long edges along the lengthwise grain add stability to blocks.

Fabric Grain Stretch Test

Cut a small square of cotton fabric with edges parallel to the straight grains.

+++++Tug on the fabric side to side, along one straight grain, then tug from the other direction. Do you feel and see a difference? Did you notice slightly less stretch in one direction? That was the lengthwise grain.

+++++Now tug on the square from corner to corner--along the bias. It probably stretched quite a bit, and if you tugged too hard it may have become permanently distorted.

Becoming accustomed to stretch differences helps you identify lengthwise and crosswise grain in scrap patches with no selvages, like those small squares quilters love to swap!

Experiment with fabric grain. It won't take long until you understand the best ways to place grain in your quilts in order to achieve the results you're looking for.

What are grey -- or-- greige Goods

A fabric in the condition in which it leaves the loom or knitting machine, i.e. before any bleaching, dyeing or finishing treatment has been given to it.

In some countries, particularly on the North American continent, the term "greige" (or griege) is used. For woven goods, the term "loomstate" is frequently used as an alternative. In the linen and lace trades, the term "brown goods" is used. 






You should never try to straighten your fabric by the salvage edges- salvages need to be removed- they are never straight- and the tighter weave will (pull) everything out of whack.

It is normal to loose 2-5" of fabric when you rip it along the grain- the fabric can easily be that far out of whack from the manufacturing process.- edges always fray/curl a bit where you rip- it is important to then press line up a ruler and cut a nice (straight grain) cut.  I see this very often on Wide backings.  Yes even the "good ones" If your backing of "off" then you have to cut it to straighten it.  You MAY lose several inches.