What Is A Grainline In Sewing: Types And Importance

Last Updated on 9 months by Susan Mayrich

The answer to what is a grainline in sewing is that it’s simply the line that follows the grain of the weave. We will discuss it in more detail below, including the importance of knowing how to find it. Did you know there are various grainline types as well?

what is a grainline in sewing

We also recommend that you browse our sewing articles to familiarize yourself with different sewing terminologies. For example, we talked about what is piping in sewing, what is baste in sewing, and a lot more. 


What Does Grainline Mean Sewing?

The grainline in sewing refers to the fabric pattern that follows the straight grain or threads of the weave. Furthermore, you can differentiate the grainline into three types based on their directions:


Straight grainline

The straight grainline is parallel to the selvage from top to bottom. This makes the straight grainline important to understand because it tells you the length of the fabric where you need to align the sewing pattern pieces. 


Cross grainline

The cross grainline is the fabric pattern perpendicular to the selvage. It runs from side to side along the weft, so the crosswise grainline is also sometimes called the weft thread. This type of grainline is slightly stretchy, and it won’t lay flat when folded like the straight grainline. 


Bias grainline

The bias grainline is the fabric pattern that runs in a diagonal direction. This makes it the type with the most stretch, which is why you need to cut the fabric in this direction if you want elasticity. Sewers can also cut the material either in a partial bias or true bias direction. 


Why It Is Important To Follow The Grainline Of The Fabric In Cutting?

It is essential to follow the grainline of the fabric when cutting because it gives you directions. The pattern tells you how to cut the material correctly, according to the design of the project. Since there are different grainline directions, there are also other uses for them. 

For example, you will cut lengthwise or follow the straight grain if you want a strong fabric without stretch and drape better. On the other hand, you must cut crosswise or follow the cross grain if you want a bit of stretch and some fuzziness. And finally, if the pattern calls to cut the fabric with the bias grain, you need to follow it if you want elasticity, which is ideal for garments that must follow the body shape. 


In What Direction Is The Grain Or Grainline?

You can find the grainline of the fabric by inspecting the woven threads and their directions. They will run lengthwise, crosswise, and even diagonal. It’s also worth noting that the lengthwise yarns are called the warp, while the crosswise yarns perpendicular to the selvages are called woof. Please take note of the terminologies regarding the grain of the fabric because it is how you must cut the material when sewing.


How Do You Find The Grainline On Fabric?


Straight grainline

  1. Have the fabric cut straight crosswise when buying a new one
  2. Check the corners if they form a right angle
  3. Check the angles of the lengthwise and crosswise thread from each other and not intersecting at a curved or slanting direction
  4. Pull a horizontal thread across the fabric entirely until you get a gap and cut
  5. Fold the material by the center selvages; if they don’t align perfectly, the fabric is off-grain


Cross grainline

  1. Pull a crosswise thread and cut the fabric by this thread
  2. Fold the fabric by the center and match the edge crosswise and lengthwise
  3. There should be no wrinkles near the center-fold that indicates the material is off-grain


Additional tips for finding the grainline

  • If there is no selvage, the lengthwise yarn is stronger while the crosswise snaps easily
  • Tearing the fabric by the length is easier than tearing it by the width
  • The crosswise yarn stretches more than the lengthwise yarn


Is Grainline The Same As Stretch?

Grainline is not the same as a stretch, but it influences the stretch or overall fit of the garment. When sewing, it’s essential to follow the grainline to get the perfect fit on the body. However, note that there is a crosswise grainline, and cutting the fabric along it will have the greatest stretch, also called the weft. 


Is The Selvage The Grainline?

The selvage is not the grainline because the selvage refers to each edge of the fabric width. You can also use the selvage to find the grainline direction, whether it’s going lengthwise or crosswise. 


Do You Cut Fabric With The Grain?

It’s crucial to cut fabric with grain to get the correct finish of the sewing project. Lay your pattern pieces over the material to know the correct direction of where to cut the fabric. It’s also helpful if you know how to find the fabric grainline for every type of sewing project. 



Was this article helpful? The answer to what is a grainline in sewing is it’s the direction following the threads of the weave. So you must know how to find it in different directions for cutting your material for every sewing project. 

And if you also want to learn what is serging in sewing or what is interfacing in sewing, please check our articles, so you’ll be ready for your subsequent activities with your sewing machine. 


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